Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) Movie Review
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain
Runtime: 169 minutes
Music: Hans Zimmer
Just came back from my second viewing of Interstellar’s with packed room in IMAX, Hyderabad and let me start by saying this, I cannot understand why this film is getting such mediocre and bad reviews. I honestly was afraid that the movie going to letdown me. I’m happy to inform… It didn’t … because Interstellar, for me, might be Nolan’s best work.
In the last 15 years alone Christopher Nolan has given the world such cinematic gemstones as Memento, The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. Now he goes beyond our world, and even our galaxy, with a highly anticipated Interstellar.
In a not so distant future, we find “Earth” is crumpling because of some kind of environmental parasite called the Blight, that’s the reason we can only grow corn, and the only profession that still matters is Farming. So Coop (McConaughey), who was once an pilot and engineer for NASA, is now a corn farmer, raising his older son Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and younger daughter Murph (as a child by Mackenzie Foy and as an adult by Jessica Chastain). A widower, Coop has a nuanced yet frail relationship with the intelligent Murph, whose brightness is countermined mostly by her short sighted teachers and somewhat by the more logical Tom. But their bod is tested when Coop becomes involved with a ultimate mission to save the Earth, organized by a banned NASA led by an old scientist, Professor Brand (Michael Caine). Thanks to a wormhole that mysteriously appeared near the Jovian planet, 12 scientists have been sent to the other planets to determine whether human life can sustain somewhere else (through Endurance Program).
We’re not meant to save the world; we’re meant to leave it
Only three planets have shown promise, and so Coop must aviate a team of NASA scientists through the wormhole and into that system: Brand’s daughter Amelia (Ana Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romily (David Gyasi) and Robots named TARS and CASE. In the meantime, Coop’s decision to go exasperates and shatters Murph, and that relationship – tincted by anger – bitterness – regrets – fascination – colors the rest of the film.
In the space! Amelia (Anna Hathaway) indicating how she believes something or someone (God/ maybe Alien Engineers) placed a wormhole near Saturn to help the humanity; Coop and the team traveling through it and attempts to visit each promising planet, determines its viability, and eventually return to Earth to save its people, including their own families. Among all that, there is also talk about – Worm holes, Blackholes, morality of man, gravity anamolies, 4 & 5 th dimension, extraterrestrial beings, eerie tranquility of space, nature of love, and gorgeous depictions of our galaxy.
What’s admirable about Interstellar is Nolan’s ability to take audience to visually stunning world’s without giving away character development. Its great to wonder at the spectacle of rushing through the wormhole, but what’s more satisfying is seeing Cooper’s reaction to Murphy – Tom rapidly growing in what only feels like a few weeks. This makes the cinematic journey feel that much cozier and reminds us that this is a story about mankind.
Love transcends time and dimensions
The idea behind Interstellar is enthralling, but not altogether revolutionary in nature. What I found most interesting were the various underlying themes those were both obvious and ubiquitous through the duration of this adventure. In Inception, Nolan plays extensively with the idea of memory, but in Interstellar he firmly tackles the notion of time, and wraps it around the idea of love to create a wonderfully emotional story. I’m not a genius in physics, let’s be clear on that, and there are definitely a few moments when some of the scientific theories soared right over my head. However, Nolan doesn’t let these physics based ideas continue in their confusing trajectory, but circles them back around in ways that will leave you getting the idea. That proves once again that Nolan is on the top of his game.
The movie is technically brilliant, in many ways than one it reflects last year’s Gravity. Where Gravity was 90% computer generated, and Interstellar relied mostly on practical effects, locations, front screen projection, which gives film a intuitive realism that hasn’t been seen in a space film for a very long time, combined with being shot and projected in IMAX 70mm film. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema works wonders again in making the film look spectacular as get sucked into the scintillant, fervid, terrifying wormhole or flying through a cluster of frozen clouds in an ice planet along with the film’s cast. Hans Zimmer’s score was great, I don’t feel it’s his best if I am honest but it worked. It gives the film it’s soul, as well as adding a real operatic quality to the visuals.
We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.
The characters in the film were good. Matthew McConaughey was great. His acting carries this film. He is constantly drawing realistic emotion in unlikely scenarios. He is brilliant and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Anne Hathaway is just as good, showing she’s as strong as ever. Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain were both perfect as Murphy. Foy matched the onscreen magnitude of McCoughey, created a beautiful relationship through some great chemistry. Nolan good luck charm Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, and one un-credited role that seems like a bit of stunt casting but still works well.
However, the big question must be addressed: ‘Does ‘Interstellar’ live up to the hype?’ Despite all my praises so far, that is an extremely tough question. This film is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Trying to describe the damn thing is a task itself. Interstellar is not perfect though. In the climax of the film it feels as the script is stooping on your compassion in an attempt to break them and though I commend Nolan’s effort to keep love and family a central theme of the film I found the over use of Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night” to be kitschy and somewhat uninspired. As McConaughey’s character travels into blackhole, enter singularity and finds himself undead but in a tesseract. In a replica of Murphy’s bedroom, with transfinite timelines of her life. We start wondering what will happen to Coop in this time warped cube that’s somehow linked to earth though millions of light-years away. He is God and a Prisoner at the same time. (There is no clear thought given on the loop) One can’t travel into a black hole without being gamma rayed to ash or stretched like fleshy paratta. Death is certainty, and coop wasn’t given any alien like abilities through out the movie to defy this. At the end, after the cube ordeal, Coop is unbelievingly transported back to Saturn’s proximity, without a spaceship. He is picked up by space patrol before his Oxygen runsout and is sent to earth like habitat, hosting the oddments of the human race, which his daughter builds (thanks to Coop’s otherworldly hints). Cooper should have died or atleast accepted that earth wasn’t possible, as fuel was completed and starship is wrecked. Nolan even failed to clear how can one escape out of black hole, when even light cannot escape out of it. Similarly, The gravity of Miller’s planet was enough to slow down time to one hour on it equals to 7 years on Endurance , then the massive black-hole whose gravity will be so huge that inside it times stops (more the gravity, slower the time), so during the time cooper was going inside it, time on earth will pass say millions of years due to gravitational effects of Black-hole. It also felt to me like Nolan waited too long in the movie to reintroduce Murph’s storyline to the plot. The result is a shift in the narrative that carries through the rest of the movie. There is also the matter of Michael Caine’s performance which I felt was run of the mill and the one thing holding back such great performers like McConaughey, Hathaway and Jessica Chastain who all do fantastic work here. I truly felt that the film lost a bit of its pace during Act 2, but these feelings quickly disseminated as the plot of the film continued.
All in all, for those who were expecting Nolan to deliver The Dark Knight in space, I’m sorry. Instead, he’s disclosed something much more profound. He didn’t make movie for everyone. He made for people interested in string frame theory or the theory of universe. He made it for people who look at night sky and wonder what’s out there. This is a passionate ode to Nolan’s favourite film “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Do yourself a favour and go see it.