This afternoon, I finally got a chance to see the new Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar. I heard a few months ago it promised to be "very strange", and merge some of the epic qualities from Inception along with some of the inspiration from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I did my best to avoid any spoilers and trailers, though it was immediately obvious from the promotional material I saw that there was a blackhole involved, and some difficulty with getting back home. I wasn't expecting the best movie in the world, but I was expected some form of surprise. I think, with most stories, we want to believe that the storyteller knows more than we do. We want to be surprised in some way when we get to the climax of the story, or we want to learn something along the way. If there's anything I learned from The Prestige, another Christopher Nolan movie, it's that the audience doesn't really want to know the truth until the end.
Sadly...while the movie was interesting, exciting, and had solid visuals...it was extremely predictable. The big circular "surprise" was obvious around 45 minutes into the film, and the remaining two hours played out exactly as I expected. I won't go into too much detail, but suffice to say, there are major clues in the opening half hour that practically tell the audience the exact ending to the film. Not only that, the movie's continuous connections to previous movies (namely 2001) make the ending even more of an obvious conclusion. I enjoyed watching it...but I didn't feel like the director knew more than I did.
This isn't really the first time this has happened. In fact, in the past several years, it's much easier to count the movies that have actually surprised me, as the one's I've figured out in advance are too numerous. I'd like to believe it's because I'm simply getting smarter and smarter...but I can't help but feel like movies are getting easier. Just like video games are "dumbing themselves down" to the player in order to incorporate mainstream audiences, movies are doing the same thing. It's as though directors (or more than likely studio execs) are too scary that big budget movies can leave out anyone from their viewer base and have to play to the lowest common denominator. Movies used to pride themselves on being confusing. Take a look at the final cut of Bladerunner and you'll see a movie which doesn't dumb itself down and doesn't explain itself. It's up to the audience to guess the ending and put the pieces together. Interstellar wasn't that movie. I wonder if there's a movie that can truly shroud it's ending in the darkness of an even horizon anytime soon. I wouldn't bet on it.