‘Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.’ Overpopulation and a ferocious blight attacking crops is driving humanity ever closer to extinction. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a farmer like everyone else, but also an ex-NASA pilot and engineer. Their world now resembles the 1930’s Depression era dust bowl, with drab clothing and utilitarian farmhouses. While society regresses technologically, there are a few who realize the salvation of mankind isn’t on Earth but out in the stars. Once again, it’s the ‘NASA saves the day’ cliché, but since I wholeheartedly support the space program, I don’t mind one bit. Interstellar is a rather magnificent combination of incredible cinematography and a lot of cool real scientific stuff, and a story of family and what makes us human. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey, with which there are a lot of parallels, you will most likely love it or hate it. I’m one of the few who fell right in the middle, able to appreciate all the good qualities in director Christopher Nolan‘s work, but still conscious of the stretches in logic and other faults.
Interstellar has undeniably spectacular visual effects, but it is exceedingly long. With a run time of almost three hours, I did find myself checking the clock quite a bit. It’s highly appropriate that the space vessel is called The Endurance, because it’s a trait you will need to get through the overly long and dare I say it, bloated film. The most I can tell you about the plot is it involves a space mission to find other habitable worlds in order to save the human race. Pretty much anything else is a spoiler. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, a walking Rubix cube wise-cracking robot and a few red shirt extras, including Seneca Crane from The Hunger Games (Wes Bentley, unfortunately minus the crazy beard), set out via a convenient wormhole on a quest designed to assault you with dumbed down but valid science, and copious quantities of stunning visual effects. The whole movie is a paradox with most everything eventually tied up in a neat bow, so be prepared for a lot of mind bending stuff as well as some rather ridiculous plot devices (the solution to everything is “solving gravity”? And what was up with that bit resembling that Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace?)
Despite the annoying absurdities, there are quite a few marvelous things about Interstellar that I must acknowledge. The cast is beyond impressive with the aforementioned stars as well as Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck and Topher Grace. The soundtrack is wicked, with a nice use of pipe organ and I especially liked the subtle tick-tock motif used on the water planet to illustrate the urgency of time passing. I might actually forgive composer Hans Zimmer for the Gladiator incident, wherein he failed to give credit to Gustav Holst after blatantly ripping off Mars: The Bringer of War from the collection The Planets. With highly charged emotional content, many tangents regarding high-minded philosophy, quantum science, metaphysics and other conundrums, my personal favorite was a fascinating discussion about the nature of love. You won’t believe the number of plot twists and while the ending might not be the most satisfying, it certainly fits with the outré thematic comportment of the film as a whole. Undeniably idiosyncratic thematically with a lot of just plain weird stuff, but also including deeply personal character studies and some shrewd commentary on a number of subjects, including being good stewards of the Earth. Interstellar doesn’t quite live up to the hype, but definitely has enough going for it to merit a solid three stars. – BETHANY
For more on this slightly bizarre space drama, visit the Internet Movie Database
“We’ve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we’ve just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we’ve barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us.” – Cooper
It’s all about Cooper’s relationship with daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy). Evidently he couldn’t care two pins about his son Tom. (Timothée Chalamet and Casey Affleck, thanks to the dime differential.) “After you kids came along, your mom, she said something to me I never quite understood. She said, “Now, we’re just here to be memories for our kids.” I think now I understand what she meant. Once you’re a parent, you’re the ghost of your children’s future.”
“When I was a kid, it seemed like they made something new every day. Some, gadget or idea, like every day was Christmas. But six billion people, just imagine that. And every last one of them trying to have it all. This world isn’t so bad. You’re the one who doesn’t belong. Born forty years too late, or forty years too early… My daughter knew it, God bless her. And your kids know it. Especially Murph.” – Donald (John Lithgow)
Jessica Chastain works to ‘Solve Gravity’.
The disappointing truth about Miller’s planet. But think of the surfing possibilities! ‘Dude, I went to ride the waves on Miller’s planet for a few months and when I got back, it was, like 10,080 years later!’
The Rubix cube robot TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) rushes in to save the day. “Come on, TARS!”
“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should rave and burn at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Michael Caine (Professor Brand) delivering a poem written by Dylan Thomas.
Anne Hathaway as Dr. Amelia Brand. “Cooper, you were thinking about getting home! I was trying to do the right thing!”
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions and Syncopy (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)