As I left the cinema after watching Interstellar, director Christopher Nolan’s latest assult on the senses, I couldn’t help but feel shortchanged, and it reminded me of how films – Hollywood ones, in particular – are becoming increasingly concerned with spectacle, as opposed to story or character.
Now, before you mistake me, I’m not saying that Interstellar is a bad film. No siree. But when you scrape away all the scientific mumbojumbo and dazzling visuals, there’s not much left.
Other than Matthew McConaughey’s lead Cooper, the other characters are well fleshed out, and the central narrative is all but a means to an end – a way of tying one impressive set piece to another.
Interstellar is the latest disappointment in a new trend of spectacle-heavy, yet narrative-weak films. This year alone we’ve seen a handful. Lucy was fast-paced and blistering with violence, but the story underneath was blotchy at best. And the less said about Transformers: Age of Extinction the better.
Of course, it’s silly of me to assume everyone wants stories with their action and adventure. I imagine some aren’t too fussed about their heartstrings being pulled as long as their eyes and ears are pummelled for two hour stretches. But I expect more.
The other day I saw Mr Turner. Now, I know, it’s not exactly a film out to reach the blockbuster multiplex audience. Yet Mr Turner, directed by the wonderful cinematic auteur Mike Leigh, combined story with character, pathos and sumptuous artwork to deliver a feast for the heart as well as the eyes.
If a moderately budgeted British art house film can achieve this, then it’s not unreasonable to think Hollywood with budgets ten times bigger can, too.
They have done in the past. Jurassic Park, ET, Finding Nemo and Toy Story meld story with visuals to perfect effect.