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Yes, No, Maybe So: Interstellar

Christopher Nolan's space-travel epic Interstellar finally reveals something of its plot (the Earth has depleted its natural resources. "time to die," a replicant might say but Michael Caine aint having it and suggests space travel instead.

In the first non-teaser trailer we get quick glimpses of the biggest names in the cast and spend lots of time with Matthew McConaughey, a former engineer with two kids, one named after Murphy's Law (but I don't quite remember Murphy's Law this way, do you?)

trailer breakdown after the jump

• Matthew McConaughey's been on a roll lately
• Anne Hathaway!!! (and the HathaHaters can continue blowing me). One of the best new movie stars the 21st century has yet produced. Perhaps a reteaming with Nolan is a very smart move since even the haters liked her in those daringly filled Catwoman heels?
• Please tell me Jessica Chastain has more than just a cameo, however fetching she looks in said possible cameo with scorched earth backdrop. She's a big yes, too 
• Space travel is, at this point, an underused subgenre of sci-fi, since most movies with aliens are now about us being attacked rather than us going anywhere
• The visuals look handsomely executed (not that we'd expect less from Nolan and team) 

• I just realized while watching it a second time for screencapping that there's no mom which means we have another 'sad guy with dead wife/girlfriend' cliche going in. Nooooooo! If I were Mrs. Nolan, I'd be super worried about my husband's fixation on this. 
• I'm not sure I've ever shared this before but: I do not get Michael Caine. Never have. Don't even like him in Hannah and Her Sisters. Still it's cute that Nolan loves him. All auteurs should have character actor mascots: that supporting face they just can't think of making a movie without. 
• The movie world would be an infinitely better place if all trailers and promotional materials were only allowed to use footage from the first half of their movie. It looks like what's happening here. (Leave some sense of discovery for the movie theater!) But then I remembered Nolan's insatiable love of exposition and how long it takes him to get to anything (seriously I can't with Inception... how do people have the patience for it's "let me tell you about 'inception'" redundancy?) and maybe this is like the whole movie and we just hear about space travel for 2 hours with a little thrown in at the end to mark the place where sequels go? 
• Bracing myself for the Nolan fanboy army, who are surely already writing their odes to this film. Good god they're insufferable whenever one of his movies comes out. I know that's not Chris Nolan's fault but other than Scorsese I can't think of any contemporary director with that much Renton-like bug eating mind control over their slavish fanbase.

• "I am not one of your fannssss"... allow me to quote Mommie Dearest by way of admitting that I'm not a Nolan fan in case you're new. Which is not to say I don't think he's untalented. I liked a few of his pictures well enough (Memento, Batman Begins, and The Prestige mostly. The Dark Knight is only awesome insofar as Heath Ledger is awesome) I've just never seen him make a "Great" one. Still, I suspect that his recognizable brand of heavy-handed portent and infinite genre grandeur might be a lot easier to take when its married to something more epic like what we appear to be seeing here. That sense of scale felt a little oversized when it was about that rich billionaire in a Batsuit (tough life) or the corporate espionage guy with can't get over his dead wife grief. 


Are you a Yes No or Maybe So? It looks like I'm a "no" through sheer word count but that's only because the "no"s require explanation. I'm actually a yes because a) sci-fi b) cast c) curiousity to see how this is interpreted politically since people often take very right wing messages from his movies and yet it seems to be of the "we destroyed our world" liberal environmentalist bent... at least as kickoff point. All that plus d) in the wake of Gravity it's going to be amusing to see filmmakers try to top its technological grandeur

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Reader Comments (39)

I'm a Nolan fan, so I was a YES when the project was announced. However, I'm also a YES based on the trailer. It isn't nearly as captivating as the Inception trailers - or the trailers for Nolan's last few movies, really - but it still works. Can't wait to see this.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

"I can't think of any contemporary director with that much Renton-like bug eating mind control over their slavish fanbase."

David Fincher/Sasha Stone?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJestifer

I'm 100% with your 'maybe so'.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterV

I'm a yes for all of the reasons you stated.

Agreed about Nolan fans. I live with one, and it is verboten to say anything remotely less than THIS FILM IS BRILLIANT about any of his movies, even the ones that are decidedly not brilliant. Because of this, I suffer pretty consistent Nolan fatigue, so I'm going to have to push to hear/read/see as little as possible about Interstellar lest I give up on it before I even get to the theater.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Nat: I LOVE Michael Caine in Get Carter and The Man Who Would be King and also like him in The Quiet American. But the nice guy of Hannah and Her Sisters or his Nolan appearances? Caine is at his best when he's nasty or bitter and, as far as I can tell, he's never really acquitted himself that well going against that. He won't tank a movie or anything, it just won't be anything that special or interesting. (Just a guess, but I think Caine's probably far better in Mona Lisa than he is in Hannah and Her Sisters, but the Academy's stupid "sympathetic character boner" got in the way.)

