SPOILER ALERT: INTERSTELLAR
Interstellar or: How I leant to stop worrying and love the clusterfuck.
Where on earth do I begin? Maybe earth isn’t the best place to start at all but for now it will have to do.
I get a text off a friend trying to rally a big group of fellow filmmakers and film fans to go and see Interstellar. I quickly reply ‘no thanks I’m not so keen but if you want to go see Nightcrawler at some point I’m up for it’. After a few exchanges it becomes clear that this stubborn bastard won’t back down. He buys me a ticket despite my disinterest and then tops off his financial blackmail with a personal guilt trip for more emotional leverage.
The day arrives and I’m savagely hungover from having met up with the very same friend the night before and trying to use cheap whisky as some kind of miracle potion in order to wash away our respective problems. We make our way to Hackney Picturehouse in the pissing rain and the only thing keeping me going is my hatred for Nolan and how excited I am about getting home after the cinema and tearing him a new asshole.
Inception was such a huge piece of shit and I fucking hate the Batman films. The scripts are piss-poor unedited nonsense and what gets my back up even more is that people don’t seem to notice or care. The man makes a song and dance about shooting IMAX and everyone loses their shit, dubbing him as some kind of cinematic messiah. His films are unintelligent and pretentious; each desperately aspiring to greatness which he simply cannot deliver.
Nolan clearly thinks he is a clever person and therefore a clever filmmaker. His characters are mechanically constructed without real depth or soul and he uses their mouths exclusively to over-explain the ‘smart’ little quips and references he has cumbersomely forced onto the story. Dumb people are mystified by dumb writing and somehow decide that this means he must be a genius. They blow so much smoke up the man’s ass that not only does he think he’s clever – he now really believes it.
With no-one to bring his ego back down to earth, Nolan sets his sights on the stratosphere and with incomparable arrogance decides to try and make a film on par with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Interstellar is born. From the trailer I am slightly worried that as well as Kubrick, Nolan also wants to take a run at Malick and try to win an award for the coolest shot cornfield in film history.
The first things that I notice are that it doesn’t look nearly as good as it should with inconsistent grain, inappropriately milky blacks and some minor but annoying focus issues. Also the sound mix is a complete disaster with uncomfortably loud atmos and music that swallows up a lot of the dialogue. Soon enough though I begin to settle in and loosen up. Here is my account of roughly what happens:
Matthew McConaughey, seems to be some kind of failed pilot / dustbowl farmer it what would appear to be the Deep South. It later emerges that this is actually a future New York ravaged by a food shortage and some pretty problematic dust. I have to say it’s quite an interesting take on the future, using things we recognise to show how the earth has regressed over-time rather than your typical dystopian metropolis. Anyway, after a bit of exposition to make it very clear that his wife is super-dead and he really loves the idea of going into space, a bookshelf starts talking to Matt’s daughter and then gives him some coordinates.
Matt follows the coordinates to a secret base and is met with a hilariously designed robot, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and the dude with a plastic bag fetish from American Beauty sporting a nice new beard. We learn that these people are secret NASA and then, via the use of a sliding boardroom wall that seems built exclusively to impress Matthew McConaughey, they reveal a big rocket thingy that they are developing in order to leave earth and colonise another planet that may or may not exist on the other side of a worm hole that has been placed there presumably by some kind of five dimensional beings. With me so far?
Matt takes this news fairly well as he’s not a big fan of farming and has been itching to be an astronaut ever since, well, ever since he apparently trained as an astronaut. He goes home and fairly quickly says his goodbyes to his family. His daughter (named after Eddie Murphy who famously said anything that can go wrong will go wrong) kicks up a bit of a fuss and tells Matt that the bookcase told him to stay. He ignores this, gives her a watch and then fucks off. Luckily John Lithgow, whose dementia has caused him to wander straight out of Rise of the Planet of the Apes without having a shave, is going to hang back with the kids.
