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Robservations: Interstellar
November 25, 2014

Interstellar: Interbetterthanaverage

I was debating whether or not to write a Robservation on Interstellar because I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. Normally when I write a review I’m either way into the film or cannot stand it, so I’m exploring some new territory much like the main characters in this movie. Man, I’m clever…

Interstellar begins in documentary-like fashion with interviews of old men and women describing how life was filled with dust and shortages of food when they were younger. It then flashes back to that place in time where Matthew McConaughey is an ex-NASA pilot who becomes a farmer so he can help feed what is left of the dwindling population on Earth. It’s not explained why the planet is suffocating itself with dust but we are led to believe it is something caused by us needy, pesky humans. The dust is killing everything. We learn the last field of okra is dying and the only crop still thriving is corn, but it’s unknown how long that will last.

McConaughey plays a widowed father (Cooper) with two children who is helped out by his ornery-but-likable father-in-law, John Lithgow. We find out early on that children are forced to learn how to farm at a young age, only those with exceptional IQs go on to higher education. Cooper’s daughter Murph (named after Murphy’s Law) believes there are ghosts in her room trying to communicate with her through her giant bookshelf. These ghosts end up giving her the location coordinates to a secret underground bunker, where it turns out NASA has been hiding the last several decades. In a world where it’s hard to find food to eat, NASA was considered a worthless expenditure, so the people in charge worked secretly and tirelessly to find a solution to save mankind. The man responsible for running NASA was a professor Cooper had in college played by the brilliant Michael Caine (Professor Brand).

Professor Brand explains that 40 years ago a mysterious wormhole appeared in outer space that led to another galaxy with a sun and planets just like our solar system. 10 different pilots traveled to these planets and have been sending back data for the last several years. The plan is to find a new planet where humans can survive before Earth dies. There are no experienced astronauts left to check on the progress of the 10 previous pilots, but luckily Cooper just happens to stumble into NASA where they desperately need him to man the spacecraft leaving for space the next day…Not wanting to leave his children behind, he reluctantly agrees to try and save the world.

The team that accompanies Cooper into space is Professor Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) and two other scientists (Wes Bently and David Gyasi), as well as a couple of robots that are the film’s only comic relief (naturally I enjoyed the robots a great deal). They are dealt with the impossible tasks of guessing which planets to explore and acting as fast as they possibly can because time is moving much faster on Earth than it is in the new galaxy. For example, on one planet every hour is equal to 7 years on Earth. In a race with time they are forced to find a new home for human civilization, and that is as much of the plot I will give away.

I will watch every film that Christopher Nolan directs because the man knows how to make a movie. He is responsible for Memento, The Prestige, Inception, and of course the most recent Batman series. Not only did he direct all of those films, he was also the main writer. That blows my mind! In a world filled with sequels and the retelling of stories, Nolan has made a completely original film filled with scientific facts coupled with the human emotion of love. Nolan worked with genius physicist, Kip Thorne, to make sure the science was somewhat believable and explained enough for my Bachelor of Arts mind to understand. The imagery is breathtaking and reason enough to see this movie.

Matthew McConaughey is on a very impressive streak and brilliantly delivers again in this film. With Mud, True Detective, The Dallas Buyer’s Club, and a cameo in Wolf of Wall Street, this guy just doesn’t know how to give a bad performance. You can really feel the struggle of him wanting to protect his family and wanting to do what he can to save the human race. He envelops that struggle throughout the entire film. There is an Oscar-worthy scene with him reacting to a correspondence from back home that is truly magical. I can’t imagine anyone else in this role.

Michael Caine, who is a regular in Nolan’s films, also brings the goods. This was not a terribly difficult role for him, but all the same, he was very believable.

The only performance I wasn’t thrilled with was Anne Hathaway’s and I don’t think it was entirely her fault. The parts of the movie I liked least dealt with her character. She plays this brilliant scientist trying to save the world, but Nolan makes her the typical girl who will do anything for love. At one point she even explains “love is the one thing that transcends time and space.” We’re supposed to believe she would ignore all reason and go with her heart while trying to save our species. This was a little too contrived for me, and again, I think that has more to do with the writing than her performance.

This movie had me 100% invested for the first 2 hours and 30 minutes and then kind of lost me in the last 17 minutes. The cinematography is amazing and the music by Hans Zimmer is awesome (at some points it would go from a super loud musical score to complete silence, which was very effective). The biggest complaints I have are some of the convenient plot points we are supposed to overlook, such as the mystical coordinates that Murph is given by her bookshelf that lead them to NASA, and then lead McConaughey to try and save the planet the next day…When arriving at NASA they were questioned about how they found the facility and he explains the supernatural occurrence and NASA was like, “Oh, OK that seems reasonable.” I also didn’t like Hathaway’s character and the ending was a little much for me…With all of that said, this movie is more than worth the price of admission. I saw it at a brand new AMC IMAX theater which I can’t recommend highly enough.

I’ll give it a 3.9 out of 5 stars because I just can’t give it a 4 with all of those complaints. It is an extraordinary movie and I think more people less jaded than I will really enjoy it. Christopher Nolan makes epic movies and Interstellar is absolutely that. Despite the occasional weak plot point, prepare for your mind to be blown!

– Rob

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