Interstellar Premiere Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

Monday, 27 October 2014 - 11:22AM
Interstellar
Monday, 27 October 2014 - 11:22AM
Interstellar Premiere Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

The reviews are rolling in from the premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre, and they're not quite as adoring as early buzz would have you believe. 

 

- Here are a few overall summaries:

 

"A grandly conceived epic that engrosses but never quite soars." -The Hollywood Reporter

 

"Christopher Nolan hopscotches across space and time in a visionary sci-fi trip that stirs the head and the heart in equal measure." -Variety

 

"It's a bold, beautiful cosmic adventure story with a touch of the surreal and the dreamlike, and yet it always feels grounded in its own deadly serious reality." -TimeOut

 

"Interstellar is a spine-tingling blend of brains and heart, a high concept sci-fi opera that's as unafraid of cerebral ideas as it is of heart-on-sleeve emotion, even if its ambitious reach occasionally exceeds its narrative grasp." -Digital Spy

 

"'Interstellar'... plays like a confused mix of daringly unique space-travel footage like you've never seen and droningly familiar emotional and plot beats that you've seen all too many times before." -Indiewire

 

The reviews are varied, but both detractors and worshippers tend to agree on a couple points: 

 

- The Effects

 

 

The visuals have, predictably enough, been praised:

 

"'Interstellar' is a roaring achievement of technical proficiency." -Awards Circuit

 

"Nolan is a master technician, and the space flight scenes in this are stunning, whether in the still beauty of a slow pass by Saturn's rings or the swift silent terror of disaster destroying a spaceship in the void between the stars." -Indiewire

 

Nolan maps his infinite celestial landscape as majestically as he did the continent-hopping earthbound ones of "The Prestige" and "Batman Begins," or the multi-tiered memory maze of "Inception." The imagery, modeled by Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema on Imax documentaries like "Space Station" and "Hubble 3D," suggests a boundless inky blackness punctuated by ravishing bursts of light, the tiny spaceship Endurance gleaming like a diamond against Saturn's great, gaseous rings, then ricocheting like a pinball through the wormhole's shimmering plasmic vortex. - Variety

 

"Interstellar features some of the most beautiful images of space I've seen on film. Space feels vast, with the spinning white vessel often relegated to a corner of the screen or lost against the rings of Saturn. The depiction of a wormhole accomplishes the seemingly impossible and makes, well, nothingness look dazzling, as light slides and warps around it like water off a bubble of oil." -The Verge

 

- The Acting

 

The acting reviews are a little more mixed, with some reviewers giving high marks across the board and others lamenting the misuse of talented actors such as Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine. But everyone agrees on the virtuosity of the performances from stars Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain:

 

"These two stars will be rewarded with nominations from SAG and the Golden Globes and the Academy, too. They're both in the golden fluke zone working at the height of their powers. And they deserve it." -Indiewire

 

"The real star is McConaughey: his earthy grit and family-man vulnerability are well placed: we believe his tears when the reality of multi-decade space travel sets in." - TimeOut

 

"McConaughey is everything to this movie... I think he's reached that point in his career where he can't make a false move onscreen. He believes it, so we believe it. He gives himself over to it 100%, and that sincerity is amazing. It reads as confidence and it reads as peace and it gives McConaughey that extra bit of aura that makes him so interesting to watch right now." -Hitfix

 

"At the center of it all is McConaughey, the best part of the movie. He's got that perfect Chuck Yeager/The Right Stuff thing going on, a laid-back drawl that barely hides his vibrating excitement at going where no man has gone before... He's the perfect emotional center for a movie that doesn't quite know how to do emotions." -Badass Digest

 

"Beginning with Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey, just one year after delivering his strongest work ever in "Dallas Buyers Club," he returns with a challenger for his career best turn... It's one of the finest turns of the year, full of emotion and wit... An Oscar-caliber performance." - Awards Circuit

 

"Jessica Chastain lights it up, big time." -Movie City News

 

"The great Jessica Chastain is fully committed to the screen. Offering her ability to relish in the moment and capturing the tears of the audience, she's completely memorable." -Awards Circuit

 

"Jessica Chastain [is] hauntingly good" -Forbes

 

"Chastain in particular burns bright in this film. She gets it... It's not a huge part, but it's essential." -Hitfix

 

But where the raves and the scathing reviews diverged were the opinions on the script and the treatment of the lofty themes. Some felt that Interstellar was the perfect blend of sci-fi, sentimentality, and philosophy, while others thought the dialogue and depiction of human interaction was woefully hackneyed and that the film failed to live up to its immense ambition.

