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"Interstellar" is Truly Out of This World
by Christopher Cruz
I’m game for anything McConauhottie, amirite? As soon as I saw the previews for Interstellar, I tried to eschew anything that might hint at how good or bad the movie would be. Sometimes, people play movies up so much that my expectations end up too high when I actually watch them. But I finally saw Interstellar. Here are a couple things that I took away from the film.
The movie begins in an agrarian setting, with Matthew McConaughey as a farmer in a world where food is getting scarce, and the atmosphere is becoming increasingly unlivable because of dust in the air. If you didn’t see some of the modern features, you might think you were watching a film adaptation of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Don’t worry. I haven’t given anything away. This is all information you see in the trailer.
Sometimes, the scene sequence can seem a little bit quick. One moment Cooper (McConaughey) is a farmer, and the next, he's a NASA pilot trying to save the world. I get it; the movie is already almost three hours long, and you can’t neatly fit everything in the sequences. But still—the pace throughout the movie is incredibly fast. There is so much that director Christopher Nolan tries to pack in the movie that it isn’t as clean as you might like it. But I suppose that's the irony when you’re dealing with themes such as time and going through black holes and such.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about McConaughey. Go watch True Detective or Dallas Buyers Club or Failure to Launch. Does McConaughey ever freak out? He always knows what to do! For once, I’d like to see if he just lets go of the steering wheel and has a complete meltdown. Wesley Morris at Grantland pointed this out, and it made sense. Not really anything bad about the movie, just thought it was worth pointing out.
Now to the good stuff.
The movie tearfully displays the relationship between Cooper and his children, daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain) and son Tom (Casey Affleck). As Cooper goes on his mission to look for a home for the human race, he leaves his children, particularly Murph, on bad terms. During the time he remains in space and visits the prospective planets that human beings might inhabit, time passes, but with the kind of relativity that we don’t know or understand. Time isn’t linear—it bends—leaving Cooper and co-pilot Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) to lose years of Earth time, even though it’s only a matter of hours in space time. Trippy, right? While you’re left to pick up the pieces of your brain that exploded amongst the timespeak, you also have to figure out what to do with your heart.
In the process of time that has passed (or the time that hasn’t passed for the characters in space), you see Murph, Tom, and Brand’s father, Dr. Brand (Michael Caine), age. Tom takes over his father’s farm, presumably because he had been told he would make a good farmer when he was young. But there's a sense in which his time at the farm, and his inability to leave it towards the end, serves as a metaphor for his unwillingness to give up hope on his father. The now-older Murph continues the work that Dr. Brand has done over at NASA. They grow older, becoming the age their father was when he left. This allows McConaughey to show his range of acting ability. He isn’t the stoic materialist that he is in True Detective. He's a more emotional, caring father, who acts in the interest of his children and his desire to go beyond his small-town world of farming.
Just like most of Nolan’s films, there's always mind-bending content that we have to deal with. But this movie—maybe more than any other of his films—has some sense of the beyond. There is a longing for another home, a better country for the people of civilization. And although the movie does so in strictly material ways, the ideas of space and time being manipulated spark ideas about the afterlife, especially in some parts later on in the film (I won’t spoil that for you).
While the film isn’t philosophically, or, from what I have read, scientifically sophisticated, one can view the film and never take in and process any of those things. Since the shots that the film gets are so rich, you’re basically lost in the wonder of it all.
I would rate this movie four out of five stars. I have never in my life seen a movie this amazing in terms of the outer space scenes. It's unbelievable, and it made me pretty upset at myself for not understanding concepts like string theory a bit more. The drama can seem forced at times, specifically from Hathaway, who doesn’t exhibit her best work in the movie. For a scientist, she acts very unlike a scientist and constantly has to apologize to Cooper.
But I will say this about the movie: after Birdman, this is the best movie I saw in 2014.
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