Thursday, May 23, 2024

Review: “Interstellar” Is A Big, Beautiful, Insane B Movie Tribute to Spielberg and Kubrick


Christopher Nolan’s very big budget, big studio, big screen “Interstellar”: it’s three hours long, and completely insane. Some of it is a tribute to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Some of it riffs Steven Spielberg’s later period — “Minority Report,” “A.I.,” “War of the Worlds.” Some of it is really cheesy. Some of it is incomprehensible. Ambitious? Oh yes. Does it stop when it should? (No, just like “A.I.”) Is it boring? Never. It’s a big, beautiful B movie.

First, you want to know: there’s formidable work by all the actors. It’s not exactly Oscar caliber because the story, and the dialogue, are often mad. But you know you’re in good hands with Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, who have to advance the story while explaining it. Jessica Chastain and surprise player Matt Damon have showier roles, so they resonate a tad more– they’re more reactive. John Lithgow and Michael Caine are the steady sages–always great to see them. Ellen Burstyn, too, in old-old make up, very “Benjamin Button,” is a pleasure. Bill Irwin is the ironic voice of the “Lost in Space” type robot, R2D2 as the walking slab riffed from “2001.”

There’s a kid, too: Mackenzie Foy is outstanding as the younger version of Jessica Chastain’s character, McConaughey’s daughter.

Nolan and his brother Jonathan started with “Memento,” a movie told backwards. It was brilliant because it was fresh, even if it didn’t totally make sense. Is that 15 years ago? Increasingly, the movies have become tone poems that are impossible to understand. “Interstellar” is the pinnacle of this process.

After a while, you figure out enough to get by. You will make it to the end and kind of understand the main points. There’s some philosophizing on the order of Linus discussing Nietzsche in “Peanuts.”  The cinematography is stunning. Outer space really looks cool. The CGI is very good, although there are a couple of “Lost in Space” kind of moments. The music is a hodgepodge, and often way too loud. A key revelation is nearly drowned out by a mashup of faux Wagner and “Tubular Bells.”

Will it  be a hit? I think so. “Interstellar” if nothing else is the Big Movie Experience of the fall-holiday season. People will be talking about it. All the tech stuff will be up for awards. I mean, the film company says it grew a 500 acre cornfield in Canada just for the movie!  Plus, there are so many close ups of the spine of Stephen King’s “The Stand” that that book should get a big boost in sales. Plus Hamilton watches has a huge product placement. There’s too much riding on this film!

Kudos to McConaughey. He does his job very well. He’s the guide to a maze, and he keeps the audience in place. And he gets rewarded in scenes with Matt Damon that you won’t forget.




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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