Loved the movie: HATED the soundtrack. Hated, hated, hated it. Reminiscent of the terrible soundtrack in Mission to Mars, it is all pipe organ, all the time, with all the stops out. Nolan is apparently enamored of the final chords from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and the The Beatle's "A Day In The Life", because you are blasted with them over and over, so loud, it drowns out the dialog in places. I felt like this guy:
Now that I've got that off my chest, the photography and effects are outstanding, the directing and editing and performances very good. The plot has one main head-fake in it, mid-way, but then gets to where you expected it to, more or less. I think Nolan kind of borrowed his epilog from ideas in The Forever War, then again, since that book came out it's been a while and it could have just become a trope. This movie made relativity and the twin paradox a major plot point.
I loved the design aesthetic of the robot characters and my artist/designer wife hated it; as far as their characterization, it's a little hard to tell if they are true A.I's or not, therefore, hard to know if you're supposed to have empathy for them or not.
Saw this in 4k, and everything looked preternaturally sharp-focused. It made Anne Hathaway's teeth look frickin' enormous, though. I wouldn't say it made or broke the film to see it that way, though it has plenty of big, sweeping visuals that would impress you on IMAX or 3-d screens. It pops back and forth between the big visuals and tight dialogue scenes, and I didn't regret it not being 3D.
Go see it, but bring earplugs. Scott, don't take any liquids for three hours before seeing this, it runs long, but needed it, to finish the story without cheating the climax.
And apparently, it's not just me:
I actually really enjoyed the sound track. I was like "is that a pipe organ? Sweet jesus." I don't know, it felt appropriate for the crazy space movie stuff.
I didn't LOVE the movie though. I really enjoyed the experience of it a LOT. But I think when I watch it again on my own TV, it'll be harder to get past some of the overwrought aspects of the script. I actually saw this projected on 70mm film at the only theater in Atlanta to show it that way. I don't know if it's all totally in my head or something, but MAN. Seeing something projected on film is magic. It felt so much more ALIVE than anything else I've seen this year in a theater. Everything is always so clean and feels manufactured, but this felt like a tangible thing, right down to the film grain and the cue marks in the corner and the hint of gate weave.
Now that I've completely gone bananas over film projection, some spoilery bits from the movie:
-The first half hour is utterly amazing to me. Everything with the future earth covered in dust, framed with dust bowl stories. Everything from the beginning until Cooper gets to NASA is like perfect science fiction to me.
-The young version of Murph was amazing. I don't know if I've seen her in anything else but I thought she was great.
-For that matter, I thought McConaughey was amazing too. All the performances were good, but he was REALLY good.
-There's some hand wavy weird supernatural feeling stuff throughout this whole movie that I was kind of like "EHH" to but I allowed it because I was pretty well sucked into the story. But there were moments where I kind of jumped out of the story to think "aw come on." It felt strange that NASA astronauts would be talking about "they" so much. "They" put the wormhole there. I guess I understand, but it was kind of weird to get into.
-A lot of the beginning bits felt really fast, which I liked, especially getting to space quicker. But then everything in space felt like it was drawn out too much comparatively.
-The VFX were super great. I especially enjoyed the worm hole and the black hole.
-The science for a lot of this stuff was especially shaky, but not as shaky as one might think. Having said that, the time dilation of Miller's planet orbiting the black hole is pretty accurate, and probably one of my favorite themes of the movie. I've always been really interested in relativity and the fact that time happens differently around things like that. So I was really into the themes of the passage of time being such a big deal. One of the highlights of the film was when Cooper comes back onto the ship after the disastrous events of Miller's planet and finds that 23 years have past. That IS SO GREAT! 23 years of recorded messages from his loved ones! Character development for his children in one scene. He has to live the majority of their lives in a few minutes! It's heart wrenching and depressing and horrible! I LOVE IT.
-I wish Matt Damon's character hadn't been such a coward. That really sucked. I wish he had more motivation to ditch them and go back to earth other than being completely freaked out. He seemed less like a panicky guy and more like a sociopath in space and I didn't exactly buy his loneliness as an excuse for being so murdery. Though you totally saw THAT turn of character coming, since Mann was "the best of us".
