We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.¹
Yeah, so I cried near the end of the movie, big whoop, want to fight about it? I have seen every Christopher Nolan, except Following, and really liked every one. I do not remember any of his films bringing me to tears, though. Anyways, I saw the previews for this, figured that I understood this, thought it looked fine and went to see it, even though it was about two hours forty minutes. While I prefer Christian Bale—Batman of the 2000s—to Matthew McConaughey—Dallas Buyers Club—I thought that McConaughey did a very good job playing a father and astronaut.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) in a space suit. Spoiler alert, Cooper winds up leaving Earth in a movie called Interstellar, © 2014 Legendary Pics.
Since much of this film takes place in outer space, the natural comparison falls to Gravity. This has more to say and looks almost as good. The better comparison is to Inception. While Inception has better pacing, better action and equally good acting and special effects, there are lots of good movies that could be described as such. Since this has Jessica Chastain, who played the mother in The Tree of Life, it is worth noting how this, like The Tree of Life, has a slow, earthy feel and pace. Literally, dust coats almost everything. Unlike that grand failure, this conveys a message and, for the most part, fills it run-time with interesting scenes.
The biggest let down in the film is how little time Cooper–McConaughey–spends deciding to leave his family and planet: about 7 seconds. One might think that with a title like “Interstellar” that an exodus must happen, but this is about 45-50 minutes into the damn film. Why should I care about the life he leaves behind if Christopher Nolan does not see fit to show me that it matters to Cooper. Ardent defenders of this film could argue that his behavior after helps demonstrate that this decision was not made lightly, but there are always people who suspend disbelief just so far as necessary to like, or hate, a film.
As for the difficult ethical and mental issues, those can either be explored for days, or totally ignored. Regardless, this movie can be enjoyed by everyone, so long as they can handle a slow build with good acting.
¹ I could have gone with the Dylan Thomas quotation that Michael Caine’s Dr. Brand fancies so much, “Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” While it is a powerful statement, I did not think it was the dominant message of the film. Also, WWE 2k15, has advertisements with John Cena saying the exact same thing. For some reason that lessened its impact on me…