Hi everyone, Bryan Here…
It’s obvious with ‘Interstellar‘ that Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ is Christopher Nolan’s favorite film, which is no secret if you’ve seen interviews with the ‘Dark Knight‘ director. Armed with a core plot that all life on Earth will one day soon need to find a new planet to live on to survive, ‘Interstellar‘ dares to define a new meaning to the term science-fiction. This visually stunning movie is a gift to watch on the big screen, particularly in IMAX, and tries so hard to deliver on both the science fiction aspects of space as well as our complex human emotions. With a film that has so much going for it in it’s near three-hour run time, and so many big set pieces and theories, there are things that are bound to stick the landing, and other things that are destined to fall flat.
Where you might ‘Interstellar‘ in the science-fiction category, it doesn’t fall into that “way-out-weird” sub section, where aliens with acid blood run rampant. Instead, Christopher Nolan and his brother and co-writer Jonathan Nolan hired physicist Kip Thorne, who received a hefty executive producer credit for his consulting on all things science and technical on the film. My point is that every bit of space talk and what we would deem science-fiction was completely thought out by actual scientists and physicists to give us the most realistic version of this story. But Nolan tends to center the story on our core human emotions rather than the actual mission at hand, specifically between a father and his daughter. And it’s through this plot device that molds this epic and beautiful film for better and worse.
In an effort not to go the same route as so many other previous directors have gone, Nolan uses a life threatening infestation that is in the form of many big dust storms that are making planet Earth uninhabitable, rather than the usual climate change or global warming. Cooper (and impressive Matthew McConaughey), a former engineer and pilot, knows that something must be done soon, but has since been forced to become a corn farmer since NASA shut down several years ago, due to the economic climate. Cooper’s ten-year old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) share her dad’s love of space and science, which in a funny scene, gets her suspended for believing the Apollo moon landings from the 60s were real. Seems like people in this film think the Apollo missions were staged and filmed on land in order to bankrupt the Russians, a theory some people still have that Kubrick filmed these staged landings.
Cooper and Murph share their farm house with Cooper’s teenage son Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and Donald (John Lithgow), his dead wife’s father. Cooper keeps things lively and obvious loves his kids to no end as they constantly talk about space and science and wonder about the stars in the sky. Luckily, NASA isn’t really defunct now, but has gone secretly underground – literally, and is led by the intelligent Professor Brand (Michael Caine). He is leading an all out effort to send a spaceship to scout for a new home. The direct path to this mission is to go through a wormhole in space near Saturn that will shoot this brave crew to another galaxy, which NASA is getting signals from previous explorers they sent out years ago.
Since Cooper is basically the only person for this job, he takes it, but that means he must leave his two kids, because he doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone. This doesn’t go well, particularly for Murph who Cooper leaves inconsolable and remains an emotional mess for the entire film. This small crew led by Cooper includes Professor Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), a scientist, and amazing astrophysicist Romilly (David Gyasi), Doyle (Wes Bentley), and a very cool looking robot named TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin).
Their trip to Saturn alone wil be two years, but once in another Galaxy, the time is different on Earth where maybe only a few hours to Cooper and his crew would be 23-years on Earth. And now Cooper and his crew must find a suitable planet to continue the human existence. McConaughey does an exceptional job here, pulling at the heart strings several times during the film. He can play the role of the ambitious go-getter and excited kid-like adventurer, and then flip the switch and become a ferocious brilliant leader and then turn it around and sob like a baby when seeing videos of his kids all grown up.
Murph, now in her mid-thirties (Jessica Chastain) is good, but her character is one-note and still never gotten over the fact that her dad left her all those years ago. This is a recurring problem through the film. Anne Hathaway’s character has a little more wiggle room, but not much and plays an annoying scientist who throws a small fit when she doesn’t get her way. David Gyasi is excellent here, but is not given enough screen time to develop, although we all wish he was given the opportunity. But with Murph’s older character, she just can’t move past her her abandonment issues, therefor the story doesn’t progress a whole lot with her, although she is a vital vein to the story.
Hans Zimmer’s score is monumental and always adds to each piece of emotion and suspense in the film. That being said, there were several moments where the impressive score outweighed some important dialogue, which was a little annoying, but just like Kubrick’s ‘2001‘ opus, the space shots were silent with an good partnering score. Christopher Nolan has given ‘Interstellar‘ the opportunity to explore the elaborate human emotions in a science-fiction setting, something I hope to see more of.
While this film could have benefitted from being a tad shorter and tighter, ‘Interstellar‘ still soars high above the rest.
4 out of 5 Stars
– Bryan Kluger