Interstellar is a clunky and deceptively smart film, but it is still a very entertaining and gripping cinematic experience.

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history; traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars. [Paramount Pictures]

Interstellar is a rare blockbuster film that offers thrills and heady concepts.

It has topical subjects – space exploration, diminishing resources – and a human interest story. It has another widowed white guy but at least Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain deliver effective performances.

The off-kilter cinematography, silence of space punctuated by a classical score, and speculative but nonetheless beautiful set pieces provide great visuals. It is reminiscent of 2001: Space Odyssey but creates a pervading sense of underlying dread. It’s attention to the mechanics of space travel and dwarfed shots of the spaceship solidifies this experience, while making you invested in the journey.

The plot however, is  an amalgamation of different chunks of stories. To make matters worse, it delves into bullshit territory when it stretches the logic of science to accommodate its mawkish sentiments about human emotions.

This can be summarized in one scene where Brand (Anne Hathaway) explains how love transcends space and time so she must use her emotions to make a logical decision. Times like this make me wonder of what the other actors in the room think during that moment when someone delves into some pseudo intellectual/philosophical babble that they have to consider as serious dialogue.

Speaking of Brand, who is relegated as the “wrench in the gears” of the operation, the supporting cast are given thankless roles that are merely there for exposition (think Ellen Page in Inception) and to reiterate space jargon. The supporting cast is great, but they don’t have much to do.

Things go further south when Nolan does a Shyamalan plot twist.

Interstellar is a technically accomplished film, but Nolan’s attempts to packaged this as a thought provoking piece is silly. He has a penchant for delaying reveals in a narrative that is infused with a seemingly complex but actually simple concept. This time it doesn’t work because the plot is overstuffed, and then in the end we find out that all of this revolves around a platitude.

Interstellar demonstrated some scientifically plausible ideas thanks to Kip Thorne in the 2nd act. But it also expects viewers to believe that love conquers all – including spacetime – in what is a obviously a nonsensical 3rd act.

Interstellar is similar to Gravity, but lacks the focus to make the same deep emotional impact. Cuaron was able to highlight the perseverance of human nature against the empty and infinite space with precision; Nolan tries to show the endurance of man in a long-drawn-out journey with New Age mumbo jumbo.

Blockbuster movies inevitably bend their own rules to suspend disbelief. The science here may not be solid but that doesn’t significantly affect the entertainment value of the film. Interstellar was able to pull off a visually epic journey into deep space, but it’s not as smart nor philosophical as it aims to be.

My Rating: 8/10

Alternative Movie Poster from Laughing Squid

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