Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

Interstellar ***

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“Interstellar” is a big, ambitious film that tells a story that spans almost a century and reaches the farthest reaches of space. It is a shame that some aspects of the plot are far fetched or simply not believable because this could of been one of the great science fiction films of our time. Director Chris Nolan works from a screenplay written by himself and his brother Jonathan. Together they seem more interested in the cosmic visuals and the mysteries of space than they do the characters and the story.

The plot is about a team of space explorers who travel through a black hole in an attempt to find a habitale planet for humanity. Earth as we know it will lose the ability to sustain life in the future. Matthew McConaughey leads this team which includes Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, and David Gyasi.

Mcconaughey plays Cooper, a farmer struggling to survive in a future where food is scarce and weather conditions seem to be growing more dire. He is a widower. He also struggles to raise his two kids, his daughter Murph and his son Tom. Murph believes her bedroom is being haunted by a ghost whom is trying to send her messages. Her and Cooper eventually discover that she is being sent coded messages through gravitaional waves. The message comes in the form of coordinates that them to a secret NASA installation led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine).

Dr. Brand explains to Cooper that they have found a wormhole, created by a possible alien race, that has lead them to three possibly habitable planets. Astronaughts have already been sent throug the whole to gather data, none of which as been retrieved and the crews were not hear from again. Brand then recruits Cooper to travel with a team to recover the data and determine which planet could be habitable. This would mean leaving his two young children behind for possibly decades. The first issue I had with this movie is how Cooper makes this decision with little to no notice. Yes the planet is at stake but he basically leaves a day after stumbling upon the secret NASA laboratory. His daughter Murph esspecially takes it hard and refuses to give him a loving goodbye.

The film follows up tearful goodbyes with a fairly rousing space adventure. When the team arrives at the black hole it is a wonder to beyold. The special effects when they enter are awe inspiring and must be seen on the IMAX screen for maximum impact. When the crew arrive on the target planets they find an array of astonishing dangers. The first destination seems to be an ocean covered world that is constantly plagued with tidal waves that are taller than sky scrapers. The next planet is frozen solid and does not seem capable of growing life let alone sustaining it.

The frozen planet has some drama unfold that did not sit too well with me and sort of distracted from the main plot line. When Cooper and his team arrive they find one of the original astronaughts alive. This is Dr. Mann played by Matt Damon. Mann as it turns out faked all of his data that the planet was a good place to settle basically so that he would be rescued. Violence is the result. I don’t for a second believe that something like this couldn’t happen but it doesn’t really have a place in this movie. The result of the confrontation is crew members lost, a damaged ship and a decision by the crew that results in unexpected sacrfices.

Director Chris Nolan and his brother Jonathan have made an admirable film. “Interstellar” is a stirring and sometimes awesome adventure. I just found the characters and their personal stories to be a sort of mixed bag. The actors give truly heartbreaking performances. Is there anyone giving more human an d passionate showcases than Matthew McConaughey these days? Here he is great again as the father who must leave his kids behind for the sake of all man kind. When his kids grow up they are played by Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck who have become jaded in the years after their father left. Murph in particular never sends him a message until decades after his departure. It is too bad they are not working with a more focused story.

The science in the film seems sound. I am far from an expert in space travel or phsyics. I trust that Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who was an advisor on the film, helped to keep the scientific elements as accurate as possible.

“Interstellar” is a film that I want to see a second time in IMAX because visually it is like no other. I am a sucker for any movies that voyage in to deep space. This is a film built to be seen on a massive format like IMAX. I have no doubt it will be a massive box office success. I just don’t think it will become a must see for generations to come.

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Man Of Steel ***

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“Man Of Steel” is a reboot of the Superman franchise. After the disaster that was “Superman Returns”, Warner Bros. decided to start the franchise over with a new director and cast. Christopher Nolan was brought in to come up with a story and produce the film as his “Batman” films have shown us just how amazing a superhero movie can be. His vision for Superman is to imagine what it would be like in todays world if he existed. He then brought in Zack Snyder, the director of films like “300” and “Watchmen” to bring it all to life.

The result is a fairly engaging and some times exhilarating Superman movie. I think this is the film that fans were hoping for when they said that “Superman Returns” did not have enough action. This film has all the large scale destruction that one would want from a summer blockbuster. But it also tells a story that has dramatic weight and meaning.

The film opens on the doomed planet of Krypton. Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, is trying to convince the planet’s government that their home world is going to fall apart and they must evacuate as soon as possible. He is interrupted by General Zod played by Michael Shannon, as Zod stages a coup igniting a massive battle. This sequence is exciting and epic. It is one of the most visionary battles put to the screen since “Avatar. After seeing multiple movies taking place on a futuristic earth, it is a pleasure to visit a different place in the universe.

