Mockingjay Part 1 (6/10): Propaganda for what is to come

“I have a message for President Snow: If we burn, you burn with us!”

When Francis Lawrence took over director duty for the second film in the Hunger Games franchise we got a much more serious YA adaptation from Collins’s novel. The film had a great sense of pacing and storytelling while introducing us to the Capitol and the other districts and not just focusing on the actual Hunger Games. I thought it was a much better film than the first, but I still loved them both. They ended up in my list of the best films for the year in which they were released, so my expectations for this third film were huge considering Lawrence was back in the director’s chair. I still had some concerns about adapting the final book in two parts because the first parts didn’t work too well with the Twilight and Harry Potter franchises. My concerns turned out to be true because I did have a similar issue with Mockingjay Part 1. The entire film felt stretched, focusing on small details that didn’t do much to build the tension of the story. It actually hurt the pacing of the film that the director had worked so well with in the previous installment. This first part felt like a slow build-up and a giant filler to what will come next in the grand finale, so I couldn’t help but feel let down by what Francis Lawrence had to offer. I still enjoyed Mockingjay, but it doesn’t live up to its predecessors. 

Mockingjay is a huge departure from the previous films. There are no Hunger Games and very little action scenes here, while there is a lot of exposition and preparation for what is to come. The previous films worked as a social commentary on reality TV, while this one focuses more on advertising. Catching Fire allowed us into the Capitol where we got a glimpse of who the real enemy was, but in Mockingjay we don’t see what is actually going on in the Capitol and everything takes place mostly in District 13 where a big revolution is uprising. What all three films do have in common is the strong lead performance from Jennifer Lawrence who holds everything in place and keeps us engaged with this dystopian world Collins has introduced us to. When certain scenes in Mockingjay began to feel tedious or drag out a bit too long, Lawrence’s Katniss reminded us why we are tagging along with this franchise. She literally is the symbol of hope for the rebellion as much as she is for the franchise. This film is more political than the previous ones and we are introduced to a lot of propaganda (not just as a build-up for the next film, but actual propaganda as the Capital and District 13 try to smear each other’s credibility). The political intrigue plays out as a sort of chess game where one side tries to outdo the other. This was done really well here, but the problem was that it became repetitive, and that is where I felt the story was incredibly stretched out.

Jennifer Lawrence has some great scenes in this film, and others that felt a bit cheesy (the nightmares for example), but during a scene where she sends a message to President Snow she gave me goose-bumps. I also enjoyed the scene where she sings “the hanging tree” lullaby. Those were the moments that drew me back to the film and reminded me why I loved this franchise in the first place. I am sure the second part of this film will work better, but the slow build-up didn’t do much for me here. I missed some of the characters that I had learned to love and that only got a few minutes of screen time here. Haymitch and Caesar provided some of the much needed comic relief in the previous films, but here everything becomes political and serious and there is little room for them. Effie is perhaps the character who comes out better this time around and Elizabeth Banks nails the role once again. The new characters didn’t do much for me and despite the fact that Liam Hemsworth gets much more screen time as Gale he doesn’t do much either. Claflin’s role as Finnick is nowhere as nearly interesting as it was in Catching Fire. Phillip Seymour Hoffman brings class once again to his role and he also stood out for me, while Josh Hutcherson shows much more range as Peeta here despite the very little screen time he’s given. So despite having a lot of interesting characters in the franchise, they really don’t get to do anything interesting in Mockingjay. Of course, the film ends with a teaser and we will all return for the grand finale despite the slow build-up because enough time has been spent on these characters and we care for them.


The Homesman (5/10): The female take on the Western Genre

“You are a poor specimen of a man, Vester Belknap!”

