INTERSTELLAR (2014)


interstellar Greetings again from the darkness. There are probably three distinct groups that view this as a “must see” movie. First, there are the hardcore science lovers – especially those dedicated to space and time. Next would be the core group of Sci-Fi aficionados (those who quote and debate the specifics of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, The Matrix, etc). And finally, those cinephiles who anxiously await the next ground-breaking film of director Christopher Nolan, whose experimental and pioneering methods are quite unique in today’s Hollywood.

Given that I would be laughed out of the first two groups – exposed as less than a neophyte, you may assume that my discussion of this film will not be steeped in scientific or astrophysical theorem. Instead, this will provide my reaction to what has been one of my two most anticipated films of the year (Birdman being the other).

Simply stated, the look of this film is stunning and breath-taking. Its theatrical release comes in many formats, and I chose 70mm. This made for an incredibly rich look with probably the best sound mix I have ever heard. The physical sets were remarkable and as varied as the scene settings: a farm house, a NASA bunker, multiple spacecrafts, and numerous planets. Beyond that, we experienced the effects of blackholes, wormholes and the tesseract. Mr. Nolan’s long time cinematographer and collaborator Wally Pfister was off directing his own film (Transcendence), so the very talented Hoyt Van Hoytema joined the team and contributed sterling camera work, including the first ever handheld IMAX shots. Top this off with Hans Zimmer’s complimentary (though sometimes manipulative) score, and Mr. Nolan has produced a technical marvel of which known adjectives lack justice.

Take note of the exceptional cast led by the reigning Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club), and other Oscar winners and nominees Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, and Ellen Burstyn. Beyond these, we also have David Oyelowo, Wes Bentley, William Devane, Topher Grace, David Gyasi, Collette Wolfe, Timothy Chalamet, and an exceptionally fine performance from Mackenzie Foy (who will forever be remembered as the “Twilight” child of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson).

On the downside, I found myself shocked at some of the dubious and distracting dialogue. At times, the conversations were contradictory and even seemed out of place for the situation, character and movie. In particular, the entire Matt Damon sequence and the Anne Hathaway monologue on “love” both struck me as disjointed and awkward. These and other minor annoyances can’t be discussed here without noting key plot points, so that’s where we will leave it. However, it must be mentioned that the words of Dylan Thomas are so oft repeated, that the phrase “Do not go gently into that good night” can now be officially considered fighting words.

The works of noted Theoretical Physicist Kip Thorne were the inspiration for the story, and even Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has come out in support of much of the science in the film. Be prepared for brain strain on topics such as space-time continuum (Einstein’s Relativity of Time), gravity, and the aforementioned wormholes, blackholes and tesseracts. The blight depicted in the first hour draws its look and even some closed circuit interviews directly from Ken Burns’ documentary The Dust Bowl (2012). Beyond all of the science and lessons of human arrogance and survival, I found the story to be focused on loss … loss of home, loss of loved ones, loss of hope … and balanced by the remarkable human survival instinct. Christopher Nolan deserves much respect for addressing these human emotions and desires with the overwhelming vastness of space, and doing so in a time when Hollywood producers would much rather financially back the next superhero or even a sequel to a 20 year old comedy.

**NOTE: (Could be considered a  SPOILER)  If I were sending a crew into space on a dangerous mission to save the species, and my Plan B was to have this group start a new community on a new planet, I would certainly send more than one female on the mission.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: scientific brain strain is your favorite form of entertainment OR you need proof that Gravity was mere fluff in the realm of space film

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: your idea of time-continuum is hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock

watch the trailer:

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to INTERSTELLAR (2014)

  1. Brandi says:

    I have been anxiously awaiting your Interstellar review! While I consider myself apart of viewing groups 1& 3, it was definitely group 1 which I found was most satisfied after the second viewing…with the exception of the sound mix/score.

    Some of the sound sequences were incredible (one of many being the descent down to Miller’s planet). And Hans’ emotional manipulation with his score was spot-on. I found myself really listening to it the second time around – loving the eerie, but beautiful tones even more. Simple, yet powerful was key here.

    The groundbreaking science surrounding the black hole images were fascinating to see. My group 1 mindset completely “nerded out” during the wormhole and black hole sequences. This is what prompted me to see the movie a second time.

    Couldn’t agree more with you about Anne’s “love” monologue. Very misplaced/weak. (Anne and Casey Affleck had the weakest roles in my opinion). And Matt Damon’s sequence left me frustrated more than anything, although the emotion he portrayed upon being awakened was very powerful.

    *While I’m sure you haven’t read them, the Ender’s Game novels by Orson Scott Card came to mind while watching Interstellar. Cooper’s character was very reminiscent of Ender.

    As always, thanks for your review!

    • Brandi, while I wish I were smart enough to join your Group 1, I feel honored just to know a member! As for the sound issues you experienced, I just finished reading an article about how some theatre settings are “off” causing such problems. I saw it at Look and was blown away by the crisp and full sound – no issues at all. Your enjoyment of the film’s science allows me to feel comfortable in my acceptance of what was happening. On a lighter note, I couldn’t help but chuckle in the first NASA meeting when the men were wearing business suits. I kept thinking, the planet and its inhabitants are choking to death, and you are still wearing Armani?? Thanks for the comment!

      • Brandi says:

        I know! Armani!?!?!? Was Nolan just trying to say that business had to be business as usual for some people??? I couldn’t wrap my head around that one.
        And how about the fact that even though Cooper apparently was the pilot the mission so desperately needed, and he was within driving distance of the NASA bunker, AND Professor Brand knew him, no one reached out to him… ??? Really??? You’ve got a guy that can take down rogue drones with a laptop and a laser beam, but you don’t give him a call???
        So glad there were no sound issues for me. I would have been very disappointed had that happened in my theatre.
        While I’m no astrophysicist, I’ve always enjoyed learning about black holes and how they are a necessity to our universe. Kip did us movie lovers proud by giving us the science…which just happened to look fantastic on screen!

  2. I usually watch sci-fi movies with some reluctance, as I will this one.
    The cast has me more than tempted. If your spoiler is as you say, one woman to repopulate the specie, then I’d be even more reluctant… but I’ll watch it.

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