Director: James Gray
Brad Pitt’s interstellar epic has received mostly laudatory reviews, I’m more in two minds about it. Let’s start with the positive shall we, as in these dark times we need all the cheer we can get. The whole thing looks fantastic. The opening sequence, where Pitt is knocked off a space elevator stretching from the earth’s surface into space, is one any Bond movie would be proud of. From there we get a series of sharply-realised environments – a moonbase which looks and sounds like Luton Airport; a grimly functional government facility on Mars; and spaceship interiors which look credible and claustrophobic. Pitt’s face, on which much of the movie rests, is entering its craggy hard-bitten phase like some planetary surface after one too many orbits. Space is quiet, mysterious and empty – with humans and craft small fragile particles of light and warmth.
There’s lots to say about our obsession with wellbeing, Pitt is constantly being checked for his psychological stability and someone proudly proclaims that his heart-rate has never risen over 80 (calling to mind ‘Jerome, Jerome the metronome’ from one of our favourite movies Gattaca. Criminally passed over.). Those who fail are cast off to a ‘comfort room’ for forced relaxation,that recalls the creepy spaces at the end of Soylent Green.
What’s so-so? Well the mcguffin – against Interstellar against which this movie invites comparison – is pretty thin. Pitt’s father and cragmeister in chief Tommy Lee Jones has gone missing with his crew on a voyage to the outer solar system. Years later mysterious energy sources are wrecking the internet for everyone on earth, so Pitt must try and lure his father out of hiding and save the world.
Er…that’s it. It’s a bit, well, slow. Sometimes this allows atmosphere to build, as in the latter stages of Pitt’s voyage out. Sometimes it is just well, slow. Pitt’s lugubrious voice-overs attempt to cast his trip and his relationship with his father in deep and meaningful terms, but again these add to the ponderousness this movie does display.
And then, there’s the head-scratching stuff. Tonally there are at least two sequences that appear to have been inserted from a completely different type of movie. Space pirates!! Space apes!!! Donald Sutherland has a baffling and unnecessary cameo. There’s a fight that comes out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly.
Finally, for a film that works quite hard at the start to build a believable future, the laws of physics are in poor shape by the end. One WTF sequence brings to mind nothing so much as the end of Dark Star, but done for serious like.
I would recommend you see it on a big screen, on a Sunday afternoon after a nice lunch. Looking for Friday thrills on your TV I feel it may not achieve escape velocity.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Intersteller, Sunshine, Event Horizon,