I want to begin with a few positive critiques of Tommy Lee Jones’s latest film, which happens to be his fourth behind the director’s chair (he also stars in all these films as well). The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada was his only film released in theaters prior to this one since his other two films were made for TV. In The Homesman he returns to the Western genre, although it is very different. Instead of focusing on the macho cowboys we’ve seen perfectly represented by Clint Eastwood and John Ford, in this film we get the female’s point of view. The lead character is a singe woman who has battled the harsh conditions of the western wastelands on her own. This isn’t one of those macho western films, it is slow and tedious, focusing on the tension the women had to face in this period. In that sense, The Homesman is a fresh and original film. It also captures the harsh conditions of the wasteland extremely well. The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto  is gorgeous and perhaps the main reason why I kept engaged with the film despite the tedious script. There are also plenty of surprises along the way and interesting twists that I didn’t see coming. The film definitely breaks several genre conventions and delivers something fresh, but it was just too bleak and grim for my liking. I had a difficult time staying awake and found myself dozing off in several occasions, but there are some great scenes along the way that brought me back in to the story. This is more of a western drama, but there are a couple action scenes that worked extremely well. Ultimately, there is a lot of interesting things that Tommy Lee Jones is doing here, but I just felt the tonal shifts and the melancholic setting were a bit too depressing for me. 

The screenplay for The Homesman was adapted by Tommy Lee Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald, and Wesley A. Oliver from Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 novel. The story isn’t actually as interesting as the scenery and performances in this film. There are several tonal shifts and at times the film felt unbalanced. There were some funny scenes that worked well along with the action scenes, but other narrative elements didn’t resonate with me. This isn’t one of those films you will enjoy, but fans of the Western genre might appreciate this unique film. The Homesman is also elevated by the strong performances from Hillary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones. The two have an interesting chemistry and they deliver solid roles. Their characters are as sombre and grim as the scenery, but they still manage to feel authentic and believable. They take us to this period and remind us it wasn’t all about cowboys and indians. The emotional element is also present and they are perfectly captured by Jones’s low life drifter and Swank’s hard working independent and honest character. The supporting cast is also exceptional, including Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, John Lithgow, and James Spader, but none of their characters were given much screen time. Overall I had a difficult time staying awake because the narrative is tedious, but there are some positive elements about The Homesman.


The One I Love (7/10): Duplass delivers a unique premise once again

"You can't buy a gorilla."
I avoided all commentaries and trailers of this film because I had heard the less you know about it, the better. The high rating that critics were giving The One I Love was what attracted me to it, and I took their advice of trying to stay away from any further comments. That is perhaps one of the reasons why I was able to enjoy the twist in this romantic tale of a struggling couple who are trying to save their marriage. My review will be spoiler free because I want everyone to experience it kind of like in the same way I did. The premise might seem like a simple one, but the truth of the matter is that it is inventive. This is the feature directorial debut from Charlie McDowell who delivers a solid film, and it is also the first screenplay written by Justin Lader which explores marriage in a rather inventive and engaging way. 

I felt like The One I Love explored these issues of marriage in a similar way to what Gone Girl did (although without the thrills) in that we sometimes tend to idealize our partner in a relationship. Perhaps it has to do with how love and marriage is sold in our society as something we receive rather than on something we give. Love isn’t just about what my partner could do for me, and that leads us to idealize what we want that other person to be like instead of accepting him or her for who he or she is. We expect each other to fulfill a certain role in marriage and sometimes that leads to a false idealization. The exploration of love and marriage in this film makes us think about these issues by introducing an inventive concept which may work for some, but turn others off. It worked for me better conceptually than how it was executed. I did find some problems with the narrative in the way some things were explained, but I can’t get into those issues because I’d have to spoil the film in order to do so. But there is one particular scene that takes place in a room involving a computer that sort of felt misplaced. However as a relationship drama the film does succeed by making you think of certain issues and it will have you discussing several scenes with your spouse or friends after the movie is over. It was a very satisfying experience for me and I did enjoy the ending.

The performances in this film are great. It centers almost entirely on the performances from Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass. Ted Danson has a small role in the beginning of the film, but from then on the chemistry between the two lead roles is the basis of the movie. Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass give impressive performances here which feel authentic. They feel like a real married couple and the tension between them during this moment of crisis is authentic without being melodramatic. The setup is believable which is a must for a film that is exploring love and marriage. It is an artful and funny film. Duplass is known for starring in these unique films, but I enjoyed this a little less than I did Safety Not Guaranteed and Your Sister’s Sister. It’s still a very refreshing film which does tackle the issues of intimacy and marriage pretty well. 


