Interstellar (2014) Film Review

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Seeing this today reminded me of 1 thing…that Northern Ireland needs more than 1 IMAX theatre.  Seriously, get 1 in Belfast…now…why?  Because IMAX would have been the best choice for this film…and you could have made a lot of money…Yes I’m talking to you cinema-running fat cats who have clearly been foretold in the prophecies to find this page….anyway, onto the film.

As somebody who thought 2001: A Space Odyssey was a beautifully shot, but slow and pretentious pile of filmmaker’s tartar sauce in a hanky; and thought Gravity was more of an excellent experience in the dangers in being an astronaut than a human-story, I can easily say that Interstellar is my favourite of the scientifically accurate, beautifully shot and insanely epic “space movies” (a sub-genre of Sci-Fi movies).

The very basic plot of Interstellar is that of “The Quest” (Or is it the Journey and return?).  Directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception), our film is set in a version of the future where massive dust storms are destroying both crops and peoples’ health, and surviving crops are experiencing blight.  This has caused civilisation to go back to basics.  Where everybody becomes a farmer, and dreams of being anything else are basically shot down, unless you’re a teacher.

One day, a 10 year old girl named Murphy Cooper (played by Mackenzie Foy, 1 of the 5 daughters in The Conjuring) discovers binary coordinations in her room, which she believes have been left by a ghost.  WIth the help of her father, former NASA Pilot, Cooper (we only know him as that, played by possible best actor of 2014, Matthew McConaughey), they track down the coordinates on a map, which lead to a secret base…this base?…NASA…in this future NASA is hiding, and it doesn’t receive taxpayers funding like it used to.  Here Cooper meets Professor Brand (played by Michael Caine), who basically tells him that they plan to find a new planet that can be inhabited by humans in order to save the human race…where is this possible planet?  It’s 1 of 3 possibilities…near a black hole…through a worm hole left by aliens…near Saturn.  Length of time to get to Saturn?  2 years.  But there’s a chance for Cooper save the human race and his family, so he says “I’ll do it”…even if it basically costs him the precious relationship he has with Murphy…a relationship he is unable to mend before he leaves on the most perilous journey of his life….He then gets into a space craft with Professor Brand’s daughter Amelia (played by Anne Hathaway), Romilly (played by David Gyasi), Doyle (played by Wes Bentley, the guy in American Beauty who likes to record floating plastic bags), and TARS the sarcastic robot (voiced by Bill Irwin) …then…to infinity…and oh look a black hole.  What do they find?  Go see for yourself.

Compared to Christopher Nolan’s other directorial work from the last 10 years, Interstellar, overall, is 1 of his much slower and quieter films.  At least during the 1st 2 acts, because it does get pretty noisy by the 3rd act.  Hans Zimmer’s music is nearly unrecognisable in this, as there isn’t a single “bramm”, and at times it comes across as a little more ’80s, which is no bad thing.  When it gets faster it reminds me of some lesser known tracks from Terminator.  In general, the music was more for atmosphere and mood in the scene than for you to buy a CD and sing in the rain to it.  In terms of sound elsewhere, like 2001 & Gravity, since it’s in space, sometimes there is just silence…and it creates a very good balance.

The acting is strong in this 1, and between 2001 and Gravity, it also has the best characters and character-development of all of them.

The cinematography and CGI in this film is…unbelievable.  It’s the only word that can describe it.  It’s visually stunning.  A masterpiece in this area.  Hoyte Van Hoytema’s work has been awesome (which includes Her, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and a really good swedish vampire movie called Let The Right One In).

The story is also excellent, and covers a lot of themes that are quite liable to get skimmed over in films and shows that might tell similar stories.  The relationship that Cooper has with his kids is touched on very well here.  It’s clear that before he left, he was an awesome Dad, and then 1 day he puts this mission before his family and everything changes.  Without saying too much about it, I’ll say this: “Being a Vampire who watches his family grow old without him must really suck”.

Other themes covered include “love, no matter how long”, “the environment”, “the rise and a different fall in technology”, “The most important things in life”, “Time”, “the parallels and layers of time”, and of course, the vision of a future where technology is put in its place rather than replacing humans in any way.  My focus has been on the story rather than the scientific accuracy, so don’t ask me on the science themes of the film.

Is this a film worth recommending?…Yes.  Go see it while it’s still in cinema, because it really is epic on the big screen.  And to go along with that, thankfully, the components that make it into a film rather than a documentary or a show at a planetarium are strong enough to make it enjoyable beyond the pretty visuals.  If this was done as a crudely drawn cartoon, the story and characters are still strong enough to make it entertaining.  Something I felt 2001 missed.  Although, unlike a number of other Nolan films, there wasn’t as much humour this time (outside of TARS the Robot and Cooper himself).  It’s there, and it’s great in the quieter moments, but it’s not as generously inserted as The Dark Knight or Inception.  Still, this is worth seeing, whether you’re there for the story or the visuals.  An incredibly human story about a future that doesn’t ask if machines are going to take over the world.

Overall Rating:  ***** out of 5

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