By Gary Murray
Starring Mathew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain
Written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Running time 2 hr 49 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
Christopher Nolan is an epic film maker. Some of his works have been Memento, Inception and The Dark Knight Saga of three Batman films. He makes big flicks with large ideas. His latest and longest is his newest Interstellar.
Set in the near future, Mathew McConaughey plays Cooper. He was a space pilot who never got a chance to go into the great beyond. It seems that the space program has become a myth and most do not believe that man actually ventured into the cosmos. Our history has been changed. Cooper and his daughter Murphy know the truth, not what is in the textbooks.
In this future, most people are farmers and the farming is not going well. It seems that something is wrong with the planet and that all the plants are beginning to die off. Very few know the actual truth of the seriousness of the situation. It is inevitable that mankind is on its last legs. It breaks Cooper’s heart that we have lost our desire to explore.
Young Murphy begins to notice what she calls a ghost in their house. Cooper and Murphy begin to realize it is Morse code and someone is giving coordinates. This leads them to a gated area. In the area are the remnants of NASA and Professor Brand (Michael Caine). He has a plan to save the human race.
A wormhole has appeared near Saturn and it seems that on the other side are some planets that could support human life. The plan is to go through the hole, find a habitable planet and transport the population of the planet to their new home. That is plan A. There is also a plan B where the DNA of the human race is saved and the planet is populated by the descendants of the human race. The current version of the human race would be over but a new generation of mankind will be born.
Twelve probes have been sent out and none have made it back. There is a signal from one that keeps repeating. It is the only hope. Cooper decides to leave his family on this multiyear trip to save the world.
The story is of the ship going through the wormhole and the exploration of the new worlds on the other side. One is a water planet that has swells that are the size of mountains. They also go near a black hole which bends time. While they are on the planet for hours, regular time goes on for years. It all ends with an examination of what mankind will go through to save itself and how family love is the most powerful force in the universe.
The film is a very mixed bag of a feature, one that will draw sharp divisions with movie patrons. Some will absolutely hate every minute of the work while others will be enthralled by the concept. While I found some of the images interesting, the overall work just didn’t work.
There are so many little things that I hated in the film. First off, the robots are grating like a bad cross between HAL and the personality computers in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. They move like a spike ball, tumbling over water and rocks. It just looks stupid.
Also, it is irritatingly loud. The explosions rock the theater with such a volume that it pierces the eardrum. One needs earplugs to cut down on the explosive sounds. At the same time, the human voices are muffled and garbled. At time, one needs subtitles just to understand what is being said by the actors.
The casting was weak. Anne Hathaway was miscast as the fellow scientist. The more the film goes along the harder it is to believe that she is a hardened space explorer. While not as bad as some of the space bimbos that peppered the creature features from the 1950s, it was just as out of place performance.
The same can be said for Jessica Chastain as the adult Murphy. It takes a great leap of faith to believe her character arc and that she would be such an important lynchpin in saving the human race. To call the idea far fetched is a stretch.
One of the problems with winning the Oscar is the follow-up. One cannot go down that same path without people saying they are repeating themselves. At the same time, taking to great a risk challenges the expectations of the audience. That is the problem with Matthew. In this role, he is in way over his head. We go along with the premise of the film but not always with his acting. It takes a long time to get to the third act and Nolan and McConaughey has lost us in a sea of special effects.
On the plus side, some of the visuals are just stunning. The trip through the wormhole is a cool fan-boy experience. The explorations of the ice planet feels as if were a real alien world. It is just that some great visuals do not make for a great cinema experience. By the time the film gets to the end and to the point about love, most of the audience is lost in the minutia of the experience. It is way too many ideas crammed into a single movie.
In the end, Christopher Nolan thought he was making 2001: A Space Odyssey and ended up making 2010. It is not a seminal film on the exploration of man but a sci-fi adventure flick more along the lines of a Saturday matinee than a serious exploration of science. I feel that he wants to tell us something grand about the human experience but even he isn’t sure about what he is saying. One wants to yell “Tell us something!”