A STUNNING SPACE ODYSEEY
OF CINEMATIC NUNANCES AND QUANTUM CONFUSION
Christopher Nolan has sure made a name for himself in the world of movies. When he creates a movie, everyone notices it with a heightened sense of wonder and intrigue. Nolan started out with good, but lesser known feature films such as Following, Memento, Insomnia, and The Prestige. He eventually became largely well-known for his superhero blockbuster The Dark Knight trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises) and his mind-bending dreamscape drama Inception. Those four films grossed incredible numbers at the box-office and skyrocketed Nolan to being a sought out director in Hollywood. Now, two year after releasing The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s directional magic returns to the big screen with his much anticipated film Interstellar. Does Nolan’s newest film reach for the stars or just sets adrift into the vastness of space?
Set sometime into the future, the Earth is dying and on its last breath. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA pilot and now turned engineer and agricultural farmer, is trying to find a balance between raising his kids, Tom (Timothee Chalmet) and Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) and growing crops to save the populace. After uncovering a mysterious code, Cooper finds the last remnants of NASA organization, which went undergrounded sometime ago, and is persuaded by Professor Brand (Michael Caine) to pilot a space shuttle on a dangerous mission; passing through a nearby wormhole and finding a sustainable planet on the other side. With the fate of mankind (literally) on his shoulder, Cooper elects to pilot the mission, leaving behind his family, which emotionally destroys Murphy, and joins team members Brand (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyasi), and the two robots TARS (Billy Irwin) and CASE (Josh Stewart) on a journey into the unknowns of space, hoping to save humanity from extinction.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
For the most part, Interstellar has been kept shroud in secrecy with its trailers and promos not truly giving anything “spoiler-ish” away (Beyond the basic premise of the plot) and media embargos placed until the movie got released. This, of course, makes the film that more refreshing and entertaining as you watch the film with intrigue of what’s going to happen and how will it end. Though Nolan interjects a lot of scientific realism into the picture, the movie itself is the stuff of science fiction with its characters blasting off into space, exploring the unknown, venturing into wormholes, searching for other habitable worlds, and subtle hints at intelligent “higher beings” (Aliens). Nolan seems to pull from other classic sci-fi films (or at least harkening back to) such as 2001: Space Odyssey, Contact, and even a little bit of Gravity for this movie. So, in a sense, if you like those movies, you’ll probably find Interstellar to your liking.
From a visual standpoint, Interstellar is absolutely stunning. It’s clear from the get go that a lot of time and money has been spent on the film’s production and post-production. It just simple looks gorgeous with meticulous level of detail (Both practical and CG rendering effects). Truly, the cinematography, done by Hoyt Van Hoytema, is commendable whether it’s a simple earth setting or on a strange unworldly environment; working congruently in keeping with Nolan’s grand vision for his feature. Adding to the scope and visual flair of the film, Nolan enlists the famous composer Hans Zimmer to score this space opus of a film. Zimmer, who has collaborated with Nolan on several of his films, delivers a stellar and melodic score that fits perfectly and, moreover, beautifully with subtle approaches on quieter scenes, while powerful and bombastic pipe organs are played to convey scenes of emotion and dramatic tension. You simple just don’t listen to the music, you feel it. All in all, Interstellar’s sights and sounds are unparallel to any recent features out in theaters, making a grandiose movie experience to moviegoers. Seeing it in IMAX (Which I did) is the best possible way to see it and immersive yourself within its world.
There are several key problems with the Interstellar, which drag the film down and pulls focus from its space exploration yarn. With a running time of 168 minutes, the film stretches its complete story out with considerable pacing problems, making the feature feel too long and tedious at some points. There are also a great deal logical scientific references, which tries to give film plausible reasoning, but simply becomes nonsensical science techno babble. Unless you have a PHD in physics, you might be thing “What are they doing?” or “What did he/she say?” (I surely did). Then there is the climax of the movie where the direction of the film changes oddly. It branches into unknown territory in the universe and becomes a little strange and perhaps a little perplexing during this scene. (It has a kind of Deus Ex Machina feel to it). Finally, there are several piece of Interstellar’s plot that kind of don’t make sense as if Nolan just rushed through these events to move the narrative along or even simply didn’t have a clue how tackle said obstacles in the story’s writing process. (Again the whole Deus Ex Machina towards the film’s ending fits into this category). It’s disappointing because these things (Big or small points I make) cripple the film from truly reaching exalted greatness.
Interstellar pulls together some big names in Hollywood, a few smaller ones, and a couple of cameos that will surely surprise viewers. I won’t go into detail about some as that would spoil the movie, but here are the main ones. Matthew McConaughey leads the pact as the film’s main character Cooper. McConaughey, who has exploded this past year from the film Dallas Buyers Club and the HBO series True Detective, does a really good job in his performance, producing emotional effect fluently and believability. However, he does fumble a bit here and there with his “fast-talking” quips or perhaps just clunky dialogue written for his character. The same goes for Anne Hathaway’s character Brand, who delivers a good performance, but get weighs down with a couple jarring dialogue written for her. Jessica Chastain plays the older version Cooper’s daughter Murphy and does exemplary job in her performance role, offering powerful emotional scenes. The same thing can be said for Mackenzie Foy, who plays the younger Murphy. Lastly, it wouldn’t be a Christopher Nolan movie without the appearance of Michael Caine, who plays Anne Hathaway’s father and (per usual) serves as a minor character, who propels the narration further in several scenes.
As a final note, Interstellar presents an interesting theme in its narration. While the fate of the humanity is at stake, the film is framed by the dilemma of family and work /duty and the strenuous relationship love and anger between a parent and child (Cooper and Murphy in the movie), something that is common in our world.
Interstellar is ambitious, but imperfect. The film is Nolan’s love note to space travel from its exploration to the scientific, but perplexing space / time theories that will surely leave a few people scratching their heads with confusion and understanding. However, once viewers digest the quantum mechanics of it all and move pass the unexplainable narrative holes in the story, Interstellar becomes that more enjoyable. Ultimately, the likeability comes down to what each viewer takes away from the movie as it may vary from person to person. To me, it had its logical faults in its storytelling and its undertaking, but Interstellar delivers on scope and grandeur with spectacular visuals and emotional drama that collectively create a beautifully crafted cinematic experience.