And So It Goes (3/10): And down it goes

“You have a beautiful voice, particularly when you make it all the way through a song.”

Rob Reiner has directed some fantastic films over the years, but he has also delivered some terrible ones as well, and “And So It Goes” might just be his worst yet. Reiner is still a director I admire for his fantastic work in When Harry Met Sally, one of my favorite romantic comedies, and Misery an engaging thriller starring a phenomenal Kathy Bates. His most beloved films however are The Princess Bride, Stand By Me, and This is Spinal Tap. His filmography proves that he has directed a wide variety of genres successfully. Unfortunately it has been almost two decades since he has directed a decent film and he has lost a lot of his credibility. It’s as if he really doesn’t care anymore about directing creatively unique films and only goes for generic commercial films. Over the past few decades he’s directed Alex & Emma, Rumor Has It, Flipped, and the Magic of Belle Isle. The Bucket List was the last from him that I actually enjoyed, but I’m on the minority with that one, so you’d have to go all the way back to the 90’s to recall his latest success. Considering how much I enjoyed his earlier films, I still have hope he will give us another masterpiece. 

For the time being, Rob Reiner seems to be enjoying his retirement by making generic films aimed towards specific target audiences. In his latest film, And So it Goes, he targets the senior adults, which is somewhat an ignored target. I found it to be a very bland and generic film, but most senior adults in my family enjoyed it so I guess he accomplished his goal. It is basically a chick flick for senior adults because it follows the same predictable premise. I found the story rather dull and formulaic. Michael Douglas plays his usual grouchy self. He’s a widower and self centered realtor who doesn’t care about what others think about him. All he wants is to sell his last house and retire to a quiet place. His life changes however when his estranged son leaves his daughter in his care while he serves his prison sentence. Diane Keaton place the loving and sweet neighbor who helps take care of the granddaughter. She also plays her usual lovable self smiling and crying a lot on screen. I love Diane Keaton and she was my favorite thing about this film. Without doing anything unique the chemistry between the two lead roles is what works best in a very predictable and silly script. Mark Andrus’s screenplay is probably my least favorite thing about And So it Goes. The way the story is told never makes much sense as to how these two characters would fall for one another. The film doesn’t really go anywhere and the sentimentality is forced upon the audience in a cheap way. Reiner even has a small role in this film making the film look more awkward than it already was. Sterling Jerins plays the beautiful young girl that is left in Micheal Douglas’s care, and despite being very cute she doesn’t really act too well. The narrative felt offbeat at times as well, and despite some few funny scenes and a strong chemistry from the lead roles, the pacing was a bit tedious.


November Man (3/10): As bad as the title suggests it is!

"Know what we used to call you Peter? The November Man. Cause after you passed through, nothing lived."

Experiencing November Man felt like simply passing through and not feeling anything. I definitely didn’t get any sense of enjoyment from Roger Donaldons’s (Species, The Bank Job, The Recruit) latest film. The only thing it has going for it is getting to see Pierce Brosnan as a spy agent once again, although Peter Devereaux is a somewhat more serious character than James Bond was. It tries to portray him as a much darker character, but I didn’t feel that way about him either. For a film that is trying to separate itself from the classic spy action thrillers it ends up relying on the same genre cliches and familiar plot twists. From the very opening scene of November Man I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy this. I didn’t like how these characters were introduced or how the action scenes took place. It was a completely dull experience for me.

