{Reel Reviews} Interstellar Film Review: The McConaissance Goes to Space

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Tweetable Takeaway: Interstellar is a wild ride through both space and emotions.


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, Contributor

is the newest movie by Christopher Nolan.  The movie stars Matthew McConaughey as ex-pilot Cooper now working as a farmer on Earth.  We learn the entire race of humans doesn’t have much time left as an asteroid is barreling its way straight toward the planet, and Cooper is the only one who can save us.  Wait, is that right?

Alright, well Earth is dying, people are running out of food, and it is indeed up to McConaughey’s character to save all of humanity.  No asteroid, instead Cooper with three other people (among them, Anne Hathaway as Brand), and a couple sarcastic robots take a rocket to a wormhole placed by some unknown and ominous they right by Saturn that will take them to another galaxy with several viable planets.  Michael Caine (are you surprised to see him here?  This is a Nolan film after all) spearheads this mission and tells McConaughey there are two plans.  Plan A is that the crew finds a viable planet, relays the information, and a whole bunch of people from Earth come flying up to this new planet to make it home.  If that doesn’t work out, Plan B is Cooper’s crew has a bunch of frozen zygotes and will grow humans from scratch.  Just make sure to use baking powder, and not baking soda.  Common mistake.

Right off the bat, the stakes are high.  There have been countless that place the entire race of humans on the brink of extinction, either through supervillains, aforementioned asteroids, or any number of other destructive measures.  Interstellar takes a more measured, and thoughtful manner in laying out the need for the mission’s success.  It’s no less pressing, but it takes its time and feels weightier than in other .  The tension laid out in these stakes is a noose that slowly tightens as the movie progresses and things just keep going wrong.

The plot’s simplicity is one of the shining points of the movie.  There is a focused objective (save humanity) and a clear mission (find a new planet).  Characters are given choices, and they are hard choices.  Cooper has to abandon his daughter to save mankind.  Cooper’s crew has to decide which planet to try and land on, and none are obvious choices.  The fun really comes when everything that can go wrong, does.  The crew is continuously set back, whether it’s on a planet that every hour means seven years has passed back on Earth, or fuel running low, or nearly being left on desolate planets with no chance of survival.  Nolan knows how to crank the tension up to a near unbearable level, and if you can watch a ship carrying what may be the last of the human race about to crash and not gnaw your fingernails into a blackhole, I applaud you.

More time is spent on the emotional connection than in previous Nolan films, and the movie is light years better for it.  In particular, Cooper and his daughter Murph (young version played by Mackenzie Foy and older by Jessica Chastain) have a bond that makes the mission both on Earth and in space that much more heartbreaking.  The grand scheme is for Cooper to save humanity, and Cooper knows that, but at its heart it’s just a movie about a guy wanting to see his daughter again, and that transcends all the space travel and alien planets.  We can all connect with the hard goodbye, but the distance that covers this goodbye is billions of miles farther than any we’ve experienced.  This emotional heart of the film is what’s key, because the conclusion is a divisive one.  Some will call it too convenient, and it most certainly is.  Add in a pinch of paradox and a scoop of stretch of imagination, and you’ve got yourself what could be a finale that falls flat on its face.  But the heart of the movie keeps beating, and I can totally buy into the ending..  There’s no tease as there was in Inception where one wonders if Leo reuniting with his kids is even real or another dream, and for that alone moviegoers should be grateful.

There is a moment where the emotional heights aren’t quite reached, and that is when Hathaway’s character begins expounding on love being something like the 15th dimension, or that it is just like gravity only stronger, or that it’s actually really scientific, or something like that.  Here is where the movie lost me for a bit, and it hurts all the more because I knew exactly where Nolan was trying to go with it, but either through Hathaway’s delivery, or the moment the dialogue was delivered, or the word choice, or most likely, a combination of all three, the moment just didn’t pull through.

With its hefty emotional punches, spectacular special effects, and tense moments Interstellar is easily recommended.  It’s a wild ride for any moviegoer, and especially ones who love science fiction (the film brings to mind novels like Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, the robots of the movie evoke the monolith of 2001).  Go and see Interstellar, just remember to pack some space peanuts.  I give it 4 sarcastic robots out 5.

Score:  4 out of 5

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Wil lives, breathes, and loves . On applications he will often list the movie theater as his second residence, and the usher as his emergency contact.
Twitter: @bilDoper

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