-How about Dr. Brand. Female Brand, I mean. Man, she was a crap character. She did almost nothing useful in the whole story except get a guy killed, look scared, cry about being in love, and get stranded on a planet. Totally the Trinity of Interstellar -- looks bad ass, is smart, does absolutely nothing.
-But that is redeemed by Murph, both child and adult Murph. There is almost no focus on her love life, but there's enough of an indication that she was a loving and well-liked person that she isn't just a one-dimensional bad ass. It was just a side thing. She's strong-willed and smart and pulls herself up from nothing to NASA, where she is intelligent enough to solve some major science stuff while being open-minded enough to understand when Cooper is trying to communicate with her. She's bitter and mean and not to be messed with and she saves humanity. The best part was when Cooper wakes up on Cooper Station and says aw thanks for naming it after me and the scientists are like "lol no it's named after your daughter". Suck it, nerds.
-When Cooper was in the tesseract, that was really well done. That whole bit was really difficult to understand at times (inside the black hole in general), but I think I got the gist of the whole thing.
-Murph releasing Cooper from watching her die was a great ending. It was like yeah, I lived my whole life hating you in some way but now I see the big picture and it's all good because I saved humanity so bye dude.
-The ending with Cooper going to save Brand was less interesting.
So overall: a lot of predictable plot stuff, some shaky science, but somehow still incredibly moving. Didn't floor me like Inception did, but it was pretty rad. Especially on glorious film.
The organ music might be appropriate... but it was TOO DARNED LOUD and TOO OMNIPRESENT, is my beef.
This is one of those movies that felt like more or less, a complete novel, realized on screen. I felt that way about Lucy as well.
I don't mind that a few questions were not fully answered, because Nolan left you enough to extrapolate from.
As far as plan A and plan B, they didn't even consider plan C; just move into space colonies and keep on living in the Sol system, with Earth nearby as a place to go back and visit and perhaps re-terraform over time. Doesn't require interstellar travel, and can't be as hard or expensive to do.
I wondered what you thought of the robots, both their design and their character?
I loved the design of the robots. It reminded me of AI designs as described in Shane Carruth's script for A Topiary which is a crazy ambitious science fiction story I hope he can make someday. But I really liked the more practical, industrial design juxtaposed with the seemingly advanced intelligence. I like to think we're not that far right now from interacting with robots with that kind of humor and character and eventually we might realize that fancy space-age shiny designs for bots aren't as useful as something far more blocky.
Like Legos but with many more points of articulation, or maybe like intelligent tangram or Tetris pieces. It's never stated that they are true A.I., so when Coop casually orders one to his apparent demise, it goes along cheerfully (apparently). But Brand feels empathy for them. It's interesting that they are re-deployed, re-programmed military hardware, like the predatory-cat-like robot in Red Planet ( a terrible movie but the hardware looked cool and it did have one redeeming line in the script)
Based on what the human crews did, it isn't clear to me why they really were that necessary, just to survey the planets, when these robots like TARS seemed more than capable of doing that, with more efficiency. Then again, that fits into the plot line about Plan B. You only really needed the added observations of a human when regarding the greater puzzles of the wormhole and black hole.
I liked the art direction and production design a lot in this movie; it looked like a natural extension of technologies we are familiar with today.
I too liked the casting of young Murph, (Mackenzie Foy) adult Murph, (Jessica Chastain) and grandma Murph. Really talented young girl, Foy is; she's going to be in contention with Hailee Steinfeld some day... I agree they didn't give Anne Hathaway enough to do. Then again, they didn't give David's astronaut character much to do but sit and wait. And I don;t know why Hathaway always seemed to have such a huge smile going in scene after scene where perhaps they weren't relevant. on the screen I saw, her huge front teeth became like an extra character in the dialogues. :-)
The parent-teacher conference scene was the one that got to me the most out of the entire movie, and also helped sell the utter despair of the future society established in the story. Adding that to Cooper's musing about looking at the sky, versus looking at the dirt, carried a powerful message, for me.
I guess it wasn't clear if they were AI or not. Regardless, I enjoyed them as characters.
