Posted on Monday, October 27th, 2014 by Angie Han
Without a doubt, Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar is one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2014. But whether it’ll deliver on those sky-high expectations is another question altogether. The first Interstellar reviews are in, and they’re really all over the map. One thing’s for sure, though: No one is faulting Nolan for lacking style or ambition. Hit the jump for the Interstellar review roundup.
In summary: Visually, Nolan seems to remain at the top of the game. Where critics are divided is is handling of the emotional material. Nolan has a reputation for being a chilly director, but he reportedly tries to nail the more sentimental aspects of the story here… with either incredible results or disastrous ones, depending on whom you ask. But even a Nolan failure is more interesting than lots of filmmaker’s successes, and Interstellar definitely sounds worth a look.
Our own Peter Sciretta tweeted (and elaborated upon here):
Interstellar is ambitious, beautiful, Christopher Nolan‘s most emotional film to date. The story allows us to explore many big ideas we wouldn’t normally see in a big budget studio film, but the ideas sometimes fly by at light speed, squeezed into popcorn cinema. The result is that the story is left with some holes of logic. As someone who enjoyed Prometheus, I can see past this kind of thing when the overall experience is enjoyable. I think others may have problems with some of these logistical issues. But even those critics will agree that Interstellar is a film not to be missed in its theatrical run — the movie must be experienced in a big theater, projected in 70mm or on an IMAX film screen if possible.
For all its adventurous and far-seeing aspects, Interstellar remains rather too rooted in Earthly emotions and scientific reality to truly soar and venture into the unknown, the truly dangerous. Startling at times, it never confronts the terror of the infinite and nothingness, no matter how often the dialogue cites the spectre of a “ghost” or how many times we hear Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and its famous “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
‘Interstellar’ is a good movie that so desperately wants to be important. That sentence is going to read as churlish, but I do admire ‘Interstellar’ for at least attempting to be something that’s not dumb. There are already too many dumb things we are subjected to on a daily basis. And ‘Interstellar’ is ambitious, even though there are a lot of head-scratching scenes. Yet, there we still are, spinning out of control with the reality that Nolan has created – and it’s only when we stop spinning, when we look at it from afar, that we kind of realize how absurd it all was … even though it leaves us craving a little more.
Like Zemeckis, Nolan is known as a bit of a wizard who has often dealt with criticisms that his work is cold or less emotionally engaging than it is technically dazzling. One of the things that I found most interesting about “Interstellar” is how very hard it’s focused on getting the emotional side of things right, sometimes at the expense of the larger science-fiction story being told.
To infinity and beyond goes “Interstellar,” an exhilarating slalom through the wormholes of Christopher Nolan’s vast imagination that is at once a science-geek fever dream and a formidable consideration of what makes us human. As visually and conceptually audacious as anything Nolan has yet done, the director’s ninth feature also proves more emotionally accessible than his coolly cerebral thrillers and Batman movies, touching on such eternal themes as the sacrifices parents make for their children (and vice versa) and the world we will leave for the next generation to inherit. An enormous undertaking that, like all the director’s best work, manages to feel handcrafted and intensely personal, “Interstellar” reaffirms Nolan as the premier big-canvas storyteller of his generation, more than earning its place alongside “The Wizard of Oz,” “2001,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Gravity” in the canon of Hollywood’s visionary sci-fi head trips.
The Playlist (D):
Nolan is a master technician, and the space flight scenes in this are stunning, whether in the still beauty of a slow pass by Saturn’s rings or the swift, silent terror of disaster destroying a spaceship in the void between the stars. While the great complaint about Nolan is that he’s too cold, too clinical, too unemotional, he’s over-corrected here to such a degree than instead of drifting a little from one side to the next, he plows, swiftly, and disastrously, into a ditch of his own making—or, rather, of his and co-writer Jonathan Nolan’s making.
