Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Interstellar: Movie Review

Interstellar: Movie Review

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, MacKenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon
Director: Christopher Nolan

Pompous, po-faced, ultra-serious and disappearing up its own 5 dimensional ass over an extended run time.

These are all accusations that can be levelled at Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated new film, Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey as a pilot-turned-farmer-turned-astronaut, who heads to space to save the planet's future. (The Earth's barren, remote and dying after nature turned on us in the biggest uprising since those plants had a chat with Marky Mark in The Happening)

But in doing so, you also have to counter with the words dizzying, visual symphony, mesmerising, intelligent and awe-inspiring - as well as a lesson in quantum physics and wormholes that potentially even Stephen Hawking would have fun taking a look at.

Dialling down his Texan swagger but upping his considerable charm to help him spout cod trite bon-mots over how we used to look to the stars but now stare down at the ground, McConaughey's Coop and his relationship with his daughter Murph (played in early years by MacKenzie Foy and in latter by Jessica Chastain) prove to be the much-needed and occasionally absent emotional centre of this extended space-operatic meditation on love across the dimensions.

In this three hour space-set epic (that occasionally lags back down to earth), Nolan's crafted something of a scale that's reminiscent of the 70s Kubrickian look and feel of 2001: A Space Odyssey and recent Oscar-winning outing Gravity; the space interiors are a pristine dirty white and feel realistic (as if some kind of NASA video training programme) as Hans Zimmer's occasionally OTT organ-based and Tubular Bells-reminiscent score blasts from the IMAX screen, building to a crescendo as Nolan tries to orchestrate drama on earth and in space.

Along with various intonations of Michael Caine spouting Dylan Thomas' "Rage against the dying of the light" and him decrying that by the time Coop returns he "will have solved the problem of gravity", there's a danger that the script pitches its way into an overload of drama as the cod philosophical musings reach a feverish level about two thirds of the way in. To say more is to reveal spoilers and the Nolan MO is to gradually leak out moments designed for hysterical detonation as they all converge and for the internet to dissect at a later stage.

However, in among all that heavy sci-fi exposition and relativity jargon that's espoused on screen (which demonstrates how much research Jonathan Nolan did on the subject), there's a truly wondrous spectacle to behold in Interstellar.

The space scenes provoke much awe and wonder in a mix of 35mm and 70mm IMAX as the crew (along with wise-cracking robot) negotiates a black hole in a manner akin to what we witnessed back in the 1970s - but it's the emotional scenes where the McConnaissance continues and which give Interstellar its heart and soul that's lacking elsewhere in the film due to underdeveloped characters who merely orbit his Coop (no worse offender than Casey Affleck's son who barely registers - and Anne Hathaway who delivers a terribly corny speech about the values of love from high above.)

A scene where Coop views 23 years of recorded messages from his family and Nolan fixes on his tearful visage is a moment which defies you not to finally feel something as the survival instinct and sentimental love for the family finds its much needed footing (something which is left floundering in parts due to lengthy exposition and little else). It's McConaughey who carries this mission without a shadow of a doubt as Interstellar goes beyond its pro-space race / pioneers message (even taking on the theory the Moon landings were faked) and into matters of the heart and abandonment, albeit with varying degrees of success.

You can't deny Christopher Nolan's ambition with Interstellar - even though what transpires is a flawed masterpiece in many ways that reignites a nostalgic passion so lost over space exploration and yet so steeped in hokum.

But you be wrong to ignore the fact Interstellar is an exhilarating masterpiece that delivers a lot to ponder on (despite its predominantly gooey centre, potentially polarising play-out, occasionally cold core and out-there ending) and proffers up a thoughtful philosophical space-age opera and event movie that's surprisingly grounded in matters closer to earth than the stars above us.

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