Yes, Romilly wasn't given that much to do either. Though he was clearly a side character, I would have enjoyed seeing him actually doing anything useful. Then again, he did keep the ship running for 23 years alone. And by the way, I would love to see a short film of his twenty years of isolation waiting for them to come back.
Brand was obviously a lead character opposite Cooper and should have had more to do with the plot besides seriously screwing up on Miller's planet. She was weak and boring.
And ya know, I had totally forgotten the mention that opening scene at the school, the Apollo mission "propaganda". That really was a brilliant way to set up their world. Almost all of the dialogue in that opening half hour or so was perfect.
"And ya know, I had totally forgotten the mention that opening scene at the school, the Apollo mission "propaganda". That really was a brilliant way to set up their world. Almost all of the dialogue in that opening half hour or so was perfect."
Well, it also sets up a parallel to the secret of plan A and plan B. Here, we start out being totally sure we know what's truth and what is a hoax. And Cooper is dead sure he knows what's true and what isn't. Until he's not. Everything in this movie kind of loops back on itself.
You know that time travel scene in Bill and Ted...
Well, for me, once Coop and TARS have the quantum data and Coop starts his LONG Morse session... what I expected was him to feel a tap on the shoulder, "Hey, it's two million people on a giant human space ark, one of many, heading out to all the stars... thanks for helping with the gravity equations, Dood! "
Right, great dialogue. One of the parts of the film that wasn't so obvious but paid off later in smaller ways when it did loop back on itself.
I've watched Inception too much. I figured once he was in the tessaract, we'd somehow wonder if this was his near-death imagination of his children (like Matt Damon kept talking about) or an actual communication between him and Murph. But they obviously explained that and gave us an epilogue where he survives so there was no need for any heated "did the top fall or not" debates.
[Kylee Wall] "no need for any heated "did the top fall or not" debates.
Because the top fell.
Or as Michael Caine put it,
“The spinning top drops at the end, that’s when I come back on. If I’m there it’s real, because I’m never in the dream. I’m the guy who invented the dream.”
Which means I don't have to see Interstellar, right?
I don't know, maybe because of a low attention span through a lifetime of drinking highly concentrated sugar water, or simply out of the pre-arranged anticipation of knowing I was going to get my mind blown once they got to outer space; the first act of the movie almost, *almost* felt like a chore for me to get through. It was a flagrant case of me mind-shouting one of my favorite go-to Simpsons quotes: "When are they going to get to the fireworks factory...?!" But you see, it's not that I wasn't enjoying the first act so much as I was just waiting for the second act to start. There were plenty of good scenes in the first 45 minutes, in retrospect, and while I may or may not have been impatient (I was), it was all stuff that made the entire experience more enjoyable when I thought of it as a giant delicious spiced nebula pie, and not just as the tiny slices I was eating over three hours. Without the front chunk of the movie, there wouldn't be a workable back chunk, probably more so in Interstellar's case than most other movies. I will say however, I did like how once McConaughey decided to fly the spaceship, they just showed him saying goodbye to his family and layered the audio to when they were launching the ship in the very next scene. In a movie with perhaps not a lot of restraint in the editing department, I could have definitely seen them try to cram four more minutes of shots of him contemplatively putting on his space suit in the NASA locker room, or five minutes of people checking all the equipment before take off or something. I appreciate that once it decided to get to finally get to the fireworks factory, it just cut immediately to the M-80s exploding everywhere.
The performances were good. Nobody brought the show down any notches or anything, though Topher Grace was a bit jarring of a casting choice. I don't think I have the brain functionality to take that guy seriously. I actually probably liked the robot more than a lot of the living side characters. Good robo design that I hadn't seen before, AND it had a sassy 'tude. Sarcastic robots are the best robots. I've kind of been on a McConaughey high the last couple of years, so I dug what he was doing here too. Maybe I wished for more of a "Rust Cohle in space" scenario, but when I think about it, basically the entire movie was a Rust Cohle rant. Christopher Nolan is kind of the Rust Cohle of directors. Always spurting out these insane, complex philosophical ideas in the most entertaining way possible. Have you ever seen that picture of the piece of paper where Nolan sketched out all the timelines for Inception? It looks like a psychopath drew that. I mean, sometimes I have no idea what he's talking about, but I'm just staring at him wide-eyed and listening to what he's saying as if my life depended on it. And it only makes it more interesting when he keeps carving those little figurines out of the beer cans he just finished.
