“This world’s a treasure, but it’s been telling us to leave for a while now.”
Time is such a delicate thing, and in Interstellar, the world doesn’t have much of it left. On future Earth, humanity’s prospects do not look good. The climate doesn’t cooperate, and crops are routinely ravaged by dust storms and other hardships, creating famine. Those with children face the impending reality that their sons and daughters may be the last of their bloodline.
One of the notable men with a family is Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a widower and former NASA test pilot/engineer now making his career as a farmer. Farming is not something Cooper enjoys, but the world needs more farmers with intellect like his, and he is a man who will do anything for his son and daughter (Timothee Chalamet, Mackenzie Foy). After stumbling upon something very secret, Cooper is chosen to lead a band of explorers across the expansive solar system for one mission: Finding a place that can support human life. Only problem is, a habitable planet may not be out there, and it isn’t a guarantee that he may every seen his family again even if he does.
Interstellar is just as much of a spectacle as it is a film. It is grand and very ambitious, and in many ways the closest thing our generation may have to 2001: A Space Odyssey. This doesn’t make it a completely pristine piece of cinema, but it is a damn good piece in totality. A piece that may need to be seen multiple times to fully comprehend and analyze, and one that probably warrants it.
Over the years, director Christopher Nolan has built up quite the sizable fanbase, most often known as “Christopher Nolan fanboys” who seem to live and unabashedly support every action in every movie he has ever done. I don’t consider myself a part of this fanbase. No doubt, the man is very talented and skilled in his craft, but hyperbole often makes more of something or someone than perhaps deserved. Still, almost all of his works are intriguing, and many carry a sense of scale and unique storytelling that other works by other filmmakers do not possess. It doesn’t always come together seamlessly, but more times than not his ideas work, and the man must be commended for trying them.
Interstellar is much of the same in the scale sense, and different at the same time. There are few things bigger than exploring space, because it is so vast when time, gravity, wormholes, and other science concepts are factored in. This future, desolate Earth and expansive galaxy is fully realized in this. It is almost like Mass Effect on the big screen, without alien races. It is very sci-fi focused, and this could truthfully turn off many as much homework sounds like it was done to get things right factually. Regardless, Nolan does a wonderful job of crafting a world rife with permutations and possibilities, and as the explorers set out to find a new place, we are right along with them.
The production here is stellar; cinematography, sound mixing, and score all come together to create a sense of astonishment, unease, and wonder. Not enough can be said about this score, as once again Hans Zimmer proves he is one of the best in the business. Mind you I did not see this in an IMAX format perhaps like I should of, and yet it still blew me away.
Even in all of the movie’s “epicness,” this is one of Nolan’s more basic and truly human movies. It does provoke thought on where we would be headed if for some reason our crops were reduced (really though about how farming is so crucial to my everyday life during this!). Sure, it is about space, exploration and the future of humanity, but at the core, it is about a man and his love for his family. It is an interesting look at how the care we have for our flesh and blood supersedes the care or lack thereof of people we have no real connection to. It is the classic short-term gratification v.s. long term potential. This aspect gives Interstellar the serious heft it needs to get it through an almost three-hour runtime.
Almost is the key word though. While the film is overall engrossing, there are more than a few times in which noticeable drag occurs. Some of the heavy dialogue, always a staple in Nolan films it seems, comes off as being wordy just for wordy’s sake, like taking 20 words to say something that could have been said in 10. Unrelated to the plodding pacing but still an issue is the disjointed area in the semi-climax of this that doesn’t feel tight or well-thought out at all. The narrative structure is pretty solid in totality, but what occurred in this part of the film and how it was presented became hard to follow and temporarily ceased the immersive experience had to that point.
This recent career arc of Matthew McConaughey’s career can probably stop being called a “McConissance” at this point. As Cooper, McConaughey turns in a magnificent performance. Cooper is the type of guy that is stubborn and a bit arrogant, but he is also a deeply caring guy who just wants the best for those he loves and even for his home of Earth. The two desires clash though, and Matthew absolutely sells the internal discomfort of what is at stake. His journey is one that makes you invested on where it is going, and where it will end.
While McC is the undeniable star in this and easily turns in the best character work, his movie daughter played by Mackenzie Foy does a superb acting job as Murph, and is only bested by Matthew. The bond the two build in little time sets up the movie, and is integral to caring where everyone ends up. Foy’s scenes are very emotional, and very impressive for a child to emote so confidently. Filled with such accomplished actors, it is somewhat surprising that only McConaughey’s and Foy’s performances truly stand out. That isn’t to say that Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, or Matt Damon are terrible here, but they have all been better before. They are perfectly able and adept, nothing more or less.
At the end of the day, Interstellar is science fiction done at a very high level, even if it could have been tighter and more compact. Whether in 35mm, 70mm, IMAX, Ultrascreen, or whatever else, give this a view, alright, alright, alright?
Photo credits go to joblo.com, nydailynews.com, and screenrant.com.
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