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Beyond The Black Horizon As A Crew Goes Interstellar

Updated on November 26, 2015

Interstellar tells the story of a mission to a remote part of the universe. Set at a point in the future, people in that time face drought, dust storms, and crop extinctions. Many have died, but others maintain the struggle to live. One of those who keep fighting is Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former astronaut forced to make a living on a farm. He encourages his children to learn about science, and that lesson registers well with his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy). Her belief in space travel, though, causes her some problem at school, though Cooper defends his daughter as best he can. Together, they investigate a series of occurrences on the farm, and discover a pattern that reveals coordinates. These coordinates lead to a secret base, which, they learn, secretly houses NASA, whose accomplishments have been debunked as staged events.

Professor Brand (Michael Caine), who leads the NASA efforts, knows Cooper from his space travel days. Brand needs a pilot to be a part of a covert mission that investigates some information sent from another galaxy by a previous mission. On the other side of black holes that have been discovered, the professor believes, man can find another world that will sustain human life. Despite Murphy's objections, Cooper agrees to pilot the ship, whose mission also includes a status check on a group of other astronauts who went into the black hole years earlier. The widowed Cooper leaves Murphy and son Tom (Timothee Chalame) in the care of his father-in-law Donald (John LIthgow), who also works the farm. Cooper then joins the other crew consists of Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyure), and Brand's daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway). Two robots also come to assist with the processes on the ship.

The crew makes a landing on one of the three planets that served as a destination of earlier flights, only to discover the wreckage of one mission, and a fast-moving wave about to wreck them. Most of the crew escape in time, but now have to decide which planet they visit next, due to a lack of fuel. They go to the bigger of the two, and discover that one astronaut, Dr. Mann (Matt Damon), had survived in suspended animation. At first, he seems happy and willing to help Cooper and the others. However, he hides a secret about the information he has transmitted, and he's willing to go to extremes to keep the crew from learning that secret. While time doesn't move as quickly where they've travelled, an adult Murphy (Jessica Chastain) helps Professor Brand in his endeavors. Tom (Casey Affleck) takes over the farm once Donald dies, though Tom's one surviving child has the health issues that have claimed so many. After Mann's efforts fail, Cooper takes drastic action to help Amelia head toward the third planet safely.

Interstellar is a cinematic ode to man and his possibilities from director and co-writer Christopher Nolan. Nolan shows a future where manmade events could spell an end to life on Earth, but he also shows scientists giving almost completely of themselves to reaching a solution that ensures the continued existence of mankind. Professor Brand and his crew are forced to work in an environment where people have come to question and dismiss most scientific discoveries. For example, Murphy brings her medical colleague Getty (Topher Grace) to the farm to have a look at Tom's son, but Tom gets angry over their efforts. The siblings desperately try to survive with the varied methods they deem best. Meanwhile, Cooper and Amelia discover that Dr. Mann has stopped caring about anyone other than himself. Interstellar doesn't have as much of a dark view of the world as Nolan's Batman/Dark Knight movies did, but shows how easily negative and combative attitudes can offset any noble intentions.

McConaughey continues to be on a roll with his work, which includes his fine performance in the HBO series True Detective and his Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club. Cooper is neither a gifted scientist nor a gifted farmer, but in both fields, Cooper has the responsibility of keeping a community looking forward to a chance of a better day. The mission takes him further in these responsibilities than he's ever gone, and leaving him hurts him as much as it hurts Murphy, his partner in exploration on the farm. Hathaway shines as the resolute Amelia, who takes her mission seriously, but also has a personal stake in a resolution beyond validating the work of her father. Chastain delivers as Murphy, who embodies the spirit of her father, but felt compelled by their efforts to remain, even when she grew old enough to make decisions for herself. Caine embodies the spirit of humanity as Professor Brand, driven by a belief of success, even when the transmissions don't hold the promise he had wanted. Damon makes a crafty adversary as Dr. Mann, while Bill Irwin voices some comic refief as the computer known as TARS, whose reactions sometimes seem human. Ellen Burstyn also makes the most of her small role here.

As the world changes, so must man. Some contend that this planet was never meant to sustain so many billion lives. Others insist on debating or denying that point, in spite of what scientists say. The people of the world, it seems, still have two paths to follow. One would allow for a better use of available resources and seek ways of finding and developing renewable sources of energy, while the other stays on a path that would eventually spell the end of all humanity. Interstellar strongly advocates for trust in people who understand that a changing climate will, in time, do none of us any good. In the 1950s, the scientific community engaged themselves in an 18-month International Geophysical Year, where much was learned about the place where we all live. That same spirit must continue to give ourselves a chance to pass on the best attributes of the planet for many more generations.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Interstellar four stars. A film that reminds us of Dylan Thomas's famous words, "Do not go gentle into that good night."


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      Pat Mills 20 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Yes, I'm more interested in a story that works than effects that do. Certainly, Christopher Nolan has created other worlds convincingly, but I appreciate more the story of Cooper and the efforts of fellow astronauts to try and find a solution to a difficult situation. Thanks for reading and enjoying.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 20 months ago

      A good review of Interstellar. I notice you didn't talk much about the movie's special effects. Was that by design?