As far as the science goes, I didn't really have a problem with it. For one, it's a movie, so I don't expect it to be textbook friendly to begin with. Also, it's a movie about something no one *really* knows about for sure, so it's pretty much just Nolan's best guess at what would happen if we drove to Saturn and cruised through a wormhole. I'm sure there was some scientific backing from a researcher, or Nolan did his own research, but it's largely just a fantastical assumption for the benefit of the film. By the way, those giant warping space hallucinations, that I'm sure were freaking out the two college dudes in the back row who wanted to take mushrooms before the movie, were absolutely gorgeous and mesmerizing to look at. I wish the movie has 200% more of them. Now, is that what actually happens in a wormhole? Who cares. It looked cool, and this is just a blockbuster adventure film starring the guy from Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. McConaughey starred in that rom com just *five* years ago! Think about that! The relativity of time and projects chosen by The McCons over a five-year span is a better scientific study than anything discussed in Interstellar.
So I didn't really mind all of the wormhole/blackhole/hydro-blaster/hyperdrive/whatever talk in the film. It kind of needs to be there to make any sense. It's just a bunch of big words in a Hollywood screenplay. To me, it's finely crafted nonsense. But as long as it's finely crafted, I don't really care that it may or may not be nonsense. My number one requirement is to be entertained, but if I can be enlightened too, all the better. I think Interstellar was a nice mix of the two. Yet, for everything that sounded deeply philosophical, there was always that annoying cheesy theory that *love* is a quantifiable element for human survival. Nice try, Nolan. I didn't quite jump on board that one. But as far as having a super detailed agenda to make this very impressive science film, I give the guy all the credit in the world for being able to visualize it in *any* way. If you told me to visualize the relationship between gravity and time relativity, and let me have a year to figure it out, I probably wouldn't have come up with something half as good at what Nolan was able to do in this movie. And then all the Elmer's glue would stop supporting the weight of the rocks on top of the toothpicks in my diorama, and the judges would laugh me off the stage. Oh god, has my fly been down this whole presentation?! I'm humiliated!
I kind of have some regrets about being lazy and not wanting to drive an hour to Navy Pier and see it in 70mm, and just opting to drive to the much closer regular IMAX. Because 70mm is the optimal way Interstellar was supposed to be seen, coupled with the fact that I kinda don't really have a burning desire to watch Interstellar again in theaters, and I wish I had made my one Interstellar theater experience the best possible one. In a perfect scenario, I would have liked Interstellar so much that I'd want to see it again, and then I'd go to Navy Pier on a Tuesday and have my mind blown again in 70mm. But that's not really the case. Once is enough for now, and then I'll watch it again for two weeks straight in the background once HBO starts to spam it at the end of next year. I just didn't love it. It's ambitious as hell of a concept, it's very pretty to look at, but it didn't feel like something that had enough moments that gave me chills or anything. I don't want to deter anyone from the grandiose spectacle that was this movie, which despite anything I've said here I actually enjoyed quite a bit; but maybe I just like my modern space adventure movies to be more concise, fun, and possibly have a talking raccoon. But to each his own. [goes back to watching Ren & Stimpy episodes on Youtube]
I'm curious as to how you liked the sound track and more to the point, the audio mix.
I liked the soundtrack, i.e. the actual music written, it seemed appropriate and epic with a touch of space adventure. Zimmer usually is pretty solid (even though I like Williams and Morricone better overall). But yeah, the mix itself wasn't very good. At times, it was so loud that I could barely hear the dialogue, and other times it was kinda loud for the sake of being loud during a cool effects shot, which I didn't mind. It went both ways.
But in the IMAX, in the first couple of scenes, right after McConaughey woke up from a nap and started talking to his daughter, the IMAX speakers were just emitting some horrible, really loud back-and-forth humming sound, that I couldn't tell if was actually in the movie, or they had crappy speakers that day? Because it went away in the next scene, and didn't really come back for the rest of the movie.
