Christopher Nolan: Big buzz and bigger bucks

Christopher Nolan's Rotten Tomatoes ratings. His latest release, Interstellar, has become his worst film to date. (Samantha Sobolewski/The Ryersonian)

Christopher Nolan’s Rotten Tomatoes ratings in an infographic. His latest release, Interstellar, has become his worst film to date. (Samantha Sobolewski/The Ryersonian)

A movie that was receiving initial Oscar buzz just months ago may now go down as director Christopher Nolan’s worst reviewed flick.

Currently sitting at 71 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, Interstellar is Nolan’s first venture into directing since he wrapped up the Dark Knight trilogy. The critical response has put the movie just behind Nolan’s 2006 magical mystery The Prestige on the movie-centric website that collects film reviews from publications across all different platforms and countries.

There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with Interstellar from the outside; it’s a big-budget, action-driven, sci-fi flick with a star-studded cast including Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway.

But early reviews seem to be challenging the validity of Nolan’s quest for an emotional examination of family and humanity.

“While he has tried diligently to show humanity in a flattering light, he lacks enough inside information to get it right,” wrote Liam Lacey in the Globe and Mail.

“It’s his longest film, his headiest, his most personal. And, in its square-peg-in-a-round-wormhole stab at being the weepy motion-picture event of the year, it’s also his sappiest.,” said Joe McGovern in his Entertainment Weekly review.

Somewhere along his 168-minute path to cosmic greatness, Nolan may have gotten lost among the stars. And without the reviews to back it up, Ryerson radio and television arts professor Michael Coutanche says the movie doesn’t have much hope of cleaning up at award season.

“I think it will really depend on not just box office, but truly will be critical response,” said Coutanche, who began his career as manager of acquisitions and development for Alliance Atlantis Pictures. “I think you’d really have to come up with a deep story this time, a deeper story on a character level that is his own.”

Coutanche pointed to Nolan’s previous work, Memento, as an example of the kind of emotion within a film necessary to really push a movie beyond average to spectacular. Nolan received an Academy Award nomination for his work with the screenplay

But the all-elusive best director nod has yet to come for Nolan.

“Chris Nolan would probably want to think that [Interstellar] is just going to be another feather in [his] cap,” said Coutanche. “But I don’t know very many directors who kind of hit, hit, hit and progress all the way through their careers every single time.”

It’s also hard to not draw comparisons between Interstellar to last year’s Oscar hit, Gravity. Both are set in space, both feature strong female leads and both seem to focus largely on using the great expanse of space as a backdrop for an examination of the intimate relationships between characters.

“Whenever in Hollywood a big success like that comes out, the other studios are saying we’ve got to do a Gravity of our own,” said Coutanche. “So I think they’re going for maybe a similar feel, but I think they want to make sure this is a Christopher Nolan movie.”

No matter how Interstellar fairs with critics, Coutanche says it won’t have any problems at the box office.

“The publicity hype is so huge, and Warner Brothers and those other distributors are so good at this that you can’t avoid not seeing it,” said Coutanche.

Interstellar opens in wide-release in theatres and IMAX on Nov. 7. The movie has made an estimated $1.3M since it’s domestic limited release on Nov. 5.

Check out this weeks Friday Five audio series for more on this and other popular culture topics:

By: Alexis Allison and Samantha Sobolewski

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