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Interstellar Review [Spoilers]

Updated on November 19, 2014

Interstellar (2014)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Everyone dreams of going into space, but how many of us would actually do it if we were given the chance? How amazing would it be to explore a world that human kind has never touched and think “What does this world have to offer?” Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar gives us the chance to take that journey. Though, it may not be as exciting as you think.

The plot centers around Cooper (McConaughey), an astronaut turned farmer, raising two kids as a single father and believing that the best years of his life are behind him. His daughter is trying to communicate with a “ghost” in her bedroom. He doesn’t believe his daughter, at first, but immediately becomes convinced that something is communicating with them when a “binary code” message is formed on the floor after a dust storm……. Okay???

After translating the code into coordinates, Cooper and his daughter travel to the location and find a secret base run by NASA. Cooper finds an old friend there, Professor Brand (Caine), who chooses Cooper to pilot a secret mission into space in search of a new planet to establish a human colony, because Earth is dying.

Cooper is joined by Brand’s daughter (Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyasi), and a very weird robot called TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) as he travels through a wormhole, near Saturn, which is believed to be a shortcut to another galaxy with at least three planets that could possibly sustain human life.

Cooper (McConaughey) and Brand (Hathaway) lead an expedition to find a new planet that can sustain life.
Cooper (McConaughey) and Brand (Hathaway) lead an expedition to find a new planet that can sustain life.

I have to hand it to Nolan, he knows how to play with actual real theories and turn them into something entertaining. But they really make your brain hurt. Black holes, wormholes, time travel, many physician theories play a role in this movie.

One of the things I respect about this movie is that Nolan tries to make the movie look as natural as possible, with only using computer graphics where they’re necessary. The filmmakers went through the trouble not just to make sets for the ship, but they built the entire ship for the crew to film inside. Another thing, absolutely no green screens were used for this movie! All of the clips of outer space that we see through the ships windows were projected off of a huge projection screen! I just love how unique Nolan gets when making his movies! But that being said, this movie does have its share of problems.

This movie’s main problem is the length: Three hours!!! It’s unnecessary, and much of the second act of the movie drags. So much of it could have been cut.

Another problem is the new planets. If you’re expecting wondrous new worlds with beautiful landscapes and fantasy type creatures, then you’re better off watching Star Wars or Avatar. These three planets don’t offer any imagination or wonder. Each one seems to consist of only one type of environment: water, snow, and desert. The only planets that seemed unique are the water and the ice planet. With the characters wading on the top of what seems to be a deep blue sea and gigantic tidal waves so high it’s almost impossible to see the top. On the ice world everything was frozen, even the clouds, giving the illusion that the planet has two surfaces. But still, the dream states in Nolan’s Inception (2010) seemed to offer more imagination and atmosphere than this film.

Doyle (Bentley) wading through the water planet.
Doyle (Bentley) wading through the water planet.
The Ice Planet!
The Ice Planet!

Matthew McConaughey is not at his best in this movie. Some parts work, but most of the time he doesn’t do anything for the film. During the beginning, when his daughter is trying to communicate with the ghost, he doesn’t believe her, at first, but after a dust storm leaves markings on the his daughter’s bedroom floor, he is convinced that something is trying to communicate with them. Why does he become a believer so easily? He doesn’t even try to think of a logical explanation!

I have one question about Anne Hathaway’s character. Why couldn’t she have her own name? Instead, she is the name Brand, the surname of her father, Professor Brand. They could’ve just given her a different name to separate her from her father’s character, but no, we have to call them both by their family name, “Brand”.

Cooper’s son, Tom (Casey Affleck), isn’t established as well as he should be. Most of the movie focuses on the relationship between Cooper and his daughter, Murph (Chastain). Why was his son tossed aside? Through most of the movie, he seems like a pretty stand up guy. He keeps in touch with his father while Cooper travels through space; he has a loving wife, and a child. But towards the end of the film, they make him out to have a violent side. When he is warned that his family needs to leave their home because the dust storms are becoming more frequent and deadly, he refuses. They make him out to be a bit more hostile than he is in the beginning. This dark side of him just comes out of nowhere!

Cooper’s daughter, Murph, goes through the entire movie being mad at her father for leaving. She always comes down hard on him in the messages she sends him. If she’s been mad at him all of these years, then why did she end up working for NASA, when they are the ones that sent her father away?

At the end of the movie, she figures out that it was her dad that was communicating with her in her bedroom, instead of a ghost, when she was a kid. How do people in this movie become convinced of certain things so easily?

It turns out that what “Ghost Cooper” was trying to tell his daughter was a way to save humanity. But it is never revealed exactly what the solution was. Was it a mathematical formula? Coordinates to a new planet? What? But somehow, Murph is able to understand her father’s code a goes on to save the human race from the dying Earth. Some of the plot lines are very confusing in this film.

A couple of characters end up making a late appearance, like Matt Damon as Dr. Mann, a scientist that was stranded on the ice planet and Topher Grace as Getty, Murph’s boyfriend. Getty seems like wasted space. He’s not established well enough nor does he do anything for the film other than support Murph. It seems his character was only developed to give Murph a happy ending.

Cooper says goodbye to Young Murph (MacKenzie Foy)
Cooper says goodbye to Young Murph (MacKenzie Foy)

This movie is supposed to take place in the future, but you can’t really tell. They seem to have a lot of the same technology that we have today. There is nothing really futuristic about this world unless they remind you through dialog. NASA is, supposedly, gone and schools are now considering the thought that maybe the human race never landed on the moon? Basically, the human race is beginning to believe that it’s best to stay grounded and not reach for the stars. Really, do we become that naive?

Matthew McConaughey (left) in "Interstellar" and Keir Dullea (right) in "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Matthew McConaughey (left) in "Interstellar" and Keir Dullea (right) in "2001: A Space Odyssey"

This movie also has many similarities to other sci-fi classics. The characters talk about gravity, often, which makes me think that it was supposed to be the original title of the film, until Sandra Bullock’s Gravity (2013) took it first. There are some scenes that even reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The robot, TARS, even reminded me of the Hal 9000 computer, but without the troubling personality.

However, despite these flaws, it was still an entertaining movie for the most part and has that Christopher Nolan atmosphere. It’s not Nolan’s best, but it’s not his worst either. If anything, I rank this movie at #3 or #4 on my favorite Christopher Nolan movies, behind Inception, The Dark Knight, and possibly Batman Begins, but that one’s a bit iffy.

Overall Rating: 3/5

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