Movie Review: Interstellar

Interstellar (2014)
169 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine

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Grade: A-

Chris Nolan has directed some challenging, mind-bending films before but never was one so ambitious as Interstellar. His lengthiest film to date deals with a whole lot of the unknown: fifth dimensions, alternate galaxies, time traveling, space theories and formulas, etc. One thing that I give Nolan credit for is that he doesn’t attempt to dumb down any of the material that likely will be too confusing to grasp after only a single viewing. Is Interstellar perfect? No, far from it. But it’s fascinating on so many levels that you just have to marvel at it.

Set in the future, Cooper (McConaughey) stumbles upon a NASA station and is convinced to pilot a spacecraft into space to explore planets in a new galaxy that could possibly inhabit humans to save mankind. The current Earth is in bad shape due to “blight,” which has made agriculture obsolete except for corn. Experts such as Professor Brand (Caine) suggest that there are only a few decades left for humans to stay on Earth before all of their resources run out. Cooper leaves behind his loving family of his daughter Murph, son Tom, and father-in-law Donald to try and save the human race, and more importantly his loved ones.

While it takes a while for Interstellar to set up the plot, what happens after will continually keep you in awe. Whether it’s the visuals of traveling through a wormhole or the sight of a tidal wave so tall it’s mistaken for mountains, the special efforts are stunning. But one element of the film (and a theme that Nolan is obsessed with) that must be mentioned is how time is bent after Cooper and his crew travel through the wormhole. I’ll try my best to explain this essential part of the movie.

The time on Earth moves faster than the other side of the wormhole that Cooper explores. There is also a black hole called Gargantua that slows time down even more based on how close you are to it. So for every hour Cooper spent on the first planet they researched, seven years will have passed on Earth. If that doesn’t get your brain going then I don’t know what will. This reminds me of the time element in Inception, how every layer that you dive deeper into dream land happens within moments of the outer layers. This is something that Cooper is specifically concerned about since he has every intention to keep his promise to Murph to come back home to Earth. But if he stays on that planet for too long, he could easily out-live her within several hours.

There are plenty of twists and turns that Nolan takes us on during his sci-fi space epic, but not all of them will be met with the same reaction. It’s already becoming clear that Interstellar is quite the polarizing film. Some people will love it and feel the third act is brilliant, while others will feel cheated, or confused, or frustrated at its tidiness through time-traveling loopholes and theories. Whatever the case, you’ll certainly need a good amount of patience to sit through this film.

One thing I found intriguing about Interstellar is its lack of a true antagonist. There are people who do questionable and bad things throughout, but none can really be considered an antagonist. Usually, these type of films focus in on the depth of the characters and depend on feelings instead of plot, but Interstellar’s heaviest aspect is its thick, layered plot. But I cannot say that there is a lack of human emotion during the film because of the connection that Matthew McConaughey expresses with his family. The scene when he’s watching the series of recordings his family has left him while he’s gone is truly heart-breaking and McConaughey does an excellent job at selling it. Every character has something at stake, and even the ones you thought had nothing to lose really might have the least to gain.

While I won’t spoil the movie’s conclusion, I’ll say that to me it was quite a stretch to comprehend. I didn’t dislike the ending, but at the same time it lacked the great conclusions of Nolan’s past such as Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception. Here, we’re challenged to accept the slightly far fetched ending of Interstellar, but for those who can accept it will be rewarded with a very satisfying end to one hell of a ride. Interstellar has the feel of a roller-coaster: those who love it will definitely be eager to revisit it as many times as they can, as soon as possible. But those who don’t will likely never want to go through the experience ever again. Where do you stand?

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One Response to Movie Review: Interstellar

  1. Isn’t Dr Mann the true antagonist?

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