Making the Grade: Interstellar Review Report Card | Fanboys Anonymous

Making the Grade: Interstellar Review Report Card

Posted by Anthony Mango Friday, November 7, 2014
HD Interstellar photos screen shots poster
Welcome to the first edition of Making the Grade—a new review format segment here on Fanboys Anonymous where we break down the five major components to something and give it a score based on the standard report card lineup: A, B, C, D, and F for a total failure.

With that being said, the first review will be for Christopher Nolan's latest film, Interstellar.

Interstellar—directed by Christopher Nolan; written by Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan; starring Matthew McConaughey (Cooper), Anne Hathaway (Amelia Brand), Wes Bentley (Doyle), Jessica Chastain (Murph), Matt Damon (Dr. Mann), Mackenzie Foy (Young Murph), Casey Affleck (Tom), John Lithgow (Donald) and Michael Caine (Professor Brand).



The biggest flaw of the movie is the characters within it. Almost none of them have any real traits to identify them. In fact, leaving the theater, I still don't know how to describe almost anybody outside of some very basic qualities. Who is Romilly? He's "the black guy on the ship" and nothing else is really known about him. Anne Hathaway plays Amelia Brand, aka "the woman on the ship who loves this guy that we've never seen." The two most prominent characters are Cooper and his daughter Murph, but you can essentially boil them down to father and daughter and you've gotten the point. I don't know any real nuances of anybody. Who was Topher Grace? Oh hey, look, there's Not Walter O'Brien from Scorpion playing, well, I guess Walter O'Brien from Scorpion because it's Elyes Gabel and he just came out of nowhere. No time is spent learning who these people are, so I don't care anywhere near as much when something happens to them. Hell, it seems like Cooper himself doesn't really care about what's going on with his son, Tom, for the entire movie.

Some plot points would have hit a lot harder if there had been more work done building up the characterization. You shouldn't care more about what happens to the TARS robot than to John Lithgow. The finale of Cooper going to Brand left me with a sense that I should be happy that they're going to be a couple, but there was little to no flirtation between the two to set up any reason to root for them to get together. Cooper wasn't trying to get over the loss of his wife and met someone new in Brand, nor was Brand really seemingly gaining anything out of a relationship with Cooper. The relationship between Cooper and Murph was the only one that seemed to matter, but even that was a stretch. We know they love each other, but we don't see why.


The cast was strong, but they weren't given much to work with. Nobody will be nominated for any kind of awards out of this bunch and it isn't for a lack of trying. Everyone performs their jobs admirably and I buy into them being who they're supposed to be, for the most part. However, I do get the feeling that since the characters are so wooden, you could replace any actor in any role and I wouldn't have noticed. If Wes Bentley would have played Dr. Mann instead of Matt Damon, would that have made any impact on the presentation? I doubt it.


Everything looked top notch and true to itself. The technology wasn't so super-advanced that it made me feel like I was watching a sci-fi film that was trying too hard. In fact, it sort of felt like I was watching a documentary at some parts even though I know that it is fictitious. The shots in space are, of course, the most appealing and the best achievements. While Gravity killed all of the hype for this type of film and this won't get anywhere near as much credit in comparison just because it's already been done, the team responsible for bringing us into this dystopian world and empty cosmos deserve a round of applause. In particular, I loved the visuals of the study's time displacement, the wormhole, and the black hole.


If there's one thing that struck me the most during this film, it was the score. While it isn't going to be anywhere near as memorable as what we've seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the main theme can really drive your feelings well. The sad part is that this is nothing new, as I had the same rush of emotion while watching the trailer months ago. In fact, I would say that I had a much stronger response to that rather than the movie itself. I'll definitely be getting this soundtrack to listen to on those late nights when the world feels like its collapsing and I want to be taken along for a ride.

Also, kudos to them for keeping up the silence in space and not bending to the audience who would prefer the opposite.


This is a serious film about a serious subject. It does not market itself as a romance, so the lack of romance isn't something to rip it apart for. There are a couple jokes that made me chuckle while not going too far into the comedic to take me out of the mood. This deals with a lot of isolationism and makes you feel that. It is a dire situation and not once does it let you forget that if things go wrong, everyone is doomed. The scenes on Earth are lifeless and rough. The scenes in space are lonely and cold. This is a heavy movie that will weigh on you if you're the type of person who thinks about where the human race is going and how a scenario such as this may not be too far off into our own futures.


Am I glad that I saw this? Yes. I was going to see it no matter what, just because Christopher Nolan has an overall good track record with me. I absolutely love Memento, Inception, and The Dark Knight Trilogy. On the other hand, The Prestige and Insomnia are not movies that I highly recommend to people. Interstellar is better than those two, but I would say even The Prestige is more fun to watch. I'd be more likely to pop that on for a second viewing than to rewatch Interstellar any time in the near future. Insomnia is so far still my least favorite of Nolan's films that I've seen and you won't hear me talking about Interstellar like its a failure, but you won't hear me sing its praises like you would with Inception. Make no mistake—this movie will not be winning Best Picture and may not even be nominated. Going into this, I expected to like it a lot more than I did, which means my disappointment makes me dislike it even more than if I went into it with a clean slate. If this were the first Nolan film that I'd have watched, I liked it enough to check out his other work. The length of the film is something I'm sure people will be upset about, but that didn't bother me at all. The main thing that bothered me is that in the span of three hours, I never got to learn much about any of the characters and I feel as though some of the time spent dealing with the problems in space probably could have been better served getting to know who Cooper, Murph, Tom, Brand and the others were.


Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.