(M) Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
“Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas
Drought and famine plague the world of Interstellar. Wars have ceased, but the fight for the basic essentials of life hangs in the balance. With a blight threatening food supplies and rolling dust storms causing a dirt-filled existence, farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is trying to help his family and their community to survive. Cooper also is a former pilot, an engineer and a recent widow. His daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) comes upon a strange anomaly that leads Cooper being asked to sacrifice his time on earth — by going through a wormhole, in search of a new home for humanity.
With a team of scientists led by Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), Cooper blasts off in the spacecraft Endurance. Reminiscent of the historical accounts of early explorers of this world, they have to revert to their instincts and knowledge to determine which steps to take and what sacrifices to make for the salvation of mankind.
There are some big stars in this film, but none can overshadow the spectacle that is director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception). He calls epic Interstellar “an ode to human spaceflight.” Nolan leans heavily on the psychological drama, and his latest blockbuster would have to be most closely related to to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Gravity.
Interstellar seems to be a great fit for Nolan’s intellectual style of direction and writing. Themes ripped from today’s headlines and current scientific theory make for a fascinating mix of physics and science fiction. However, Interstellar seems too clever for its own good. No doubt, it will be studied by many a film student in the future, but Interstellar suffers from information overload — despite it being almost three-hours long (for example, tying off the loose ends adds unnecessarily to an already lengthy film).
Like the film’s humorous MARS and CASE robot characters, the scientific components of the story feel clunky and too dense to move the story along effectively. While the special effects are amazing and the cinematography is breathtaking at times, this is not enough to move a good film to being a great film.
Nolan wrote Interstellar with his brother Jonathan, and they try to convey a belief that mankind is the keeper of its own fate. But, ultimately, the brothers Nolan are unable to answer the key question raised by Interstellar: “If humanity its own worst enemy, how can it also be the solution to this problem?”
Other deep questions are raised and the Nolans head down an inviting path, by looking beyond ourselves. The inclusion of these unexplained characters allows the scientists to look for supernatural answers. Without giving too much away, their conclusion becomes an internal answer with eternal implications.
Is this a psychological thriller or a groundbreaking science-fiction epic? I was left scratching my head. I love a film that challenges the brain as well as entertains, but Interstellar left me confused. After seeing Inception for the first time, I was ready to go straight back in the cinema and watch it again. Interstellar is a different proposition, I am not sure I could handle the mental gymnastics of this film again. There was a good film amid all the science and philosophy, but it was not as entertaining as it could have been.
If you liked 2001: A Space Odyssey, you will love this film, but if you preferred Batman Begins, this is the film for you.
What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?
- What is the problem with the human condition? (Genesis 3, Matthew 15:19, Psalm 51:5)
- What is the solution to the problem? (John 3:16-21)
- Who made the heavens? (Genesis 1:1-2:3, Exodus 31:13,17)
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