November Man was adapted from one of Bill Granger’s spy novels centering on the anti-hero, Peter Devereaux. It is based on his 7th novel, “There Are No Spies,” which unfortunately I have never had the privilege of reading so I can’t say how faithful this adaptation is. What I can base my review on however, is on how poorly written the characters are for this film. They try to portray Devereaux as a darker character, but at the same time they want to make us like him and understand him. I would say he is your typical spy who has been betrayed and is trying to discover the truth along the way. There is one scene where he cuts an innocent girl’s femoral artery which felt out of place considering the film never tries to be a character study and focuses mostly on the action scenes. If the rest of the film focused on this gray side of his, I would have no problem in accepting it, but it mostly portrays him as a good spy who is trying to protect innocent lives. That scene sort of contradicts everything he has been portrayed as, especially in the opening scene. For a dark film they never go all the way to portray Brosnan as an anti-hero and they spend most of the time jumping from one familiar action scene to another. It simply doesn’t stand out as neither an original serious spy thriller nor an entertaining light hearted one. Donaldson never figured out how to balance this film correctly and adapt it to the source material.

November Man is an average spy thriller that relies heavily on Pierce Brosnan’s charismatic performance. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t enough to save the familiar script or the poorly executed action scenes. The secondary characters were uninteresting and they failed to engage me, while the film relies on one too many familiar twists. Luke Bracey plays the young CIA agent who is being trained by Peter, but after a series of unfortunate events unfold that puts them face to face against each other. Bracey’s character was poorly written and I didn’t enjoy his performance either. The film centers on these two characters as they are forced to face each other, but Bracey’s character is so uninteresting I did’t really care for it. Olga Kurylenko is a beautiful actress, but her performance here kind of reminded me of some of her other bad films such as Max Payne or Hitman. The sub-plot involving the Russian female assassin was laughable and pointless as the entire film was. 


Into the Storm (3/10): Really? You haven't seen anything like this before?

"I've never seen anything like this!"      

Following his work in Final Destination 5 director Steven Quale takes us Into the Storm so we can experience what it would be like to be in the path of several tornados as they destroy an entire town. The visuals aren’t really fantastic but they do provide some excitement and thrills as we see these tornados coming together and lifting whatever comes across its path. I did enjoy some of the scenes where we see an airport being recked and several planes being sucked into the tornado, but there isn’t anything else this film has to offer. It doesn’t live up to the mother of all tornado films, Twister, as much as it tries to. Twister may not be a perfect film, but at least it incorporated the human element. In Into the Storm there isn’t any character development whatsoever and we never care for the people on screen. Kind of like one of the character’s in this film the only goal is to film and experience the tornado from within. In order to make the experience a bit more realistic, Quale decided to direct this film using found footage so at the beginning of the film we are introduced to several characters who are explaining to us why they are actually walking around with their cameras. So the opening thirty minutes or so take place to justify why there are so many cameras in order for us to get different angles of the tornado in different parts of the city. I honestly didn’t feel like there was a script for this film because the sole purpose was to film these tornados ripping apart a city while the characters looked at each other screaming “I’ve never seen anything like this” over and over. Unfortunately Quale, we have seen this before many times and there was nothing original or engaging about it. So I’ll give the film some credit for the visual effects, but the script brings it down. Into the Storm is simply tornado porn that feels like a movie you would catch on the SyFy channel. 

I mentioned that the script was weak and of course that doesn’t help build the characters, but the performances weren’t all that solid either. We are first introduced to a team of tornado chasers led by Matt Walsh’s Pete. The other familiar face in this group was Sarah Wayne Callies who plays the scientist in charge of predicting where the tornado will strike. TV fans will recognize her from the Walking Dead and Prisonbreak series. The other group we are introduced to is a family that is making video capsules of themselves. Max Deacon and Nathan Kress play the two High School sons who are raised by their father, played by Richard Armitage, who also happens to be the Vice Principle of their school. There was something about Armitage’s face that reminded me of Hugh Jackman. I guess the film was so uninteresting at this point that my mind was drifting. The third group of characters we are introduced to are a couple of redneck daredevils (Kyle Davis and Jon Reep) who are trying to become Youtube sensations by doing all sort of crazy stunts. These characters are introduced for comedic purpose and we get the familiar redneck comic relief from them. They were probably the best thing about this film other than the storm set pieces. 


Dracula Untold (3/10): There is nothing untold about it.