To paraphrase Christopher Nolan‘s “The Dark Knight,” we don’t get the prestige filmmakers we need, we get the ones we deserve. And one of the ones we seemingly deserve is Nolan himself, a filmmaker with a keen visual sense but also one who undercuts the big, challenging ideas of his movies with unnecessarily tidy resolutions. In that respect, “Interstellar” may represent an apotheosis of sorts, as it illustrates the very best and the very worst of Nolan as a writer-director.
There are so many frustrating flaws in this enormously cerebral, wonderfully hopeful and massively ambitious movie. If good intentions were enough to make a movie a masterpiece, Interstellar would be the greatest work of Nolan’s career. That said, even with its many flaws, Interstellar is an often gorgeous, expertly put-together movie that demands to be seen on the biggest possible screen. And while many parts of Interstellar don’t work, the whole hangs together enough to be a movie that impresses with hard sci-fi nerdiness. If only that were enough to make it the great film we hoped for.
CinemaBlend (2.5 stars out of 5):
Nolan is a filmmaker we turn to when we want something outside of the norms and deliver something that is both “unordinary” and exists on a massive scale. “Predictable” isn’t a word we’d expect to be uttered within 10 miles of a Christopher Nolan movie – and yet it’s painfully necessarily in discussion of Interstellar, Nolan’s aesthetically beautiful, large-scale sci-fi drama that is admirable in its ideas and style, but lacking in its storytelling and execution.
“Interstellar” is another one of Christopher Nolan’s more personal mind-f*ck movies which he’s done so well when not directing adventures of a certain cowled vigilante. While it may not be as immediate as “Inception” and it wears most of its most obvious influences on its sleeve, it’s still very much the type of intelligent spin on a specific genre we’ve come to expect from the filmmaker.
Aside from being an ambitious, heartfelt story about exploring our place beyond this Earth, Interstellar also seems like an amalgamation of many of iconic sci-fi films of past: 2001: A Space Odyssey, A.I., The Abyss,Sunshine, Mission to Mars, Solaris (it even has some Rendezvous with Rama in it). But unlike other films such as Oblivion (which was too obviously inspired), Nolan borrows and then re-imagines in a way that is fresh and exciting, and feels more like a nod than a direct copy.
An emotional powerhouse when it isn’t hokey – and a stunning spectacle when it doesn’t get bogged down in plot logistics – Interstellar is the clearest example yet of filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s desire to wow us with ambitious big-budget projects that balance cutting-edge effects and bold dramatic crescendos. Biting off far more than it can chew, this space-travelling sci-fi extravaganza works best in its sweeping brio, in its willingness (and ability) to pay homage to the jaw-dropping awe of the genre’s grandest entry, 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the film’s majesty is mitigated somewhat by a story that doesn’t seem nearly as visionary.
If Interstellar is Nolan’s most ambitious film, it’s not because of its cost or its intergalactic sweep, but rather because “love” is the most speculative and unscientific force that he’s ever tried to prove. When Nolan was recently quoted as saying that his new opus is about “What happens when scientists bump up against these things that defy easy characterisation and analysis — things like love”, his comment engendered skepticism from people who haven’t become fetishistically submissive to their enthusiasm for upcoming event films. And while Interstellar throws itself on the sword of sentimentality almost every time it’s on the precipice of arriving at a moment of cinematic wonder, Nolan’s approach to love is ultimately as blunt and practical as we should expect from the man who reduced the human subconscious into a rigid ladder of colour-coded game worlds. Interstellar doesn’t just contend that love is real, the film argues that it’s downright Darwinian.
Time Out London (5 stars out of 5):
Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic ‘Interstellar’ makes Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’ feel like a palate cleanser for the big meal to come. Where ‘Gravity’ was brief, contained and left the further bounds of the universe to our imagination, ‘Interstellar’ is long, grand, strange and demanding – not least because it allows time to slip away from under our feet while running brain-aching ideas before our eyes. It’s a bold, beautiful cosmic adventure story with a touch of the surreal and the dreamlike, and yet it always feels grounded in its own deadly serious reality.
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