Movies

Movie Review: Interstellar

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interstellarIf there’s one movie I was most looking forward to seeing this year, it was “Interstellar.”

With a story shrouded in mystery, ambitious visual effects, directed by an acclaimed director and starring a top flight cast, it’s one of the most anticipated movies of 2014. Attending the panel at Comic-Con with director Christopher Nolan (“Memento, “Inception,” “The Dark Knight”) and star Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club,” “The Lincoln Lawyer”) this summer only skyrocketed the expectations.

Earth is on life support, on the edge of extinction. Cooper (McConaughey), a former astronaut, is now a farmer, working the corn fields. Overexploitation in the 20th century has led to earth’s rapid deterioration. It’s functioning at the most basic level; food, water and shelter. But there’s no such thing as dreams for a better life. Cooper lives in a humble abode in the field, often engulfed in dust storms, with his two kids, Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and Tom (Timothee Chalamet), and his father (John Lithgow).

When called by Professor Brand (Michael Caine, “Inception,” “The Dark Knight” trilogy) from NASA, Cooper returns to his calling for a journey to the unknown. A wormhole has been found, which may be the key to find another place in space for humanity. Cooper’s departure is not without sacrifice. It’s gutwrenching to leave everything behind, especially saying goodbye to his daughter, not knowing how long his intergalactic travel will be. He promises his daughter that he will back, not knowing the full picture.

Cooper blasts into space in the Endurance spacecraft, with the professor’s daughter, Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables,” “The Dark Knight Rises”), along with a couple of other crew members and two robots. The robots are great supporting characters, providing lighter moments in their interactions with the humans. Midway through the voyage, they’re joined by another character, whose surprising appearance contributes to one of the most intense sequences in the movie.

Time is truly of the essence. Every decision must be thought out thoroughly and calculated carefully. Once they surpass the wormhole, they must choose which planets to land on, survey and gather data. There’s a strong sense of scarcity. Time is a precariously precious resource, not just fuel or oxygen. On one planet, an hour translates to seven years on earth. One mistake could cost them decades and humanity’s extinction. Further, there’s never any certainty in how far time or space would get distorted. And unknown, foreign landscapes can transform a mild exploration into a harrowing moment.

“Interstellar” is a duel of philosophies, one for being human and feeling connected to our loved ones and our generation, and the other for obligations to reach higher and do something greater for the future survival of mankind. And at the heart of it, wholeheartedly acted, an emotional tale between father and daughter (Jessica Chastain as adult Murph) that transcends time and space.

The visuals are vast and victorious. Majestically framed and filmed, they invoke a sense of awe, reminiscent of last year’s award-winning “Gravity.” Spinning and floating space station against the dark starry skies, shining spheres, kaleidoscope of cosmic colors and lights, mountain of tidal waves, sea of clouds, jagged ice tundra. The score (Hans Zimmer, “Inception,” “The Dark Knight”)  impeccably underscores tense moments peaking with crescendo and cutting into silence.

The film is not without flaws. The running time of nearly three hours and verbose dialogue on quantum physics, gravity and relativity could have been toned down without impacting the story. In real life, they don’t withstand scrutiny anyway. But in this universe, it’s believable enough in its plausibility.

“Interstellar” is imperfectly perfect in its stellar storytelling, simplicity of the plot and complicated details. A celestial tapestry of space exploration, time bender and heartfelt human story, it earns its place among the stars.

Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

"Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com."

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