With no further preparation or deliberation Matt and the rest of NASA (minus Michael Caine) set off into space and towards the wormhole. They go to sleep for a couple of years or something as they make their way towards Saturn where the wormhole is hanging out. Personally, I would have thought these ‘other beings’ could’ve put it somewhere a bit closer but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
With some exposition stolen straight out of Event Horizon, we learn a bit about the wormhole but then Nolan showing off his geometry skills takes this one step further by explaining that a hole, traditionally represented by a circle, in three dimensions would actually appear as a sphere. I have to say that this mind bending spherical-hole sequence is visually stunning and quite unlike anything I’ve seen to date. Anne Hathaway doesn’t have time to notice this though as she is busy shaking hands with an inter-dimensional being.
On the other side of the wormhole, everyone casually moves on as if they have seen it all before. There are three beacons left by previous explorers that suggest three potential planets that could all sustain human life. Some unconvincing flirting between Matt and Anne takes place in addition to some light comic relief from the retarded robot and the gang starts to deliberate on how to tackle investigating the first planet. The crew faces their first big problem when it is explained that due to relativity, every hour they spend on this new planet is seven years back on earth. Matt is very concerned that he will miss his kids growing up if they dilly dally so instead of the current plan which seems to be, ‘lets take ages’ he draws a picture on a white board and offers an alternate plan of, ‘how about let’s do it quickly instead’. Everyone agrees that this is a much better plan.
When they land the planet seems mostly to be water and a fucking huge wave (which is also visually very cool and genuinely quite terrifying) is coming towards them. Anne Hathaway fucks about trying to make sure they don’t leave without the data from the beacon. Everything goes a bit tits up but the retarded robot goes into turbo mode proving it has a non-retarded setting and saves Anne, getting her back to the ship just in time. The bearded American Beauty guy isn’t so lucky and gets washed away. Nobody ever really talks about this after the fact as American Beauty was ages ago and they simply don’t give a shit.
The ship takes a while to dry off before they can leave the planet and by the time they get back to the main ship it’s 23 years later. The signal that they followed to the planet was probably only broadcast for a few seconds but because of the relative time they had been receiving it for years. Probably should’ve figured that one out a bit earlier but hey. Anyway, Matt gets back to 23 years worth of messages from his kids during which his son has turned into Casey Affleck and his daughter still hasn’t forgiven him for leaving and is now as old as Matt was when he left. I have to say for whatever reason, this bit really got to me and I was very close to bursting into tears. In fact, I worked pretty hard to hold it back. Fortunately, I’m soon cheered up by the fact that during the same amount of time Michael Caine hasn’t changed whatsoever.
Matt’s daughter is now a scientist who is working with Michael Caine in order to solve ‘the equation of gravity’ which is really important as it will apparently fix all of the plot-holes in the film but they just cant crack it. On the upside though Eric from That 70s Show also seems to be knocking about NASA these days. Back on the ship, they have a tough decision to make as they only have enough fuel to visit one of the two remaining planets if they want to also conserve enough fuel to make it back to earth. The relative time thingy is no longer an issue though so don’t worry about that anymore.
Anne Hathaway wants to go to one planet because she is in love with the guy that is there sending the thumbs-up beacon but Matt wants to go to the other planet because the guy on that planet was divisive in the whole ‘lets find a new planet plan’ and he is supposed to be a super-great guy. They argue briefly but not really and Matt wins out. I can’t remember exactly when but at some point around now Michael Caine, in a hilariously inaudible death-scene, admits that he has… well… done something unforgivable and pops his clogs. Meanwhile, Matt and his gang land on world two and wake up none other than MATT DAMON whose years of surviving on a planet made entirely of ice with limited resources seem to have left him a nicely plump Fat Damon. I know what you’re thinking, ‘two Matts for the price of one?!’.
Nice move Nolan.
It turns out what Michael Caine was mumbling about was that he lied about finding a place to move the existing humans to, the huge space station he has been building his whole life was a sham and that this was always a mission to colonise a habitable planet with test-tube babies. About 30 mins worth of foreboding music clues us into the fact that Fat Damon might not be such a cool guy either; this planet made entirely of ice, shockingly, isn’t inhabitable by humans at all and he has been lying about his data all along because he wanted someone to come save him. There is a Matt on Matt duel and the evil Matt steals a ship and leaves good Matt for dead. This is intercut with good Matt‘s daughter having a big argument with Casey Affleck and everything is looking very hashtag sadface, letting us know we are at the end of the second act. Evil Matt tries to join the main ship and blows himself and a good portion of the main ship up in the process.