As Krypton starts to crumble, Jor-El sends his only son, Kal-El, to earth. Kal-El grows up to be Superman, aka, Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill. As a boy he is raised by Jonathan and Martha kent played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. Jonathan thinks it is best to keep his origins and powers a secret because he believes that the people of earth would fear him. One sequence has Clark saving his schoolmates from a bus that has fallen off a bridge into a river. Jonathan says that maybe he should of let them die to keep his secret

As an adult, Clark spends his life as a drifter, occasionally saving lives then falling off the map. Eventually he finds his way to his fortress of solitude and learns the truth about his heritage. This happens just in time to greet General Zod, who has arrived on earth to find Clark for reasons I will not spoil here.

Now amazingly, Snyder is able to dial down his signature visual trade marks in favor of telling a more straight forward story. He focuses on the story of this young man as he quests to find out his true purpose in the world.

The performances were the real highlight of this movie for me. Cavill in particular as Clark Kent, plays it more dramatic that Christopher Reeve did in the original. He is more of a man of action with little time for light hearted humour or romance.

Costner and Lane as his adoptive parents are particularly effective as they attempt to raise an alien with essentially human values. Crowe is also very good here as his biological father, who has instilled his consciousness in the fortress of solitude as a helpful guide.

Michael Shannon, who play’s Zod here, takes on his first major role in a blockbuster film. After giving some powerful performances in independent films, he gets a chance to make a mark in a major studio tentpole and he does not disappoint. His Zod is maniacal but not without purpose. He truly believes that he is attempting to save his own race by basically wiping out all humans.

All the action sequences are top notch, especially when Superman battles Zod and his minions. There is much destruction starting in his home town of Smallville then spanning the globe. My only concern here is the amount of lives that are lost during these battles are way more than you would expect in a Superman film. The city of Metropolis is literally turned to rubble. Skyscrapers topple over on top of each other. The 9/11 imagery is evident in almost every one of these scenes.

So compared to other super hero movies, “Man Of Steel” holds it’s own. I still prefer the Iron Man and Batman series simply because I find their stories to be more complex and interesting. But coming from someone who never really got in to Superman growing up, this movie is pretty great.

The Dark Knight Rises ***1/2

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“The Dark Knight Rises” is my most anticipated movie of 2012. It is a movie that I needed to see a few times before putting my thoughts in to words. I’ll start by saying that this is one hell of a movie and a satisfying third act in the Nolan directed Batman series. It didn’t quite live up to the heights of “The Dark Knight” but it comes pretty damn close.


The story begins almost a decade after the events of “The Dark Knight”. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse who never leaves Wayne manor. After taking the fall for the murder of Harvey Dent he retires his cape but never truly finds a way to move on to the next part of his life.

Gotham on the other hand has benefited from the death of Harvey Dent. The city has thought of him as a hero and passed laws that have basically eradicated all organized crime in the city. This doesn’t leave a lot of work for Commissioner Gordon played again by Gary Oldman and an idealistic young cop played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. That is until Bane comes to town.

Bane, played by Tom Hardy, is bent on destroying the city. His plan is to basically cut the city off from the outside world and create chaos from within. Turns out that he is part of the League Of Shadows, who Liam Neeson was the leader of in “Batman Begins”. He is here to finish what Neeson’s character could not. This draws Bruce Wayne out of his shell and back in to the bat suit ready to battle.

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Batman doesn’t get to far though as his first face to face with Bane results in Bane beating him to a pulp, breaking his back and abandoning him in an underground prison in a foreign country. This is where Bruce Wayne spends most of the movie as he must find the inner will to literally scale a wall to escape.

Tom Hardy plays manages to give Bane an incredible screen presence. Even though his face is covered by a mask that is apparently numbing some sort of pain, his eyes always tell us exactly what he is thinking. They pierce right in to the souls of everyone he encounters. I hate the fact that people want to compare him to the Joker. They are very different characters, with different motives and ideas. Bane is a force of nature, a human wrecking ball that tears through anyone and anything that stands in his way. When he pounds on the Batman, the whole theatre feels it.


Also out there complicated Batman’s life is Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman. She is played by Anne Hathaway as a cunning thief who is reaching the end of the line with the law and is looking for a way out.


With “The Dark Knight Rises” Christopher Nolan seems determined to test Bruce Wayne on a more physical level than he has before. Bane seems bent on breaking his mind as well as his body.

At two hours and forty minutes this is an epic movie but once again it doesn’t feel long at all. In fact I wish there was more to it. My only gripe really is that there is not a lot of Batman in the movie. He shows up to battle Bane then spends most of his time in prison before coming back for an action packed finale.


“The Dark Knight Rises” marks the end of an era. Nolan and his crew successfully brought Batman back to life and took him to new heights. Part of me wishes that it was not over though. I am not so much a fan of trilogies as I am of sustained series. There are villains I would have loved to see appear in Nolan’s series. But it is a fitting finale to what has been an amazing series of films.

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