“My father was a great man, a hero, so they say. But sometimes the world doesn't need another hero, sometimes what it needs is a monster.”

If you are going to make a film about the origins of one of Hollywood’s most fearful monsters then you better have a solid script that focuses on the character development of Dracula rather than overstuff the film with special effects and action scenes. Director Gary Shore may have tried to give us an origin story, and he even gave it the title Dracula Untold, but what he really does is deliver another cliched and familiar action film. We really don’t learn anything new about this classic character in the film other than the fact that he was a good fighter and a loving family man who sacrificed himself to protect the people he cared for. I would argue there isn’t much of a unique idea in that premise and that the title untold is a bit deceiving. There just isn’t anything unique or appealing about this character to claim that you are delivering an origin story. The only thing Shore tries to do here is humanize the monster and make him seem engaging. Instead of trying to focus on the character however, Dracula Untold delivers one action scene after another relying on its computer generated special effects. The film might captivate some audiences who are looking for a fun time, but there is nothing memorable or legendary about it. I can imagine a documentarian making a film about Hollywood’s portrayal of Dracula and mentioning all the films that have centered on this monster but leaving this unremarkable film out of the list simply because it is easy to forget and it never seems to be a film about Dracula really. You can add Dracula Untold to the never ending list of tiresome and uninterestingly generic vampire films. The only pleasure I got from Dracula Untold was that it made me feel good about my decision of not having seen I Frankenstein.  

The script for Dracula Untold is probably responsible for the failure of the film because the cast did a pretty decent job. I thought Luke Evans delivered an interesting performance. He has some entertaining action sequences and looks the part as well. Dominic Cooper might not be menacing in this film but he gave a decent performance. Sarah Gadon was beautiful as Dracula’s wife and inspiration. I did’t have an issue with the performances at all, but it was mostly the overload of action scenes that didn’t manage to keep me interested. They seldom do (Hercules might be the only exception this year and it wasn’t a film I was crazy about either). I didn’t care too much for the CGI either so there was really very little this film had to offer me. I was just disengaged with the story and found it overly generic and too familiar. If you are going to give your film the title of Dracula Untold, you might as well give us something original and unique that hasn’t actually been told before. 

Horns (5/10): A mishmash of genres

“Tell me! Tell me everything I need to know!”

Alexandre Aja has never lived up to his directorial debut, High Tension, but to give him credit he did manage to set the bar pretty high. I haven’t really enjoyed any of his horror films since then, but I have to admit Horns was quite a unique experience. It was nothing like his previous films, and despite being considered a horror film it isn’t really one. There aren’t any scary moments in Horns and there is actually quite a bit of humor. It is more of a dark comedy mixed with mystery as the lead character, played by Daniel Radcliffe, has to figure out who murdered his girlfriend while the entire town suspects he did it. Along the process he acquires a strange supernatural ability after waking up one night with horns on his head. These horns make the people around him confess their deepest and darkest desires to him. He can also manage to look at people’s past once he touches them. Using these abilities he sets out to find the killer, so you could say this is a superhero film as well. You could classify this film in so many genres because at times it felt like Aja didn’t know what kind of film he wanted to make. There were many tonal shifts and some of the genre changes felt forced. I was really into this film during the first hour because the premise hooked me and the story was interesting. I also found the weird sense of humor quite funny, but as the story progressed and some revelations were made my enjoyment faded rapidly. It just lost track of what it was trying to do and most of the genre switches felt displaced and misbalanced. The film also becomes tedious towards the end because it felt overlong at two hours. Perhaps the childhood flashbacks could have been eliminated to allow a better pacing because I didn’t feel they added much to the story. Horns had so much potential to be a better film but unfortunately it suffers from trying to balance several tones and loses its identity in the process.

