Tim Lammers reviews the Jonah Hill and Miles Teller true-life comedy drama “War Dogs,” as well as Laika animations studios stop-motion fantasy “Kubo and the Two Strings” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and the crew. Tim, Tom and the crew also weigh in on the latest remake of “Ben Hur” and its box office prospects Hear the segment starting 7 minutes in.
“Independence Day: Resurgence” (PG-13) 1 1/2 stars (out of 4)
Wasting the talents of his most valuable assets (chief among them, Jeff Goldblum), Emmerich instead relies on a younger, unimpressive cast to tow the line. Left with little to go on after that, the director amply uses wiz-bang visual effects (which are no doubt great) and B-movie dialogue peppered with lame one-liners (“It’s the 4th of July, let’s show them some fireworks!”) in a desperate attempt to save the film. It’s a monster disappointment.
Tim reviews “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “Free State of Jones” on KQRS at 33:30 in.
“Free State of Jones” (R) 1 1/2 stars (out of 4)
The timing is odd for the release of “Free State of Jones,” a historical account of controversial Civil War figure Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), who rallied fellow Confederate Army deserters and runaway slaves against the crumbling Confederate hierarchy in Jones County, Mississippi, in the 1860s. While the film is too long at 2 hours and 20 minutes it’s short on the story of Knight himself, thanks to a confusingly-placed side narrative about one of his descendants 80 years after the main events of the movie.
Like any tale based on history, “Free State of Jones” seems to play fast and loose with the facts – either with inaccuracies or ignoring large segments of Knight’s life. The story would have been best served as a History Channel miniseries.
If you found yourself desperate to watch “Interstellar” again after you caught the sci-fi epic on the big screen, Jonathan Nolan is thrilled to reopen up the rocket hatch for another ride on home video.
“That’s the way my brother and I grew up watching movies. If we found one we liked, we watched it obsessively,” Jonathan Nolan, who goes by Jonah, said in a phone interview Monday. “If we found more detail in the second and third viewings, that really became the hallmark of a great film to us.
“With ‘Interstellar,’ there were extra challenges there involving mind-bending physics and the science that we grounded the film in, and that took us years and years to figure out on our end,” Nolan added. “It’s a film that has a density to it on that level, and hopefully it will be enjoyed more and more on that level as you begin to understand the rule-set and some of the concepts that are quite alien the first time through them. Space-time curvature and time warps are a lot to wrap your head around.”
New on Blu-ray and DVD (Paramount Home Media Distribution), “Interstellar” stars Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, a former pilot and engineer-turned-farmer in an unspecified time in Earth’s future. Climate conditions reminiscent of the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s have eliminated much of the world’s food supply, and blight has eradicated wheat and farmers can only grow corn.
Following an odd ghost-like occurrence involving his youngest daughter, Murph (MacKenzie Foy), Cooper finds his way to the now secretly-funded NASA, which tells him that his children’s generation will be the last to survive on the dying planet. Prompted by his old colleague, Professor Brand (Michael Caine), Cooper is asked to pilot an interstellar mission to another galaxy in hopes of finding a world where the human race can survive. The catch is, the widower will have to leave Murph and her older brother behind, perhaps never to see them again.
“Interstellar” also stars Anne Hathaway as Brand’s daughter, Amelia — a doctor on the spacecraft whose emotional vulnerabilities cloud the mission — and Jessica Chastain as the adult version of Murph, who has grown up resenting her father because she felt abandoned.
With a narrative that ties together such elaborate concepts as wormholes, black holes and the idea of love transcending the boundaries of space and time, Nolan no doubt tackled with his brother their most ambitious project to date with “Interstellar”; and we’re talking the same brothers who brilliantly penned mind-bending complexities into such films the last two chapters of the “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “The Prestige” and “Memento” (Jonah penned the original short story, while Christopher wrote the screenplay).
“For me, and I can’t speak for Chris, the ambition was to try to tell a story that certainly wouldn’t encompass, but pointed to the full scope of the human experience,” Jonah Nolan explained. “Most of the films you watch, with a handful of exceptions — ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ being one of them — concentrate on one protagonist and one storyline. But really, the human story for me — especially when I looked at the achievements of NASA and the scientists involved, and the scientists from Newton onward, building the work of the work of ones that came before them for thousands of years — was really a generational story.”
So, Nolan said, while McConaughey’s Cooper is “one protagonist in the piece,” there’s ultimately something going on that’s much bigger than him.
“The real protagonist is humanity, and the work that we do that we hand from one generation to the next in the hopes that we might survive and maybe even prosper,” Nolan said.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of “Interstellar’s” history is that the film did not originate as a project for the Nolan brothers. In fact, one of the film’s producers, Lynda Obst and world-renown theoretical physicist Kip Thorne (who was a consultant on the script and was an executive producer), first hired Jonah Nolan to write the script with Steven Spielberg attached to direct.
Once the opportunity came for Christopher Nolan to direct the film, Jonah Nolan said his brother didn’t scrap what he started to build things from scratch, but continued to add layers to the foundation of his younger sibling’s narrative.
“When I worked with Kip, Lynda and Steven, I brought some ideas to the table and they brought some, and when Chris came to the project, he brought some of his own,” Nolan said. “Often what happens with my collaborations with Chris is, he gets in there and takes one of my ideas and puts his own inimitable spin on it, or adds a beautiful idea of his own.”
One of the biggest changes Christopher Nolan made to the script, Jonah Nolan said, came with a recalibration of the ending of the screenplay, giving it a much more powerful emotional punch.
“The ending to my script was quite pedestrian in comparison to his, and what Chris added to it had the scope and scale of the emotion in the film. It was so beautiful,” Nolan observed. “We have a really fun relationship because he gets to take my ideas and twist them around, and I get to take his ideas and twist them around. We surely think alike in a lot of ways, but he has his own unique perspective.”
And in the case of “Interstellar,” that perspective of being a parent drove Christopher Nolan and eventually, Jonah.
“Most of the work I did on ‘Interstellar’ happened before I was a parent or even married. But when he started working on the script, he had lots of kids and brought that perspective to it,” Jonah Nolan said. “He was bringing the perspective of a father to the storyline, where I was kind of guessing the emotions you would feel with a real acuity. The script clearly benefited from that. It’s always a great experience collaborating on a project with him for that very reason.”
While Christopher Nolan has yet to announce his next project, Jonah Nolan is well into his. The filmmaker wrote and directed the pilot episode of his new HBO series “Westworld,” starring the likes of Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Ed Harris and Thandie Newton. Created by Nolan and his wife, Lisa Joy, the re-imagining of the 1973 sci-fi favorite starring Yul Brynner film will debut sometime this year.
Tim reviews the sci-fi action drama “Interstellar” and the family animated superhero comedy “Big Hero 6” on KARE-TV in Minneapolis with Bryan Piatt below. Also, you can read Tim’s review on BringMeTheNews.com and hear Tim review the films on KQRS-FM (7 minutes in) WCCO-AM (15 and-a-half-minutes in), K-TWIN-FM and KSCR-FM. Also read Tim’s interview with “Interstellar” writer-director Christopher Nolan HERE.