Friday, November 14, 2014

Interstellar--2014: A Space Odyssey

     Christopher Nolan began his career with a couple of low budget films that were noticeable in their skillful direction and unique story-telling devices: the good Following and the modern classic Memento. Then, as we all know, he branched out into super-hero territory with the new Batman trilogy, making most every other superhero quiver in the darkness and realism of the new and dangerous Gotham. Between the second and third Dark Knight films, Nolan created Inception, a complete and utter mindfuck about dreams, the subconscious, and futuristic espionage. It was filled with hokey dialogue and sometimes-absurd plots twists: and I absolutely loved it. It was one of the best science-fictiony movies in years. In fact, there's never been a Nolan film that wasn't completely transfixing. He's not the best at dialogue and has a tendency to turn towards corniness in emotional moments, but his films are novelistic rides that are nothing if not entertaining. That's what movies are for (escapism), and Nolan's Interstellar is--yet again--no different: it's corny and laughable at certain moments, but it's a damn amusement park ride into the unknown, and I enjoyed every second of it.
    Interstellar takes place in the near future as Earth is beginning to show signs of being done with the human race: vicious dust storms run rampant and food crops are slowly starting to die off. Farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former pilot and engineer, is trying to sustain his family, most notably his daughter, Murph, who is whip-smart and curious about science like her dear old dad. Weird anomalies begin to happen around the Cooper household, and a sequence of events better left unexpected cause Cooper to be Earth's last great hope to find a distant planet that can sustain a surviving population of humans.
     Interstellar is full of scientific and space travel jargon about worm-holes, the space/time continuum, black holes and 5th dimensions. It even has that standard sci-fi discussion involving folding a piece of paper to explain space travel through worm-holes. And I couldn't tell you if any of the plot points are based in fact or fiction (many of them, according to Neil DeGrasse Tyson, are mostly based in truth). But the thing with Interstellar and most sci-fi space-based epics, is that being preposterous can sometimes be a virtue: letting go with reality and suspending your disbelief just gets you invested in the ride even more. If you do that with Interstellar, there's no way you're not entertained.
     Nolan has a knack for setting up big sequences that have a tendency to make your jaw drop, and Interstellar is no different: like in Inception and each of the Batman films, he sets up a couple of scenes that can leave your breathless. And unlike Inception, this new Nolan film actually has a more human emotion that is much easier to relate to. A lot of this has to do with Matthew McConaughey's performance: this dude has been knocking it out of the park lately (namely in Mud, Dallas Buyer's Club, and HBO's epic True Detective), and the nearly 3 hour run time of Interstellar gives him plenty of room to run the gambit of emotions.
     Yeah, it's easy to snicker at some of the plot jumps in Interstellar. Especially during the first third of the film, a couple of coincidences and unexplained happenings bugged me a little bit. But knowing Nolan, I should have assumed that things will connect in the end--and they did in a completely unexpected way. And yeah, some of the dialogue feels hokey and forced, trying to incite an emotional response (particularly with a certain poem) in the viewer. But it didn't matter: Interstellar is an entertaining film filled with massive ideas about the future of the human race, parenthood, love, and human nature. It has space action that rivals Gravity and intimate moments that can bring tears to your eyes. Above all, it's a great success in a year that's almost completely devoid of anything to get excited about.     (A-)

No comments:

Post a Comment