Sunday, December 7, 2014

Interstellar: Time, Space & Love

Can love cross the dimensions of space & time? That’s one of the central questions in director Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014), a thought-provoking science-fiction drama co-written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan. In the near future, Earth’s society is crumbling due to a mysterious blight that’s causing crop failures & making the air unsafe to breathe. Our planet is dying. Cooper, a former NASA pilot, owns a farm that he works & lives on with his son Tom & daughter Murphy. A mysterious “ghost” is haunting Murphy’s room, and she believes it’s trying to communicate with her. The ghost’s messages lead Cooper & Murphy to a secret installation where a project that may save the human race is underway.

A NASA scientist named John Brand (Michael Caine) has already sent three astronauts through a mysterious wormhole to find habitable planets where humanity can relocate. Brand wants Cooper to lead a mission alongside his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) to recover the data from the astronauts, so it can be decided which of the planets can sustain human life. Due to the  length of time it will take to get to the wormhole, travel through it, and back, many years will pass on Earth before the mission’s return. Cooper’s children will be older, and the world he as he knows it may no longer exist. What will the crew find on their journey? Are the original astronauts still alive? Can our heroes return in time to save humanity? Who led us to the wormhole, and why?

Nolan (best known for his trilogy of Batman films starring Christian Bale) is working on a huge canvas here; the movie covers a lot of ground. It’s really nice too see a big budget, non-franchise film of this type. This is a science-fiction tale that never loses sight of the human side of the story, much like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) or Contact (1997). Cooper is racked with guilt over leaving his family behind, but made the decision to save both his family and the human race. The trade off is that he doesn’t get to see his children grow up. Others involved in the mission have made their own difficult choices, and must deal with their own consequences. The story isn’t just about journeys into space…it’s also about love & the journeys of the human heart. As Amelia says during the film “…Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space…”

This is an expansive, well-designed & beautifully filmed (by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema) movie. The effects are fantastic, and you really get the feeling you’re traveling in space and setting foot on other worlds. The cast are all excellent, with Matthew McConaughey doing a great job as Cooper, and Hathaway, Caine and Jessica Chastain (as the grown up Murphy) doing fine work as well. There’s some beautiful music by Hans Zimmer that's a little different than the usual score for this type of film. While the movie is a bit overlong at almost three hours, the story has some neat surprises and developments along the way. You definitely won’t get bored or disinterested. I’ve stayed away from giving a lot of details about the plot so you can enjoy the story as it unfolds.

Interstellar will appeal to science-fiction fans, and those who love a good adventure story with a humanist bent. If you don’t lean towards the sentimental side of the street, this may not be your cup of tea. But if you do (and especially if you’re a parent) I think the film & its story will resonate with you. And if you've enjoyed some of Nolan's non-superhero work, like Inception (2010) & The Prestige (2006), you should like this movie as well. The film is currently finishing up its run in theaters, but I’m sure the home video & streaming release will be announced soon. Highly recommended. Here’s a link to the trailer for the movie:

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