When Kip Thorne was initially set to be a part of Interstellar, a sic-fi thriller, he set up one ground-rule: nothing should violate the existing physical laws. It’s amazing to learn how the most famous astrophysicist of the contemporary world sat down with 300 graphic designers, and a myriad of coffee-cups to produce 800 terabyte of data that rendered for about 100 hours.

Thanks to Thorne, the idea of wormholes, black holes and five-dimensional tesseract are effortlessly slipping through the “codswallop scanning area,” without much of a hiccup, but on the narrative side, Nolan singlehandedly sabotages the entire idea; I wonder how better Spielberg could have pumped life into the painfully unfinished script. (The Jurassic Park director, who happens to be Chris Nolan’s role model, initially agreed to direct Interstellarbut dropped out later.)

‘[With Interstellar,] Nolan comes very close here, one might almost say agonisingly close, to forging his masterpiece,’ says Tim Robey of Telegraph, and I concede, to a certain level; obviously, Nolan had been greatly finicky to details of scientific ideas, the wild speculations of gravity manipulation, but when it comes to script writing, there are all forms of adequacies to a completed script, but dropped at a very anarchical phase. Yes, I have watched the Dark Knight series, and I have fallen in love with every second of it; and that’s why I have a reasonable inkling to tell Nolan could have rushed the script, trying to cram too many ideas; forging wild speculations on intergalactic notions; and as the backbone of the script, a middle-aged farmer and a former pilot, trying to save the planet. (And we don’t even know why he was chosen to make decisions in space travel, when there are world-class physicians, lurking behind his back.) 

Alright! A dystopian, future humans race, who happens to have the technology to travel till Saturn in search of a tear in space-time fabric without any hiccups, cannot save the paddy field, and get rid of blight with all their frontal cerebral intelligence? That’s how, Nolan, we make a weak plot! Okay, apart from that, the three-hour script was capacious enough to accommodate some mundane dialogues; sentimental crap that was so mediocre that I had to groan, much to my friends’ disdain; Anne Atheway’s excellent acting wasted on moments like “I just learnt that my father is dead, but I am indignant that he never told me this was a lost mission.” Poor characterization not only weakened the plot-line, but stopped a beautiful scientific idea from reaching mainstream culture in the way it deserved. Whatever happened to the human emotions of the astronaut crew as they set off into a space journey away from home, and when it comes to pulling the audience to the edge of their seat, we’d have to kill the least-fascinating guy, right? Poor Wes Bentley should have stuck with The Hunger Games, but alas, Seneca was hung to death, wasn’t he?

I wish I didn’t have to say this at all, especially for a movie directed by Nolan, but the plot was littered with cliches. Bay could have done a far better job at handling the inside-space-pod scenes, but here we are, watching Hatheway’s and McConaughey’s stunned faces, instead of the breathtakingly beautiful void. (You can say it’s implied, but come on!) What was Nolan thinking, when he forced Matt Damon into the script to fill the stagnant script, and conceived the-hackneyed character-turning-villainous moment, when we were all supposed to gasp, but the poorly written script made it fall flat. Come on, like we all didn’t know McConaughey was going to hoodwink the winsome Hathaway and attempt a glorious try at I-am-going-to-sacrifice-myself-for-humanity, either? I understand that inside the black-hole, and that glamorously eye-catchy (was that even necessary?) tesseract, a person can manipulate gravity and travel between galaxies in the blink of an eye, but the dubious script failed to tell a believable tale that audience would understand; but the fact that the next scene opens with McConaughey’s head resting on a soft pillow transcended even the fictitious dystopian rules. (Stephen Hawking would have cringed, and grabbed a tea to numb the migraine.)

Characterization that makes the on-screen cast feel like they are sitting behind your shoulder was Nolan’s biggest strength, and this movie where he attempts to cram too many things in could be his cue to pack his bags up from sci-fi streets of Hollywood. The infinite power of “Love” is already told and retold over the centuries, and the fact that this was given a modern touch by Thorne is, indeed, commendable, but the way it was done, and as USA Today clearly says, was a flawed masterpiece!

I am not saying Interstellar is a bad movie, but if you go to theaters with pop-corn and Coke, so you could later palaver your uninterested friends with jargonistic scientific ideas, and tell people that they should watch the movie not once, but twice to truly understand it, this is what I tell, with a lot of misgivings:

A director’s job is to tell a story, not confuse the audience with one!

And I am not even mentioning Kamal Hassan’s name here.

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4 thoughts on “A Fantasy Sci-Fi Idea Ruined By Poor Narrative: Interstellar Review

  1. I second every word of yours. All this hype is truly bad for Nolan. Everyone went berserk over football this world cup or were determined to (perhaps due to FOMO) and it’s open season again. I loved the dark knight series to bits; the prestige that came with a hint of reality(tesla vs edison) and even the multi-tiered ambitious inception. But interstellar..? there were “whoa” moments but all that thinking gave me a headache. It was made worse by reasoning with friends-turned-“nolanists” overnight. haha… Kamal Haasan might take a lead from it…with one difference though. He’d end up playing everybody. Great post… i had a blast reading it!

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  3. “A director’s job is to tell a story, not confuse the audience with one!”

    Not really. An ambitious director’s job is to tell a complex story while pushing our minds. Nolan did that well with “Inception” . He confused us in a delightful way. Whether you look at it as an allegory to movie-making or a dream within a dream or a dream therapy session for Cobb, the movie is solid. The movie convincingly weaves the ideas of inception and Cobb’s internal conflict in one beautiful movie! The ambiguous ending also makes perfect sense.

    I think he tried to do all that again and failed with “Interstellar”. Just when I was ready for some much needed exposition, he would cut to some other stupid scene. When I was ready for some visuals, the characters would have stilted dialogues rambling on philosophically . Whether it is the cringe worthy Anne hathaway “Love” monologue or Matt Damon’s character explaining his murderous motives, the dialogue fell flat!

    Generally, I agree with you. “Interstellar” was one of the most ambitious Sci fi idea that was ruined by poor narrative.
    I still love such movies as opposed to “Star Wars” or “Mad max”.

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