January 26, 2015 Interstellar (Movie Review)
Interstellar is the latest mind-bending blockbuster from acclaimed director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy 2005-2012, Inception 2010). It is an epic Space Opera which stars Matthew McConaughey (How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days 2003, The Wolf of Wall Street 2013), Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises 2012, Les Miserables 2012), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty 2012, Take Shelter 2011), and Michael Caine (Batman Begins 2005, The Prestige 2006). Nolan’s latest masterpiece explores the various scientific concepts studied by astrophysicist Kip Thorne, such as the Theory of Relativity and the idea of wormholes which are able to bend time and space, thereby allowing explorers to travel from one galaxy to another in a very short amount of time. Nolan’s brilliant direction, the superb acting from each cast member, the breathtaking IMAX sequences, Hans Zimmer’s Oscar-worthy score, and the sheer amount of pure emotion and humanity present throughout the story make Interstellar one of 2014’s defining cinematic experiences.
Interstellar depicts a bleak future in which the Earth is dying and mankind is witnessing its final days. Food is scarce, and dust storms and crop blight are frequent. Cooper (McConaughey) is an ex-NASA pilot who lives on a farm with his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy- The Conjuring 2013), his son Tom (Timothee Chalamet), and his father Donald (John Lithgow- Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2011, Cliffhanger 1993). Murph notices a gravitational disturbance in her room in which books keep falling off her shelf. She believes it to be the work of a ghost, or a poltergeist. Cooper denies that it is a ghost but notices that they are being given coordinates by the entity through gravity and binary codes. The codes lead them to a secret NASA base where a project led by Professor John Brand (Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Hathaway) is underway. Their plan is to enter a wormhole near the edge of the galaxy and discover a potentially habitable world in order to save humanity from extinction. NASA had previously sent astronauts through the wormhole before in what they called “the Lazarus missions,” but none had returned. Three planets were discovered in the process and named after the three explorers who landed on them- Miller, Edmunds, and Mann. Professor Brand chooses Cooper to lead the mission and discover the data left by his predecessors on the three planets in the hopes of finding out which one could sustain human life. He is accompanied on the mission by Amelia, the scientists Doyle (Wes Bentley- American Beauty 1999) and Romilly (David Gyasi- Cloud Atlas 2012), and the robots TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE (voiced by Josh Stewart).
In a deeply heartfelt scene, Cooper promises Murph that he will be coming back, and that when he does, the two of them might even be the same age, since time passes by much more slowly in space than it does on Earth (Relativity). He leaves his sobbing daughter behind and boards the Endurance with his crew. The four astronauts go into hyper-sleep, or a state of suspended animation, for two years. When they awake, they realize that they are nearing the wormhole, which is orbiting Saturn. After entering the wormhole, they must decide which planet they will explore first while considering how much fuel and time they will lose. For example: one hour on Miller’s Planet is equal to seven years on Earth. Twenty-three Earth years have passed, and Murph (Chastain) is now a scientist for NASA who is assisting Professor Brand in attempting to figure out the equation which will help ensure the survival of the human race if her father’s mission is successful. After a shocking twist, Murph begins to wonder if her father will be able to keep his promise at all.
Interstellar ranks among Nolan’s finest achievements and may just go down as his masterpiece. Critics and audiences have come to a point where they go into his films with incredibly high expectations, and like all of Nolan’s best works, Interstellar does not disappoint. Nolan has established himself as a blockbuster auteur throughout the years. Unlike many blockbuster filmmakers, he refuses to shoot films in 3-D. He also prefers to shoot on location and utilizes green screen technology as sparingly as possible. He has a knack for placing an emphasis on miniature and practical effects over CGI. Interstellar excels in all of these technical categories. It goes above and beyond and exceeds the audiences’ expectations.
A fan of Science Fiction films will easily notice some of Nolan’s clever nods to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Nolan effectively pays homage to Kubrick’s classic largely through the film’s visuals (space-docking sequences, spinning space stations) while still maintaining a strong degree of originality and integrity. The final thirty minutes of the film are defined by a mind-boggling twist which the audience does not see coming. It brings the film full circle and adds further humanity to an already overwhelmingly emotional narrative. There is never a dull moment in Interstellar. Nolan is a filmmaker who always gets the most out of his brilliant ensemble casts, and this film is no exception. Combined with Nolan’s outstanding direction and Hans Zimmer’s Earth-shattering score, the cast works almost flawlessly together in order to make Interstellar as much of an emotional experience as a technically outstanding one. Nolan has successfully crafted yet another thought-provoking epic which the viewer will continue to reflect on for days after seeing. CrypticRock gives Interstellar 5 out of 5 stars.