Movies November 2014 Reviews

NaBloPoMo (11/2014) – Day 19: Interstellar (Review)

I went to see Interstellar last week. We have a theatre in the area that not only has $5 Tuesdays, but their early matinees are also only $5. Even their regularly priced tickets are only $9.50 – so I try to go to that theatre the most. It will come in handy as I strive to watch as many of the Oscar and Golden Globe nominated movies this awards season.

But, I digress.

I chose to take in an early viewing of Interstellar. I’m not a fan of crowded theatres, so the first showing of the day is ideal. I think there were a total of 5 of us watching the movie that morning. I like that. Not a lot of chitter-chatter, everyone has a great seat, there aren’t a lot of people sitting around me so I can put up my feet, fewer people to look at me funny when I laugh at inappropriate times…

So, I hunkered down in the theatre and got ready. I’d heard this was a long movie, so I wanted to make sure I was comfy and ready for it. Of course, it wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t 20-25 minutes of previews, but whatever. I like previews.

InterstellarOverall, I really enjoyed the film and will likely go see it again. I thought it was an interesting, if complex, story. The acting was very good. Not Oscar-worthy, but very good. And I thought the photography/filming was really quite lovely.

First of all, let me say that this is science fiction. It’s not science fact. So, before everyone starts going off and saying stuff like, “that’s not how it works,” or “the science is all wrong…let me draw up this diagram and show you some equations,” let me just say that I don’t really care. I’m not looking for a master class in astrophysics. If I were, I wouldn’t have changed my major and I’d be working for NASA by now.

The storyline is summarized on thusly:

In the near future, Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race. Written by Warren D’Souza

The story was, in my mind, divided into thirds – the set up, the adventure, the resolution. Each part was given it’s due in the film. The first third of the story sets the stage and fully illustrates how dire the situation is. Basically, the human race will be eliminated. Earth will no longer be able to sustain human life. It leads nicely into the second part of the story by explaining what needs to happen to save humanity. And so, the adventure begins as they blast off to the wormhole in hopes of finding a new world. As expected, things don’t quite go as planned and there are a number of rather disastrous events. Of course, those events lead into the last part of the movie where the characters have to be creative and think outside of the multi-dimensional box.

The story itself was filled with “real” science and “imagined” science…peppered with healthy doses of humanity and faith. The real and imagine science were blended quite well. In some cases, the differences were very obvious (“I remember that from physics class” vs “Well, that’s different!”). In other cases, it was difficult to tell whether or not something like that could really happen. It was quite creative. The science (whether real or not) was explained throughout the movie in such a way that I never felt like I needed that Astronomy/Physics degree to keep up. At the same time, I didn’t feel like I was in a lecture. It was just the right mix. But, throughout, there was also a strong sense of faith. Not faith in a particular deity – but faith in each other, in humanity. In many cases, this faith was tested severely. But it was a nice balance to the science.

I really like the cast for this movie. Matthew McConaughey isn’t necessarily a favorite actor, but I’ve always enjoyed his work. He plays the  super-intelligent good ol’ boy so well here. McConaughey always seems to have that ‘down home’ charm in most of his movies. He’s a likable guy. That remains true in Interstellar. But more than that, he’s very believable as a brilliant scientist. Anne Hathaway is another that I wouldn’t classify as a favorite, but I like her work. Though, I do admit, she’s had a lot of roles in the past that come off as annoying. Not so in Interstellar. She’s much more understated and subtle. It’s no secret how I feel about Jessica Chastain. I think the woman is amazing. Her role in this film is definitely a supporting role, but she really dives into it and gives a great performance. All of the actors fit with the balance of science, humanity, and faith. Each has his or her own reasons for taking on this challenge. Each has his or her faith challenged in some way. And each reconciles these challenges to science and faith in his or her own way – for the good of humanity.

The filming was, in my opinion, beautifully done. I really thought the visual effects in Gravity were spectacular – and they were! But there is something about Interstellar that sort of blows Gravity out of the water for me. There are so many settings in the movie and each is done with great detail. It really looked like the Earth was dying – it was appropriately bleak and desolate. The various settings for space – the wormhole, other worlds, other dimensions etc. – were creative and visually interesting. Whether routed in scientific fact or not, the visual effects were believable. In general, I was never bored with what I was seeing on the screen.

I do recommend this film. If for no other reason, than to see Chastain hit various levels of emotion and, once again, pull at some heartstrings. But more than that, it’s an interesting story told in an interesting way. Do make sure you’re prepared to spend 3 hours in the theatre, though. I would vote against buying the super-huge drink to go with your popcorn.

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