 

- It Effectively Explores Big Ideas

 

 

"'Interstellar' is... faithful to new ideas for our own existence and where we might find ourselves exploring." -Awards Circuit

 

"What purpose does love serve? That's a question posed around the midway mark in Christopher Nolan's operatically ambitious Interstellar." -Digital Spy

 

"On the one hand, the movie marvels at the brave men and women throughout history who have dedicated themselves, often at great peril, to the greater good of mankind. On the other, because Nolan is a psychological realist, he's acutely aware of the toil such lives may take on those who choose to lead them, and that even 'the best of us' (as one character is repeatedly described) might not be immune from cowardice and moral compromise." -Variety

 

"Often when we talk about cinema being a 'ride', we're hinting at a lack of substance, an absence of ideas, an opportunity to switch off. Not so here. 'Interstellar' is, in large part, a spectacle. But it also asks you to think hard, look hard and urges you to return for more." -TimeOut

 

- It Has All the Feels

 

 

"Interstellar' is... a film suffused with light and boundless possibilities - those of the universe itself, of the wonder in a child's twinkling eyes, and of movies to translate all that into spectacular picture shows like this one." - Variety

 

"Until now, Nolan's never made me cry with one of his films, but in this movie, he managed to do it twice, and not just a little bit." -Hitfix

 

"The film's devastating emotional strands refuse to give way to empty sentiment and are embedded in a fractured sense of a nightmare unfolding before the eyes." -TimeOut

 

"[Mackenzie] Foy is an actual character, not a cipher, and the relationship between her and McConaughey gives the film an emotional heft that Nolan's other work sometimes lacks." -The Verge

 

And on the other hand:

 

- It Falls Short of Its Ambitions

 

 

"Christopher Nolan's ambitious outer-space adventure is more admirable for its intentions than for its overall execution." -Forbes

 

"If good intentions were enough to make a movie a masterpiece, Interstellar would be the greatest work of Nolan's career." -Badass Digest

 

"The Nolans' screenplay is constantly telling us what big picture thinkers they are. And as an audience member, I could easily imagine the deep, intense, months long philosophical debates between the brothers and, probably, any other friends who would listen (and keep their mouths shut). But there is an odd shallowness that reduces all the intellectual power that is obviously brought to this endeavor to a 'you mean… one atom of my fingernail could be an entire universe?' stoner joke." -Movie City News

 

- Its Human Drama and Dialogue Are Cliched

 

 

"While the final script is convincingly intelligent it's also heavy on exposition, with characters often stating themes rather than talking." -Digital Spy

 

"The dialogue – never a Nolan strength – is downright terrible through two acts. I mean, off-off-off-broadway play kinda stuff. Painful, no matter how beautifully delivered." -Movie City News

 

"The actors... are script-delivering modules, there to output exposition and process emotional data... In this world human beings are outdated software, bad code to be over-written." -The Guardian

 

"A film where any character says 'maybe love … transcends time and space …' is not exactly an exciting prospect for a moviegoer interested in characters, ideas and plot more than, or even as much, as they are in IMAX-sized visual wonder and all of the feels... the technical marvels cannot make up for the writing... 'Interstellar' spends hundreds of millions to take the audience on a journey to the farthest parts of the cosmos ... so they can be told sentiments as close, and as cheap, as any of the offerings at your local Hallmark card retailer." -Indiewire

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Sci-Fi Movies
Interstellar