Wednesday, December 17, 2014

INTERSTELLAR: FILM REVIEW

Interstellar (2014)
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Genre: SCI-FI/ADVENTURE
Rated: PG-13
Time: 169 min
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, and Wes Bentley
Plot: In the near future, Earth is no longer sustainable for human life. Facing extinction, an ex-NASA pilot must leave his family and his home to explore a wormhole and find humanity a new home among the stars.

Comments: There is one thing that I have grown to expect out of Christopher Nolan’s films: great visuals and a great conversation once the film is done. I was a little hesitant in seeing this film though as everyone was comparing it to Gravity and I did not enjoy that film at all. But each trailer I saw got me excited. And so for movie week (3 so far) I went to go and see it with my dad. I won’t give away the story as that is part of the journey, but there were many unexpected surprises as I went in pretty spoiler free. The trailers didn’t give away the entire film, so I knew the basic premise but not much more than that. I am glad I went in that way.

Interstellar begins slow setting up the premise of why the need to go to space is necessary and develop the characters and their motives. Coop (Matthew McConaughey) was once a pilot and an engineer, but is now a farmer. Crops are okay for now, but year after year more and more begin to fail and the dust storms get worse. During one of these storms Coop and his daughter Murphy see a pattern in the dust on her bedroom floor and Coop realizes it is binary code giving them map coordinates. From here, everything changes. The NASA program is not dead, as previously thought. Three manned expeditions have already been sent through a wormhole to explore and find another home for humanity. All that is left is to retrieve that data and determine which planet, if any, is mankind’s next home.

The acting is superb on every level and truly is one of its strengths. From John Lithgow as Coop’s father in law to Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway). Standouts for me were a grownup Tom, played by Casey Affleck and each of the actresses who play Murph during different parts of her life. Mackenzie Foy is a wonderful little actress and I look forward to seeing her in more things. Hell even the voice acting for the robots TARS and CASE not only provide some great humor in the film, but seem to be spot on.

While character development is not as strong as it could be, what was there mostly worked for me. It is so hard to truly understand a character’s motivations through small snippets of video but the fundamentals were there. I felt for Murph, both as a child and an adult woman who feels abandoned and bitter but still wants to hope. I understood Amelia and Coop. However, as great as the performances were I never really felt worried for them, not like I should have been. Sure, there was a sense of urgency, but I didn’t always authentically feel the stakes of the situations. But I will get to that in a moment.

I absolutely loved the score, but then I usually do enjoy Hans Zimmer’s scoring. Usually you don’t want to notice the score, but Zimmer did a wonderful job of accenting key moments and enhancing scenes rather than detracting from them.

I absolutely loved the score, but then I usually do enjoy Hans Zimmer’s scoring. Usually you don’t want to notice the score, but Zimmer did a wonderful job of accenting key moments and enhancing scenes rather than detracting from them.

The film is absolutely gorgeous from the simplicity of a corn field to the outreaches of space. Blackholes, Wormholes, and far distant planets were amazing. I wish I had been able to see it at an IMAX, though the theatre screen was just fine. The special effects were not distracting nor did I notice any really horrible CGI. I really enjoyed the way that TARS looked as well, how he moved and functioned. It was a nice touch. I liked the way that the spacecraft looked, the movability of the cockpit, and how bright it was (I hate it when spaceship interiors are dark). I know this seems like a silly thing, but it is something I notice.

The science in this science fiction story seemed plausible to me, save for the whole blackhole bit. At least more plausible than fire extinguishers in space. Perhaps others would cringe at the pseudo-science in the film, but I could suspend my disbelief when it came to space travel, time working differently, and wormholes. However, I am neither a theoretical physicist nor expert on Einstein theorems and gravitational physics. I did hear that Kip Thorne was the science consultant for the film and Neil Degrasse Tyson did not have too many gripes about the film.

But here is the part I didn’t like about Interstellar. I love the themes of humanity, morality, and the need to protect your loved ones and humanity as a whole. Love is a powerful thing, but movies who are heavy handed with the subject make me grumbly (What Dreams May Come). I had a hard time reconciling the rest of the plot full of science, exploration, and discovery…with love. Suddenly everything was saccharine and I was being forced to feel a specific emotion when the majority of the film did a really good job of balancing on that fine line between showing and telling. Trust me the love factor works for me in other films, but I had a really hard time with the last quarter of the film. It seemed out of place with everything else. I was taken out of the film which is disappointing because I was immersed for the majority of it. Maybe it was because the ending felt rushed and forced.

I still loved the film, mind you, but those are my grumbles. Still, Interstellar is a far better film than most and in my top ten for this year.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. Imax if you are lucky.

4/4 popcorns

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