In a semi-related note, I was watching Inception the other day (because I was on a Nolan fix) on my non-surround sound office TV, and I had to jack up the volume on the movie because I could barely hear the dialogue, but then when it went into a Zimmer song it would be so obnoxiously loud that my fiance yelled at me from another room to turn it down. I don't know if it was poor mixing on the Blu-ray or my TV is crapping out or what, but it wasn't a very even mix.
[Scott Roberts] "Christopher Nolan is kind of the Rust Cohle of directors."
That's a good way of putting it. I saw a recent article where he basically talks so much crap about colorists and DI work right in front of the people doing the work, I'm surprised he doesn't get eggs thrown at him on the street.
[Scott Roberts] "I'm sure there was some scientific backing from a researcher, or Nolan did his own research, but it's largely just a fantastical assumption for the benefit of the film."
Actually, there's a book out by the physicist in charge of doing the science junk on the film called The Science of Interstellar which explains a lot of stuff for anyone interested. It seems that much of it is pretty plausible or accepted by scientist people. I think my main issue with the whole thing was it felt overly explain-y at times. Like, whatever, wormhole yadda yadda 5th dimension. I liked that the science of Inception was glossed over more concisely and I guess you can't exactly do it the same way in a movie like this, but it was just clunky at times.
And I don't hate the idea of love being any kind of driving force, but I thought it was clunky too. Like, I think they were onto something with talking about gut instinct and human improvisation, and you could argue that something like love has to do with humanity doing things that are bananas, but it was just like straight up girl-guy lovey dovey stuff out of nowhere.
So overall I guess I thought it could have been shorter and more concise and it would have been stronger instantly.
And yeah you ruined your life by not seeing it in 70mm.
[Kylee Wall] " It seems that much of it is pretty plausible or accepted by scientist people."
Neil de Grasse Tyson is a scientist person. He's a major sci fi nerd who likes it because he likes it, even as he's generally dismissive of the science part of most of it. On the other hand, he thinks Interstellar gets it right.
And I trust him almost as much on stuff like this as I trust Michael Caine. I trust Neil plenty, mind you, but Caine definitely gets the edge.
I feel like I've seen all of Interstellar that I will ever need to see because I saw this.
[Tim Wilson] "even as he's generally dismissive of the science part of most of it."
Except for when it's REALLY important.
[Tim Wilson] "Because the top fell."
Or DID IT? Do you actually trust Michael Caine?
[Tim Wilson] "Which means I don't have to see Interstellar, right?"
No, go see Interstellar dammit.
In my particular theater, the sound mix was just fine. I really liked the music.
Nolan gave Zimmer a one-page description of the story, told him to avoid strings and large drums heard in most sci-fi, and gave him 24 hours to come up with his concept for the music.
Same with the robots, Nolan wanted to avoid the typical humanoid shape. Let's face it, aside from simulating needed human contact on a deep space mission, there is no practical reason a robot needs to look like a person. Take C3PO - I realize he is an interpreter and designed for diplomatic work, but wouldn't it be great if he had like 12 arms, ran a little faster and had eyes in the back of his head? The TARS design was simple yet when needed could become more complex, like that awesome spinning wheel move on Planet #1.
Taking obvious points from 2001, the scenes outside of the spaceships were correctly silent.
Approx. 1/5 scale models were build of the landers, so that IMAX cameras could be mounted to them as aerial footage was projected behind the models - thus those sequences were filmed for real, and not composites.
Loved all the Apollo references, even the on-rocket shots during the initial launch.
Agree Anne Hathaway was a throwaway character, kind of like her Catwoman role for the same director - didn't add much to the story except whining.
I read a lot of Wikipedia pages about Kip Thorne and theoretical astrophysics after seeing this movie. That whole thing with the event horizon inside a black hole is very hard to grasp, and what exactly was the data that they needed? Something about allowing the giant spaceships to escape from Earth without massive rocket engines. I guess antigravity technology based upon the crazy gravity that is a black hole.
The scene at the end where Cooper steals a ship to go find Anne Hathaway is basically the same as showing Joseph Gordon Levitt discovering the Bat Cave, and then seeing Bruce and Anne in Florence nodding at Alfred. Not really necessary and adding a heartwarming vibe to a serious story.
I won't hold that against Nolan - he's my hero.