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Terrence Malick has apologists.

Yes to the new cinematographer and Chastain.

No to Nolan and McConaughey.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

"Which is not to say I don't think he's untalented"

That triple negative says otherwise, Nat. ;-)

"I can't think of any contemporary director with that much Renton-like bug eating mind control over their slavish fanbase."

von Trier, Tarantino...

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The trailer gets infinitely more interesting every time McConaughey isn't on screen. The Murphy's Law explanation/character plot points irritate me already (oh a girl that represents something rather than is a human, how new...). Humans having to leave the earth to save it feels a bit done already, ranging from the campy (Armageddon) to the innovative (Wall E). Transcendence, Avatar, etc. etc. have covered similar "we destroyed the planet"/look how "timely" we are! (read: overused) message so I doubt the movie will offer anything new story-wise. I expect this to be something like Gravity: deservedly lauded for its visual innovations but over-praised as a film due to it's lack of narrative boldness. Chastain and Hathaway are definitely > Clooney, but it's a lose/lose battle between Bullock and McConaughey for me (in drama at least) so who knows. I'm hoping to be proven wrong.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Whether or not I want to be a "Yes," this is almost certainly going to happen, as it is assuredly part of the cultural zeitgeist and will be a significant Oscar player and I see every Oscar nominee. Otherwise, I'm intrigued, but hoping that we didn't just see the whole movie. I am hoping that wasn't the full plot, and then we have a whole time in space with the film rather than just the takeoff being the big pull.

And if that's the case, can this please be the only trailer? Trailers are so much better when they're build (think the first Gravity trailer) then when they are plot.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Father-as-Savior = No
Not enough Jessica = No
Hathaway in space = Yes
Post-film what-did-it-mean with friends as after all Nolan's films = Yes
Overall = Maybe so. Guess I'll wait for reviews.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Nolan, Anne and Jessica? Yes please. Not a fan of McConaughey, but I'll manage.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBee

I guess I'm a "maybe so," over all. I can like Nolan (and, unlike Nat, really liked Inception), but mostly I'm not crazy about his films. It looks good enough, but I'd like a better idea of what Hathaway and Chastain are doing.

And...am I the only one who gets REALLY turned off by McConaughey's voice?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Serious, ambitious film about interstellar travel = instant yes. To hell with Nolan fanboyism, Nolan backlash-ism and ideological shoehorning alike.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMikadzuki

Yes: The cast, the premise, the visuals, the score.

Maybe so: Too bad Zimmer, and not Marianelli, is scoring the actual movie.

No: The Nolan fanboys and agnostics/haters are equally intolerable at this point. So much pointless rage on the one hand, so much pointless pearl clutching on the other. It's Fox News and MSNBC goes to the movies, and I hate it.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Nolan, Scorsese and Tarantino are the three directors with the craziest fanboys, and Nolan's are the worst. The proof is in that idiotic IMDb Top 250 - five of his films are in the top 53.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

"Don't even like him in Hannah and Her Sisters."

You're a monster

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny

And the Church of Terrence Malick, why not as huge in numbers as the Nolanites, make up for in the quality of their cult-like adoration and the power of their condescension to the non-believers.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny

Really liked Prestige.
Hated Inception.
Not sure where I'll land on this one.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOwen

Hmm... Do I see it out of love for the Hath? Or miss it because I'm still very off McConaughey?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I love Michael Cain's duet with Maggie Smith in California Suite

Does anyone know Ellen Burstyn's role in this?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllsworth

I'm sure I'll see it, but only thing I kept think about (once we got to space) was Gravity. I just imagine a bunch of execs sitting around saying "Fuck" like Juan Tripp in The Aviator when that one came out last year.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Jessica Chastain is his daughter Murohy as adult

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiv

Not a fan of Nolan at all outside the Batman movies. But this could be really good. I love not knowing much about it.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Dang, Nathaniel. When we agree, we REALLY agree to the point where it's like I've written these things myself. Case and point: Michael Caine. I have NEVER gotten his appeal even though he seems like a perfectly nice guy. He's the human equivalent of white bread. Ditto Nolan and his rabid fan boys, who are infinitely worse than those of any other contemporary director I know.

As for the film in question, I'll almost definitely see it, like it just enough, then get immediately turned off when folks call for it to be nominated for twenty Academy Awards.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

roark -- that is hilarious. I suddenly pictured myself clutching pearls and chortled.

May 16, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm a total YES because of its Nolan, Chastain and Hathaway
But why do I have to suffer a "mcconaissance" again, he's NOT that good!
And I love Caine in Sleuth (the 70's movie with olivier, of course) and Nolan's movies, now he IS that good
Where the hell is Ellem Burstyn in this teaser?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercraver

I think it is great that we are getting a big budget, non-action/comic book/superhero film. Even moreso, one that is not a sequel. It's pretty rare. However, this trailer does not do it for me at all. Based on this trailer it seems boring. The only things that may pull me into the theater are Nolan's name and good reviews. This seems like the McConaughey-show, and his name doesn't do much for me. Hathaway's or Chastain's being lead would perk my interest - but their parts look relatively small based on this.

