So, I watched the movie today.
First impression: I know thing I have a much better understanding of why my dad loves to watch 2001.
Second impression: This movie makes Inception look like a popcorn movie.
When I saw Inception on DVD, I could see how that would be cool to watch in theatre, but it didn't seem like a big loss to me that I only saw it on a 28" TV. But with Interstellar I really wish that I did. I only got to see it on a measily 24" TV. But
with 5.1 sorround sound! Good thing my neighbours are on vacation.
I can completely understand anyone who sees this movie and doesn't like it. Or think it's not very good, or that it is confusing. I am actually quite surprised it did as well as it did. This is seriously heavy stuff. The science part of the science fiction is indeed pretty high in acuracy to most science fiction movies, but I don't think that's what the movie is about at all. There are lots of nice little phyiscs and engineering details, but I think almost all of them will go way over the head of 99% of the audience. And they are not plot relevant.
This movie is oldschool Nolan mystic existentialism. The space visuals are to a high degree decorative and serve to establish the mood. But it's not a hard science-fiction story. It's much more metaphysical. And again, you probably need quite a good understanding of the subject to even get what's going on.
But here Nolan did something very interesting and very courageous. Lots of people have called the sound mixing on the movie absolutely terrible. And yes, many times the music is ridiculously loud and half the time you don't understand what the characters are saying. But that's on purpose.
To quote the sometimes almost just as mind-boggling TV show Babylon 5:
Kosh: "There is a question?"
Talia: "Yes. I've been scanning Mr. Abbut all day, and his mind is still just as empty as when we started. And these phrases that you keep speaking in, they don't make any sense.
Kosh: "Ahh. You seek meaning. Then listen to the music, not the song."
It's deliberate. What the people say is irrelevant. The story is almost entirely told through visuals. When it's really hard to tell what exactly they are saying, it's either technobabble where they just say what buttons they are pressing, which just sounds good but has no meaning to the audience, or they are reciting platitudes about love or hope. The words don't matter, you understand what they mean through their body language. And the music being deafening serves the purpose to create disorientation during hectic action scenes and to overwhelm the senses. It's to make the audience stop thinking and just feeling. And that's also why it's almost three hours long. It's not too long or badly edited. It serves a purpose.
And I think it works wonderfully. But I can totally see how people get annoyed by it. As a space adventure movie it really would be just terrible. Inception still works as an action movie and the Batman movies are meant to be action movies. But interstellar is really a very heavy art movie.
I really love it. I see myself rewatching Inception, Blade Runner, and Ghost in the Shell a lot more often in the future than Interstellar, but it still is really quite the experience.
If you enjoy weird existentialist art films and have a thing for space and physics.