Friday, November 7, 2014

Interstellar Review

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon 
Original Release Date: November 7th, 2014
            Christopher Nolan knows no bounds. He’s created films which are out of order, which contain deep webs of twists and theories, turned Batman into a trilogy of epic dramas, and made dreams cool.  With all these realms conquered it only made since for him to go to the final frontier of space science fiction. Interstellar is Nolan’s first foray into the realm of science fiction, and it can easily be said that the combination is a match made for the stars.
            The world of the film starts incredibly depressing and dark.  At some point in the far future the planet Earth itself is dying. Crops are going extinct and resources are so few that anyone who is not a farmer or has the aptitude for college is viewed as useless. The world has forgotten about technology as its clinging on for its dear life.  Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a former astronaut raising his kids in the dry dusty farmlands of dystopian Midwest America.  Nolan’s attention to detail even in these scenes would make for a fascinating gritty film on its own but it is of course only the barest tip of the iceberg.
            Circumstances soon lead to Cooper being sent on a mission into the depths of space, alien worlds, and even places which are indescribable.  One may infer that they have a full sense of the film from trailers but the way it unfolds is fantastically surprising. Nolan makes us feel as if we are a member of the crew with Cooper and his peers.  That’s the strength of any Christopher Nolan film in that no character is underutilized.  An exceptional cast has been assembled. McConaughey’s Cooper is nuanced, tenacious, and compassionate in his motives.  Anne Hathaway’s Amelia Brand brings intelligence and critique to the mission.  Even less seen crew members Romily (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bentley) get their moments to shine through action and dialogue. Michael Caine, Jessica Chaistain, Casey Affleck, an unexpected Matt Damon, and surprisingly even Topher Grace bring quality to their roles but to say who they are exactly would ruin the surprise.  There’s also the brilliantly sarcastic voiceovers of the cool geometric robots in the starship crew of TARS(Bill Irwin) and CASE(Josh Stewart), and a minor but funny spot by John Lithgow as Cooper’s father in law Donald.
            In fact each character has at least a notable modicum of intelligence as the film requires more cerebral thought of any of Nolan’s prior work. Scientific terms are flown around nearly every few minutes which may overwhelm some viewers but luckily it’s presented for the most part in a way that’s digestible. As mentioned earlier it’s as if the viewer is immersed in this world so whether it be Cooper drawing a diagram or someone explaining a formula it usually makes sense but not always.  Some of the “scientific” elements can become overwhelming at times even then especially near the chaotic end which involves the science of a black hole.
            Immersion and atmosphere are two of the absolute most key words that embody Interstellar.  I had the pleasure to view the movie in IMAX format and I absolutely recommend it.  This is a movie meant to be viewed on a proper massive screen. No matter how one sees it, the vistas of the cosmos and alien worlds that are visited are like actual photographs and paintings come to life.  This is a damn beautiful movie and the amazing thing is that Nolan has managed to make the effect work whether it be at the half hour mark or 2 and a half hour mark (it’s a long and at times slow burner but worth it).   This is complemented by an amazing ethereal score by Hans Zimmer of piping organs and electronics.   There is a power that emanates from Interstellar and after exciting the room after viewing it you will have an ache of excitement over your body since it will have felt like YOU were the one who went to the void and back.  The visuals are of such high quality that it has me questioning if Nolan himself went to space to film this.
            It’s not perfect though but is almost there.  This may be because I am comparing it to Nolan’s astonishingly impressive pedigree, but the story and twists within felt less shocking that in other works by him.  A couple moments which are meant to be massively shocking feel less impactful because of over extensive foreshadowing to them.  If a risk is mentioned as being a possible risk, there is no reason for the character to react in that way when it ends up happening. You’ll know what it means when you see it.  The 85% mark of the film or so is also handheld semi-messily as there is repition of a certain revelation over and over again a few more times than it should have been. It’s a convoluted bit in an otherwise solid dramatic narrative.   There’s also the fact that what’s going on the decaying Earth is much less interesting than what Cooper and crew face in deep space. Switching between the two perspectives brings some jarring moments.
            Overall however Interstellar delivers on the potential a Nolan/sci-fi collaboration promised. His trademark quality production and direction, visual and aural magnificence, and exciting set pieces are all present.  A large and great cast delivers an intense emotional storyline.  It can be a bit much to take in at times, but that’s what the exploration of space is all about. We are specks in a mysterious universe and Interstellar showcases what dangers and wonders that can bring. 9.1 out of 10

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