I generally love Nolan. I'm pretty glad he is no longer doing batman, especially after the terribleness of the dark knight rises. I'm excited for him to tackle more projects - although this doesn't look too promising. I'm a maybe so, based on reviews.

Memento is amazing.

The Dark Knight shoots for the stars and mostly makes it (with a couple of large hiccups).

Batman Begins stumbles a little in the end, but is fantastic - there is a reason everyone has been copying, although less successfully, it's tone and orgin story format - easily one of the best three superhero movies ever made. Go back and watch it - I dare you.

The Prestige has some terrific performances (particularly Bale & Hall), is well made, but it's 'twist' with Jackman's character is utterly insane and ruins that character's arc, and really hurt my overall opinion of this film.

Inception, although it's downfalls widely documented - and I pretty much wholeheartedly agree with them (one of which is its featuring a pair of the worst performances ever from Leo & Page at it's center), is still unique and thrilling. And we can always have more big hit, big budget films that are not sequels or superhero films).

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Did I see like two seconds of out-of-focus John Lithgow holding that kid's hand?

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I'm tired of McConaughey, but Burstyn + Chastain + Hathaway = yes (and I'm an Oscar completist, so I'd probably have to see it regardless).

Ellen should be in the trailer though. What is up with trailers not including our legendary actresses? First Guardians of the Galaxy doesn't include Glenn, and now there's no Ellen in this trailer.

And I think Scorsese's fanboys are the most annoying. I still haven't recovered from Wolf of Wall Street.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

What roark said.

I don't love Nolan, but I haven't disliked a single thing he's done and Inception - for all of it's flaws - has really grown on me.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I am a Nolan fan- loved Inception and Dark Knight Trilogy. But this trailer makes the film look so BORING. It feels like a school lesson you want to sleep through. McConaughey doesn't help with his one note line reading. It feels so serious and somber that I don't want to sit through it. But wow Anne Hathaway's facial expression this the best part of the movie. That is the only frame to showed something exciting was going to happen.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom

Still hoping this is the film that finally cures Nolan of his phobia of integrating interesting/complex females into the main focus of his film. On a sadder note, it's starting to seem both Hathaway and Chastain may more likely than not be sharing any scenes together.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKai Lor

I hate to be the person that thinks Oscars, but this isn't necessarily a "omg will nolan FINALLY be recognised by the academy?" (because his films getting nomination after nomination and even something like 6 wins is cruel and unusual punishment), but... I'm wondering if Wally Pfister's belly-flop of a directorial debut (TRANSFERENCE? I genuinely can't be sure of the name) will hurt his chances in the cinematography category for this. They've nominated him for four Nolan films. FOUR. That's a lot. Hmmm.

I'm a yes because it appears as if it is somebody taking science fiction seriously (Hi Matthew McConaughey returning to the genre all these years after CONTACT, still the best sci-fi film of the last three decades) and it might actually have something to say - look out for the FOX news fundies attacking it for being anti-industry and about how we're destroying the earth. I am also here for Anne Hathaway. I read a gossip thing that apparently McConaughey was a dick to her on set because she was asking questions about space travel and zero-gravity and all of that, which... well... am I meant to mock Hathaway for that? I'm not sure why being interested in the subject matter of your film is considered a hindrance or what have you.

Eh. I'll likely end up disliking McConaughey though.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

HathaHaters vs the Nolan fanboy army

i've always said the only thing worse than people who hate stuff are people who love stuff....

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Glenn - but due to Transcendence, Pfister is not on this film. The cinematographer is the brilliant and as yet unnominated Hoyt Van Hoytema.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Looks like Armageddon filmed on the set of Twister.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Ya know, even if it's bad, I'm a YES. I like Nolan but the fanboys (which, you'll notice, only really became slavishly devoted after The Dark Knight... go figure) have ever so slightly turned me sour on him - he's not God, people. But the premise and cast (and relative restraint of this trailer) are enough to make me interested, even if it does look like a lot of his usual heavy-handed BS, and if it's bad, I'll be incredibly interested to see for myself in what ways it's bad.

And hey, whether it's bad or good, with van Hoytema at the helm at least we can be sure it'll look awesome!

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

All I need for a yes is McConaughey but i have to say i am more excited for Sea of Trees with Gus Van Sant. But i am a total yeah on this. Reason i don't think burstyn is in this trailer could be because she is the older version of Chastain's character. But that is just speculation.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I'm a little on the Maybe So side. This looks handsome, but I agree about Inception, and all this "meant to" stuff just makes me gag. Stop being cosmic.

May 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

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