‘Interstellar’ Is A Well-Reviewed Nolan Epic… So Why Does It Feel Like A Flop?

Interstellar Movie Reviewed

If you’ve not seen Christopher Nolan’s ambitious epic Interstellar and were looking for feedback to tell you if it’s worth seeing… you might be confused right now.

Interstellar easily inspires awe and fascination when one glimpses its cinematic trailers.

It even boasts a 72 percent “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

And yet somehow… Interstellar feels like a letdown.

Consider the fact that Interstellar is not the best-reviewed movie arriving in theaters this week; that honor goes to Disney and Marvel’s Big Hero 6.

Glancing at the well-received movies released in the past few weeks, hardly any of these films enjoyed the benefit of discussion and hype gifted to Interstellar.

Yet these movies wowed reviewers in a way that the visually outstanding Interstellar did NOT.

The critical reception for Interstellar left die-hard Christopher Nolan fans somewhat puzzled.

Some have even asked whether Interstellar was simply TOO brilliant for American reviewers. It’s a sentiment that has echoed throughout the Nolan fan base.

This rather pretentious line of thinking seems to ignore that some rather high brow publications have strong criticisms of Interstellar.

Richard Bradley, a reviewer for The New Yorker,had his criticisms.

“The absence of the practicalities of training [for space travel] is a sign of the director’s indifference to the true stuff of wonder: the practicalities of the seemingly impossible mission.

The scientific discussions that undergird the outer-space journey are more or less the only thing in the movie that provide delight.”

As for the overall theme in Interstellar, a message about humanity’s need for and capacity to love, Bradley felt it was little more than a “flowery greeting card.”

This New Yorker reviewer was one of many to compare Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

He was also one of many to point out that Nolan, seen as the heir apparent to Kubrick’s throne as visionary and innovator, failed remarkably at the task of measuring up.

Salon reviewer Andrew O’hehir blatantly calls out Interstellar for trying to outshine Kubrick’s space epic.

“‘Interstellar’ is M. Night Shyamalan’s finest film. It blends the aching, yearning, Hallmark-flavored sentimentality, the melodramatic plot twists and the pseudo-profound philosophical reversals with some surprising nuggets of cutting-edge hard science and a view of the human future grounded in both realism and hope.

It hits all the notes a Shyamalan fan could hope for: It’s about an all-American farm family in the Corn Belt struggling through hard times, it’s about a grand intergalactic adventure whose real subject is family and love, and it’s got numerous scenes of major movie stars trying to hold back the tears but not succeeding.”

The decision to use Interstellar to make an M. Night Shyamalan comparison is chilling for one simple reason: M. Night’s reputation among reviewers and moviegoers began to decline during nearly the exact window of time that Christopher’s reputation began to greatly improve.

Indeed, one has to ask if Shyamalan had never deviated from a pattern of mind-bending masterpieces if movie fans would have wandered off in search of a suitable replacement.

Whether we would we even CARE about Christopher Nolan or Interstellar in a world where M. Night Shyamalan reigned supreme is certainly one for the ages.

This Salon reviewer’s comparison was no doubt made in an effort to demonstrate wit; only time and 20/20 hindsight will reveal if it was an unwittingly prophetic observation about Nolan’s career path.

What is finally acknowledged via the feedback from Interstellar the director has revealed his fallibility. When the time came to eclipse an iconic predecessor (Kubrick, not Shyamalan), he failed in the eyes of a number of onlookers.

Perhaps this glaring failure is why, despite the fact that Interstellar is a well-received movie, some are treating it as though it somehow “flopped.”

Perspective is very important. After all, this observation by critics and movie fans came by way of a film that was praised far more than panned.

Interstellar is by all accounts (even that of detractors) visual perfection. If you are looking for something to dazzle your eyes, Christopher Nolan makes good on early promises.

If you are instead hoping for Interstellar to be a brilliant commentary about life on other planets or the fact-based scientific intricacies of space travel, you’ll likely be disappointed.

As for whether Interstellar is itself a good movie, opinion is divided—though reviews skew in the direction “worth seeing at least once.”

Interstellar will not be the crowning achievement that fans of this director were expecting. Still, the mixed (by his standards) reviews could inspire him to begin to devote as much time to the little details as the big picture. Therein lies a fatal flaw that keeps Nolan from being THE greatest director of his generation (rather than the supposed second coming of great directors past).

If Interstellar leads to something grander and even more ambitious from Christopher Nolan, then in retrospect it will have been a significant and necessary turning point towards the right direction.

It’s doubtful anyone wants Interstellar to eventually be viewed in the same light as The Village.

The Village had all the potential in the world to be amazing, but was thwarted by a twist ending that ruined the movie. It is also widely-viewed as the beginning of the end for the once beloved Shyamalan.

[Image Credit: Interstellar Movie]