‘Interstellar’ Reviews: Does Matthew McConaughey Space Adventure Blast Off or Flame Out?

The critics that like Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster really, really like it, but there are a fair share who don’t

Last Updated: November 7, 2014 @ 9:48 AM

“Interstellar” certainly looks like another home run from “Dark Knight” trilogy director Christopher Nolan, but much like “The Dark Knight Rises,” the film may be a little bit too ambitious for its own good.

Still, the space adventure starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway as astronauts desperately trying to discover a new habitable planet is orbiting above the “fresh” atmosphere on critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes with a 71 percent approval rating.

Individual reactions, however, appear to be all over the spectrum.

TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde praised the film for its “stunning portrayal” of space travel and being “brilliantly written” — for the first two acts, at least.

“Weighing against that, without getting into spoilers, is a third act of staggering wrongheadedness, along with female characters whose intellect takes a backseat to their exploding emotionalism and rage,” Duralde wrote in his review. “Nolan is, presumably, among a handful of filmmakers who gets to do whatever he wants with minimal studio intrusion, but the resolution of ‘Interstellar’ feels so inorganic that you’d swear it was concocted by a Glendale focus group.”

Arizona Republic critic Bill Goodykoontz also felt the ending “doesn’t live up to what has come before it,” but unlike Duralde, didn’t particularly care.

“Nolan’s ambition exceeds his execution in ‘Interstellar,’ sometimes by quite a bit,” Goodykoontz wrote. “Yet when the film ended, I walked out of the theater in stunned silence, trying to figure out what I had just seen. Not in a bad way, not at all. It was more like drowning in a sea of ideas and finally, at the end of the nearly three-hour running time, coming up for air and trying to sort them out. How rare an experience is that?”

Seattle Times critic Moira Macdonald found Nolan’s “Inception” to be a superior thrill ride compared to “Interstellar” and agreed with peers that Nolan was not necessarily on his “A” game. She made the important point, however, that the filmmaker’s “B” or “C” game is still better than the bulk of the blockbuster fare Hollywood bombards audiences with every year.

“Let’s remember what dimension we’re in, here on Earth: the Hollywood blockbuster, where ambition and smarts are too often in short supply. A not-his-best Nolan movie is still head and shoulders above much of what’s out there,” Macdonald wrote. “It’s artful, thoughtful, different, maybe not for everyone — and thank goodness he’s able to have such an enormous canvas on which to play out his visions.”

Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday was among the 54 critics who represent Macdonald’s “maybe not for everyone” theory. Although she witnessed “moments of genuine awe and majesty,” the movie “took muchness to a new level,” which is to say it was ultimately sunk by overloading too many elements into one movie.

“‘Interstellar’ tries so hard to be so many things that it winds up shrinking into itself, much like one of the collapsed stars [McConaughey’s character] hurtles past on his way to new worlds,” Hornaday wrote. “For a movie about transcending all manner of dimensions, ‘Interstellar’ ultimately falls surprisingly flat.”

Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers raved on the other end of the critical spectrum while using his review to take the movie’s haters to task, and praise McConaughey for yet another stellar performance.

“What the neg-heads are missing about ‘Interstellar’ is how enthralling it is, how gracefully it blends the cosmic and the intimate, how deftly it explores the infinite in the smallest human details,” Travers wrote. “McConaughey nails every nuance without underlining a single one of them. He’s a virtuoso, his face a road map to the life he’s missed as his children bombard him with a Rorschach test of emotions.”

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