Classic Movie Review: Interstellar (2014)

Posted: November 15, 2014 in Drama
Tags: , ,

Interstellar

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is an engineer by training, relegated to being a farmer because a blight has ravaged the country and the world and farmers are a necessity. Cooper and his daughter Murph (McKenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn) is led by gravitational anomalies, to a secret NASA installation, where a professor named Brand (Michael Caine) is working on a formula that makes interstellar travel possible. The same gravitational anomalies that brought Cooper and Murph to the NASA installation has opened up a wormhole and revealed three habitable planets in a galaxy that is suddenly within reach to a human population who desperately needs it. Are the gravitational anomalies naturally occurring, or is humankind being led by a heretofore undiscovered intelligence? Does Cooper accept the challenge of finding these new worlds and finding one habitable enough to colonize?

There are so many themes explored in Interstellar, that it’s difficult to encapsulate them all here. First and foremost, it’s a character study, about what motivates man. Is it self-preservation, animated by dark motives, or is it selflessness motivated by love of self and others? The choice is up to mankind. The movie also infers environmental issues by visually recalling the Dust Bowl, there are parts of this movie that seem to use snippets of the Ken Burns documentary The Dust Bowl. There are issues of the government conscripting people, limiting their intellectual mobility, and whitewashing scientific accomplishments of the past. Why does NASA have to operate in secret in this society? That fact in itself speaks volumes. Overlaying all of this is the interplay of father and daughter, the sense of betrayal she feels. Betrayal is a huge theme in this movie explored through many characters in many situations. The story unfolds so beautifully and the science fiction elements are so interestingly intertwined in the film, and so thoughtfully explained that it enhances the movie greatly. The robots are humorous and one resembles and ambulatory monolith a tip of the cap to 2001: A Space Odyssey. I did have a problem with the ending, Chris Nolan does try to tie up some loose ends with the ending, but it strains credulity.

The acting is top drawer. McConaughey continues a wonderful string of roles starting with Mud. He gives a nice understated urgency to his role. He leads by example and people are drawn to his leadership. Anne Hathaway turns in another powerhouse performance, with a complex character portrayal of Professor Brand’s daughter, Amelia. She has issues of guilt, that her character has to deal with, not only is she not a damsel in distress, she acts heroically at points in the movie. Jessica Chastain plays another complex character, building on her strong roles in Zero Dark Thirty, Mama and The Debt. In this movie, her character has to overcome abandonment issues and pursue her natural love of science. Matt Damon has a small but interesting role, that is integral to the movie. I love his performance.

The cinematography is amazing, even before the viewer gets to space. The space scenes are really reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are lot of silent scenes, in space and that reminded me of 2001, It’s as visually astonishing as Gravity, and all done without green screen or CGI. The movie is nearly 3 hours, but the pacing is exquisite, I never looked at my watch, once. I just watched the multi- generational space epic unfold before my eyes.

Interstellar:  Shoots for the Stars

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