Keith Bunin adapted the screenplay from Joe Hill’s book, which I haven’t read so I can’t say how faithful the adaptation is. What I can say is that Daniel Radcliffe gives a strong performance and his American accent is spot on. It is interesting to see the transformation his character goes through as he discovers the power these new horns give him. Radcliffe is proving to have a wide range as he has played some dark characters this past year trying to break away from his Harry Potter days. I wasn’t a fan of the supporting cast mostly because the dialogue in this film felt melodramatic and forced at times, but Juno Temple does give a solid performance. It was fresh to see her in this role as a sweet girl instead of the trashy trailer park character she has often played. We believe that this girl really is the object of affection of the townspeople.  The rest of the characters in this film are forgettable and no one really adds anything to the story. 

This modern day fable-like story has a nice visual style to it. The town where it is set is gorgeous and we are surrounded by this beautiful landscape which contrasts with the darkness of the story and the characters. Unfortunately Horns doesn’t just suffer from a mishmash of genres, but it also seems to have some inconsistencies with its premise. I can’t get in to details without spoiling the film but there was something about the revelation of the murderer that didn’t make sense to me. The other issue I had with Horns was that it never established some of the rules of what the horns could do. At times it seemed as if the people had to ask Radcliffe’s character for permission to perform their darkest desires, but at others they simply did them even when he was against them. So why would some people ask them if they didn’t need his permission in the first place? That was just a minor issue I had, but nothing that really took me out of the film. The first hour of Horns is really engaging and entertaining, but the final hour is a letdown.


My Review: Blackfish (9/10)

“There is no record of an orca doing any harm to a human in the wild.”

Despite not being the world’s greatest animal lover, I remember being fascinated by the gorgeous killer whale during my childhood. I recall one of the incidents that a trainer had with these animals when I was young, but I thought it was just part of the perks of working with wild animals. Ever since, I believed these were dangerous animals. I also found myself on SeaWorld’s side believing that they were offering us an amazing opportunity to see these animals up close, while at the same time domesticating them. I never believed these animals were suffering from captivity or anything of the sort. I was just as blind as the former trainers who are in this wonderful documentary sharing their experiences. Gabriela Cowperthwaite delivers a carefully constructed case in Blackfish by giving evidence that these animals are not only intelligent beings, but highly emotional and social as well. She convinced me with her forensic and detailed evidence that the attacks like the one in SeaWorld weren’t simply part of a working hazard, but provoked by the inhumane treatment these orcas receive in captivity. There is no doubt in my mind now that these attacks are a direct result of their captivity. Gabriela sort of ruined my childhood memories, but she accomplishes her purpose and convinced me not to support SeaWorld. Blackfish succeeds in that regard because it accomplished its purpose and was effective in my case. 

Most of the time documentaries can be interesting although dull, but Blackfish is just as entertaining as it is informative. I was hooked from the very opening scene and I never felt bored during the interviews or the footage. Cowperthwaite’s case might be one sided and biased, but it isn’t her fault that SeaWorld didn’t want to participate in the making of this film. Having these former whale trainers share their experience, while watching their footage with the whales was effective as well. They’ve all had a change of heart because you can tell they actually love these animals and most of them established an emotional connection with them. I wonder what present day trainers will think of this after watching all the compelling evidence presented here. Not only does Gabriela point out that these animals are highly emotional and social, but she also reminds us that these animals have never attacked anyone in the wild, they live much longer lives in the wild than in captivity, and that it isn’t normal that their fins drag to their sides like most of the whales in SeaWorld. The only evidence she introduces which I would debate was when she mentions that Tilikum’s (one of Seaworld’s biggest whales) offspring could acquire that learned aggression towards humans, but scientists have proven it’s not the case. The documentary is very aggressive and it is effective in sending out the message and provoking a reaction in the audience. I will admit that there are also some tearful moments in this documentary as well. Blackfish makes its case and does so effectively.


