Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Interstellar: A Second Look

A month ago, I attended the midnight showing of Interstellar with high expectations and came away with mixed feelings.  Nevertheless, the film stuck with me.  Therefore, I gave it another chance.  I'm glad I did.

Maybe having a blueprint of the plot in my head made it easier to process everything. Some movies are like that.
My God, It's Full of Stars!

Knowledge is highly valued in Interstellar.  Knowledge could save us all someday.  The first shot pans over Cooper's awesome library.  The room plays a pivotal role in the story.
Were all these books put here for a reason?  Stephen King's The Stand appears in several shots. Infinite Jest also caught my eye.

Reviewers tend to nitpick, in particular the frequent references to the Dylan Thomas poem, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night." What's the problem?  It's a great poem and an eloquent expression of the themes in the film.

In my initial review I compared Interstellar unfavorably to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I'll backtrack.  Both are great films.  Nolan puts humanity, instead of technology at the forefront.  Kubrick saw technology as a dehumanizing force, while Nolan's envisioned a more harmonious relationship. That's a refreshing take.

Chris Nolan and  Matthew McConaughey on the set of Interstellar.

The robot almost steals the movie! Like R2-D2 and CP-3PO in Star Wars, TARPS added some much needed comic relief.


In interviews, Nolan has cited The Right Stuff as an inspiration. He reportedly had the entire cast screen the film during pre-production.  Based on Tom Wolfe's book on the Mercury 7 astronauts, The Right Stuff successfully blended satire with the historical epic. McConaughey channels Chuck Yeager.  The movie opens with an all too brief flashback of Cooper reliving a horrific plane crash,  an excellent homage to Yeager's climatic flight in The Right Stuff.
Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.

Kip Thorne, an eminent physicist, acted as executive producer and script consultant, which provided some real credibility for the story. Interstellar explores various scientific ideas, ideas mainstream movies rarely take serious such as deep space travel, black holes, and Einstein's theory of relativity. Nolan placed ideas before special effects, a commendable decision.

Dr. Thorne explains quantum theory to Jessica Chastain.

Nolan's often criticized for not writing compelling female characters. Anne Hathaway plays Dr. Brand, the lead scientist on the mission.  Hathaway brought a strength and intelligence to her character.  She matched McConaughey scene for scene.

Anne Hathaway as Brand.

Michael Caine is on hand to provide the exposition (he explains stuff). No one does it better.

Professor Brand

Hans Zimmer's soundtrack adds a majesty to Interstellar.  A subtle pipe organ adds a mystical element, very much in the style of the John Williams score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Check out the Soundtrack!

The most mind blowing moment in the film belongs to David Gyasi, who plays Romily, a scientist left behind on the ship when Cooper and the crew investigate a planet.  For each hour they spend on the planet, 7 years pass on the spaceship.  When a mishap extends their stay to three hours, they return to find poor Romily has aged 23 years!  That's a movie in itself!

Only three hours passed for Cooper (McConaughey); 23 years for Romily (Gyasi).
Finally, Interstellar achieves moments of genuine emotion.  My favorite moment occurs after Cooper's says goodbye to his daughter Murphy.  In an earlier scene, she sneaked onto his truck when he went in search of the secret NASA base.  After their difficult farewell, he checks the blanket she once hid under and she's not there.  A heartbreaking moment, but you have to pay close attention to catch it.

A Sad Goodbye

Interstellar will be remembered as a classic.

Life in multiple dimensions.  Still trying to get my head around this concept!

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