Movie Review: Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”
November 14, 2014
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The new movie Interstellar opens with a collection of scenes that look as if they’ve been pulled from footage of the 1930’s Dust Bowl – endless cornfields, weathered farmers with pinched faces, and, most prominently, incessant waves of dust. It’s a bit of an unexpected setting for a sci-fi film. However, it is one that perfectly captures the desolation of director Christopher Nolan’s vision of a dystopian future. Now being compared to the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar centers around widowed farmer and former NASA pilot Cooper (played with understated elegance by Matthew McConaughey) and his family, as they desperately struggle to create a brighter future for mankind in their bleak world, which has been run down from overpopulation.
Their battle does not come without its losses, though, as Cooper must sacrifice his relationship with his family when he is again hired by NASA to pilot an expedition to find another planet for humanity to colonize. It is at this point that the movie adopts a more traditional science fiction scene, trading an old Chevy truck for a spaceship and flannel shirts for spacesuits. It is not just the setting that changes, but the entire feeling of the film as well. From the first moment Cooper and his team venture into space, the audience is thrown into a whirlwind journey filled with tension, thrills, and catastrophe. All of this is set to dramatic backdrops of black holes, dazzling galaxies and alien terrain as the exploration team searches for a new planet to call home. The graphics alone are enough to make Interstellar recommendable, planets with waves as big as mountains or completely covered in glaciers are realistic to the point of being terrifying.
Unfortunately, the integrity of the plot gets somewhat lost in the grandiosity of these impressive voyages, as it feels that the focus of Cooper’s mission starts to be put to the side in favor of dramatic effects. And as with most films over three hours long, even the jaw dropping visual effects fail to grasp audiences attention past the two-hour mark.
However, even if Christopher Nolan does not quite manage to keep the storyline as streamlined as it should be, and parts of the film become completely over the top, Interstellar still maintains its underlying brilliance by means of Cooper and his family. The family’s bitter disintegration sets the tone for the film from the beginning, and proves, despite the great challenges that Cooper faces in space, to be the most difficult to overcome. It is this that sets Interstellar apart from other sci-fi films. Nolan highlights the deep intricacies of family relationships and manages to keep those the main focus of the film even in its most intense moments.
Even though it does fall into the sci-fi trap of biting off more than it can chew, Interstellar remains grounded in the well-developed dynamic between its characters and their believable performances.