My Review: Interstellar (9/10)

“Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Interstellar was my most anticipated film of the year so my expectations for this film were huge considering the subject matter and the fact that I am a Christopher Nolan fanboy. Despite the several flaws I found with the script, I wasn’t disappointed, but I can understand how this might not work for several audiences. First of all the scale of this film was huge even for a Nolan film. He is such a visionary director and he doesn’t settle for simple narratives. The script is so complicated at times that it does make you wonder and ask yourself questions about the logic behind the theories. I’m no expert in quantum physics, but I think Nolan does a pretty convincing job of selling it. He did his research along with his brother and they created a solid sci-fi script. Many people complained about the fact that Nolan sometimes explains his plot to the audience instead of just letting them figure it out, but I find it necessary at times because of the complex structure he elaborates for his films. He enjoys creating these puzzles, but at the same time he helps us put the pieces together. Interstellar is one of my favorite films of the year, but I wouldn’t rank it amongst Nolan’s top 5 best films. If there is someone who can make a film about physics interesting it’s Nolan and he manages to do so in this nearly three hour film. This is by far his most ambitious film, but it does fail at being the ultimate space epic film it so desperately tries to be. However there isn’t a dull moment in Interstellar and you are never bored by the world he creates. Unfortunately the final payoff of the film isn’t as rewarding as I was hoping it to be. The final 20 minutes of the film are perhaps the weakest part of the movie and it sort of tries to wrap everything neatly at the end like most Blockbuster and commercial films try to do. 

I know I have complained a bit too much about a film I really enjoyed, but I will now try to explain why this is one of my favorite films of the year. First of all the cast in this film is brilliant. There is no better time to cast Matthew McConaughey in a film than now. He had a fantastic 2013 and MUD was my favorite film of that year. He was also amazing in True Detective so I was ecstatic about him joining Nolan’s cast for this film. He is great in the lead role and provides some of the most engaging emotional moments of the film. Despite how highly ambitious the subject matter of the film is and how colossal his task, he manages to keep things small by narrowing it all down to the family dynamics (especially through his relationship with his daughter). He is not saving humanity, he is trying to save his daughter. We believe the sacrifice he is making and it is what makes the humanity aspects of this film work. He is going through an inner conflict of accomplishing his purpose by saving humanity while realizing that he has abandoned his children and is missing being a part of that. Jessica Chastain is also great in this film. She is a talented actress and is at a great moment in her career as well. The most emotional scenes of Interstellar revolve around her relationship with her father (McConaughey). There is a scene midway through the film where he receives a message from her in space that is emotionally gripping. Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway team up once again for a Nolan film and deliver despite not having such interesting characters. Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, and Topher Grace were underused, but they are all talented actors. The cast in this film is superb and they lifted this visionary tale even further. But the casting isn't the only element that Nolan gets right. The visuals in this film are fantastic! I was blown away by the scenes that took place in space. The first act of this film is solid and establishes the present world on Earth in a rather realistic way, but the second act raises the film to another level. The scenes in space and the wormhole are amazing. It also becomes suspenseful and full of tension. Unfortunately the third act didn't work as well for me and the ending was a bit too touchy feely. The score in this film by Zimmer was fantastic as usual and helps build the emotion. 

So in summary the film is incredibly well shot, it has astonishing photography, superb visual effects, an awesome cast and score, and one spectacular robot. The robot in this film has to be one of the best I've seen. He is also the funniest character and helps lighten the serious tone of the film. I loved Interstellar, but if you had issues with the explanation and exposition in Nolan's Inception, than you will have a similar experience with this film because there is a lot of exposition in space about the theories and what it all means. I have no problem whatsoever with this because it is simply part of Nolan's trademark. He wants us to understand every small detail of the plot because he has worked and studied these things before putting them on the script and he doesn't want the audience to miss out on his creative process. Interstellar doesn't get a perfect grade from me because it isn't as epic as it is trying to be, but I will give Nolan a lot of credit for his ambition and for delivering a fun action thriller with huge ideas. It also pays homage to early sci-fi films like 2001, Solaris, and Contact. The film has taken a lot of processing from me since I first saw it and that is what I look for in movies. I am sure I will be revisiting this film soon because it was a fun experience and one I am sure will generate a lot of debate amongst movie lovers. Interstellar is a carefully crafted and well executed film and Nolan continues to prove himself as one of my favorite contemporary directors.