ShowbizNoFLO Film Review: INTERSTELLAR
As the 2014 movie season comes to a close, Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ stands to be counted as one of the most unique November releases in recent years. Grossing $148 million domestically and $544 million worldwide in just a month’s time, the Nolan brothers’ science-fiction thrill-ride has audiences captivated by stunning visuals, unpredictable action, a deeply emotional story, and powerful themes that will have us looking up at the stars and wondering about our place in the universe.
The film begins in the distant future where agricultural blight has turned the planet Earth against the human race. The only available food source than can be grown any longer is corn, and nearly all technology has been grounded as the world desperately tries to survive suffocating from enormous dust storms and starving to death from poor crop seasons. The story is centered on Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his family, consisting of his young daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy), his son Tom (Timothée Chalamet), and his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow). They are a family of farmers trying to grow corn, but with every passing year, they lose more crops to the blight.
Meanwhile, Murphy has been observing a strange phenomenon in her room where books mysteriously seemed as if they are being pushed off her shelf, which leads her to believe there is a ghost. Cooper, a former pilot and engineer for NASA, refutes the idea of a ghost on a scientific level and insists that she needs proof to validate the existence of the ghost. The two find a very strange pattern in the dust on her floor and figure out that the pattern is in fact coordinates of latitude and longitude. They take a road trip into the mountains and come across a strange facility where they meet Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), the daughter of Professor Brand (Michael Caine), and what remains of the NASA organization. After the blight, NASA was downsized and went underground to avoid the American tax payers’ knowledge that they were using their money to continue to build spaceships for interstellar travel to find a new planet.
Professor Brand explains that there is a blackhole near Saturn that is a gateway to a new solar system with hospitable planets, and that they were just about to lead a new expedition to see if the other expeditions that successfully passed through the blackhole found planets that can support life. Professor Brand begs Cooper to be their pilot and join the team in order to find a new world and move the remaining people on the planet to a new home before they succumb to starvation or suffocation from the growing dust storms. Cooper is torn, but ultimately decides to go, bidding a tearful goodbye to his daughter and leaving for the mission.
From there, the film takes off into a vast exploration of dozens of concepts, from artificial intelligence to time dilation to the theory of relativity to possible fifth dimensional beings. The Nolan brothers knew what they were doing thanks to the help of Dr. Kip Thorne—a theoretical physicist who helped develop the script and stayed on set as their scientific advisor. Thus, all of the space travel that we see during the film is grounded in the most accurate and recent theories of science. The attention to detail is simply astounding, and one of the things that Christopher Nolan is known for when directing his films.
The visuals of ‘Interstellar’ are by far the biggest selling point. We are treated to some of the most brilliant sights and all set to a beautiful soundtrack composed by the ridiculously talented Hans Zimmer. Unlike some films that boast great visuals to cover up a bad story, ‘Interstellar’ uses the alien environments of the planets that the team visits to recover data for future inhabitation to draw us further into the trials and tribulations they go through.
Furthermore, the crew itself is chockfull of fantastic characters. Cooper is desperate to find evidence of sustainable life on the three planets that they have enough fuel and time to reach and get home to his children, but Murphy’s Law is in full effect out there in the darkness: “whatever can happen, will happen.” He and the crew are put through several devastating setbacks and every second literally counts as it is years to the people down on earth. McConaughey puts his best foot forward as Cooper, who is motivated by the need for survival and the need to create a better future for his children, even at the cost of himself. After years of sub-par films, he seems to have finally found the right pitch in his acting where he is compelling and easy to root for
While everyone in the film gives incredible performances, the standout character by far is Murphy, both as a ten-year-old and later when years have passed due to the relativity of time and she is an adult (played by Jessica Chastain) working with Professor Brand to find an equation that will allow them to launch a space station into orbit and later travel to a new home. She is so driven to find the answer to the equation, and yet there is a deep bitterness tearing at her because her father left. Chastain digs deep and finds the perfect balance of intelligence, sorrow, fury, and determination, and the payoff to her pain is definitely worth it.
The only noticeable flaw for the film is in the controversial ending, which I wouldn’t dare reveal because it is too worth it and has to be seen to be appreciated. While it fits thematically, it does require a large dollop of ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’ to stomach because there are so many science-fiction theories flying about that cause the climax. Nolan’s particular style of filmmaking is one that encourages viewers to think about what they’ve seen long after the movie has ended, and he has certainly done it again with this film. However, it will definitely go over certain people’s heads if they are unfamiliar with the genre and the mind-bending things that tend to happen in situations where time, space, and gravity have been bent.
Overall, ‘Interstellar’ is an exceptional film that will last for years because of the excellent cast, the superb effects, the nail-biting action, and its fully developed characters. It will still be in theaters for a couple more months, so I highly recommend that you see it on the big screen.
Overall Grade: A-