peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2014 11 10 Interstellar


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With workmates Alex, Carl, Nick. 6.30pm IMAX, Navy Pier, 70mm. $20. Epic burger beforehand.

What is this, a space opera? In 2014? How very 2001-derivative, and so easy to sink the boot into. Marvin-style robots take on monolith forms when they're not being R2D2s, HAL is a misanthropic man who tries to steal a wheel (a weak antonym of Kubrick's elegant Discovery), McConaughey-and-monolith as star children, and the Deep Space 9 wormhole supplants the monolith. The science gets quite muddled once the black hole turns up, so I guess Hawking was too busy basking in his own movie to offer advice on this one. (Christian from work explained to me that it is a theoretical possibility thus far without much empirical support that Hawking radiation may transmit information out of a black hole, but that's more physics than I ever understood.) Leaving aside the question of the bandwidth of a twitching second hand of a watch, Chastain is going to have the devil's own time decyphering that data if it is in Morse as it is not a prefix code. I'm stopping here. Science, who needs it when you have gravity, lurv and massive blackboards.

There are some good visuals here, though Nolan is late to the party (hosted by The Tree of Life and Gravity) of cool cosmology. Hathaway phones it in. McConaughey is robust enough for two movies. I like Casey Affleck's signature low-key smolder, but he doesn't really get a chance to mumble. Chastain was surprisingly plausible. God save me from Michael Caine, who peaked shortly after 2001's initial theatrical release. Zimmer's music is overly intense, most of the time.

I was expecting the politics to be: get out there and resume space exploration, every geekboy's dogma, for the planet's rooted and we'll be rooned. The short certainly made it seem so. There is instead an attempt at complexification, with some concern with sustainability, though the conclusion seems to be we need to go anyway. What I really don't like is that Nolan reckons we're screwed unless God shows up, and/or we send ourselves information from the future. Last time God showed up we nailed him to a tree, though perhaps Nolan is suggesting that next time around we won't have trees, so it might work out better. The other fork smells too much of Terminator causality bullshit to me. None of this is surprising as Nolan has always cleaved to the one-great-man-of-history storylines. What I really want to know is why McConaughey was chasing Hathaway at the end. In any case the whole thing is terribly derivative.

Reviews are, of course, plentiful. Dana Stevens somehow misdiagnoses originality here but gets it right in the end. Correct result from false premises and unsound reasoning? Yes, the movie had that in spades. Apart, possibly, for the correct result. I wish I'd seen the movie A. O. Scott did. Denby brackets this with the Hawking movie.