The prospect of a return journey home now looks pretty slim, so good Matt decides to go for broke and use the black hole’s gravity to draw the ship in and get it close to the final planet. (Oh I forgot to mention there is a black hole that, apart from being a huge unknown danger, also has the information inside it to solve Michael Caine’s unsolvable equation).
In a heroic moment of self-sacrifice Matt, remembering Nolan’s GCSE level physics and Newton’s third law, jettisons himself and the retarded robot in order to give Anne that last little push she needs to make it to the final planet. Matt gets sucked into the black hole and it’s all pretty scary / beautiful. But this is where shit gets really weird…
Inside the black hole Matt finds that, unlike the very tough metal spacecraft, his squishy body hasn’t been crushed to death by the infinitely powerful singularity but instead he is trapped in a trippy salvia dream of epic proportion. Having anticipated Nolan’s unparalleled desire to seem smart and the fact that dumb people who try to be smart always fall back on tautological narratives; I already know that this movie will end where it started and that Matt will be the one who was sending himself and his daughter messages through the bookshelf at the beginning of the film. I make sure my friend knows I know this about an hour and a half into the movie so I can’t later be denied my awesome predictive skills. Low and behold I am right.
Inside the black hole, Matt is trapped in a multi-dimensional bookshelf thing where he tries to communicate with his daughter. This is intercut with shots of her acting so hard it looks like she’s going to pull a muscle. Matt uses the books to tell himself to stay. He then gives himself the co-ordinates to go on the mission and finally he uses the help of the robot and the watch he gave his daughter to send a binary signal that relays the information from inside the wormhole that will help her ‘solve the problem and save all of mankind’. So just for the sake of clarity: the multidimensional bookcase was built by humans that have evolved far enough to manipulate time and space because they were saved from extinction by Matt and his daughter, with a little help from themselves in an alternate future that didn’t and couldn’t possibly exist without them having done what was impossible for them to do without them having already done it. In layman’s terms: both the chicken AND the egg came first because Nolan says so. This makes no sense whatsofuckingever but its ok because the movie is nearly over and Nolan is already halfway out the door.
Matt’s daughter hugs Casey Affleck after burning all his crops and then goes back to NASA and shouts eureka a couple of times, ‘cause its traditional’. Space ambulances turn up and save Matt and he wakes up in Michael Caine’s fully functional sham spacecraft, which is designed like a giant toilet roll but looks kind of cool. During the time it’s taken to solve the ‘gravity problem’ and get the shiteroll spaceship up and running, Matt’s daughter has grown super old and is now on her deathbed. Matt of course hasn’t aged because presumably after the collapse of the bookshelf black hole thingy, he has been chilling in a timeless void or maybe it’s that tricky relativity coming back into play.
Anyway to wrap it up, Matt steals a spaceship as I guess they didn’t have a spare one for THE GUY WHO SAVED HUMAN KIND and flies off to find Anne Hathaway who conveniently hasn’t aged either. Let’s hope his flirting goes a little better this time…
So what can I say about all this? It’s pretentious, dumb, uneven, over-explained, over AND somehow under-acted, full of tonal missteps, terrible dialogue and is almost completely implausible. Why oh why didn’t I hate it then? I guess I felt that it had a bit more heart than Nolan’s other films, even if this was bullied out of its characters. I also enjoyed its bravado, sense of spectacle and the overall dumb ambition of the thing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a terrible movie but I have to say that I kind of enjoyed the ride. In a way, it had the charm of a child trying to retell a sophisticated joke it had overheard some adults telling at a dinner party. The painful strain mortality has on the father-daughter relationship even briefly reminded me of Synecdoche, New York (And I can promise you that that is the first and last time you will EVER hear those films mentioned in the same sentence).
I guess because I went into the film expecting to hate it, I came to terms with its stupidity very early on which let me sit back and enjoy what can only be described as an incredibly flawed but hilariously entertaining clusterfuck.