Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Interstellar

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Interstellar

Article excerpt


12A, Nationwide

Christopher Nolan's futuristic epic Interstellar isn't a clever film, or even a dumb film with a clever film trying to get out. Instead, and no matter what the hype may say, this is a dumb film with an even dumber film trying to get out. Even the tag line, which is also the basic premise, is super-dumb. It goes: 'Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here.' Who says? How can anyone know what nature's intentions might be? What did it intend for dinosaurs, for example? The golden toad? The use of 'mankind', rather than 'humankind', is also telling, as this is very much in the tradition of the alpha-male American superhero who single-handedly saves us (ladies too!; thanks!) from being obliterated, whereas I generally wish he wouldn't. 'For God's sake,' I often found myself thinking during this film, 'let the obliteration begin so we can all go home.'

It's a story told traditionally, in three acts, with the first act being by far the best, if only because it is at least semi-coherent. It is set at some time in the near-future when an unnamed natural disaster has caused dust storms and crops to fail and it is clear: unless the human race gets out quick, then it's all over. Our hero is Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former pilot turned farmer, and single parent of two children who, through some hokey that is too complicated to go into here, and which I'm not sure I properly understood anyhow, is led to a secret Nasa compound headed by Michael Caine, playing Michael Caine. He wants Cooper to pilot a spacecraft through a wormhole to an unknown galaxy where humans may be able to live. Cooper is initially reluctant and has to be lured back into action, obviously. 'You're the best pilot we ever had,' beseeches Michael Caine, while playing Michael Caine. Cooper is particularly close to his daughter, Murph, and the question asked is: do you leave your family to save humanity? This is asked urgently, with tears in eyes, even though, frankly, I have known people leave their families for quite a lot less.

Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey

It's up into space, where the cinematography is often beautiful, I admit, with shimmering balls of intergalactic stuff emerging from the black, and planets of crusted ice. Nolan (Memento , Inception , the Dark Knight trilogy) is on it, visually, but it is tiring after a while; it feels like Star Trek turned up to 11. Meanwhile, the score is so emphatic it often drowns dialogue, while the characters are risible. …

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