*Editor’s note: Expect to see more of this… Movie reviews! Before you proceed, it should be noted that this review has a few spoilers, but nothing beyond what you would see in the trailer. Speaking of which, the trailer is below too. Enjoy!
“Houston, we have a problem…
Brand, what happened to Houston?”
Captain Coop (Matthew McConaughey) never really says this in the film, although he very well could have.
The Definition of Sci-fi
Interstellar is not so much a space drama as science fiction with a capital S. Now, a clarification; this is not the kind of fun space romp like Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy. This is classic sci-fi where the story revolves around answering certain questions about human nature as driven by scientific speculation. Interstellar, using a lot of complex physics, asks the biggest question of all, “Will love really, finally redeem the human race?”
OK, so at this point you are either excited or groaning. The theme might sound sappy to some or overly ambitious to others, but film buffs who love Nolan celebrate him for being the most ambitious of Hollywood directors. And we applaud the effort, even if this time Nolan has not quite reached the heights of his previous successes.
The Plot Summary: Family Man Goes on a Mission into Space to Save Mankind
Interstellar sets the scene a dystopic future very reminiscent of a familiar past, the Great Depression of 1930s America. Environmental disaster has made the earth one large dust bowl, and the remnant population have to get back to the land in increasingly futile attempts at growing food. Struggling at the centre of the film is a motherless family headed by Coop (Matthew McConaughey), an ex-NASA pilot and engineer, trying to keep his son Tom (Timothy Chalamee/Casey Affleck) and daughter Murph (McKenzie Foy/ Jessica Chastain/ Ellen Burstyn) alive in their bleak world. Guided by mysterious forces that haunt his daughter’s room, Coop stumbles across a secret NASA base whose project is to find a planet that can be repopulated by humans in further star systems. Coop’s old mentor Professor Brand (Michael Caine) convinces Coop to lead the mission with Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway). The crew then embarks on a space odyssey through the cosmos, using the sci-fi staple of a wormhole near Saturn as the means of travel between solar systems. Meanwhile, Murph on Earth was left behind to fume about her father’s abandonment and simultaneously help Professor Brand with his ongoing calculations.
Is the Science Right?
Plenty then for the sci-fi fan to chew on, and indeed Nolan has a lot of fun with the physics. Despite Nolan’s extensive use of scientific advisers, you can read elsewhere online about where the science possibly goes wrong. In actuality, the physics involved here is so theoretical that it is truly impossible to judge its rightness or wrongness in a meaningful way. It is not the theory we are really looking for here, but instead we want to see what the science means to the human characters and their search for meaning and survival. Where is the heart of our cold, dark universe?
Hankies at the Ready
Actually, it is in the warmth of McConaughey’s performance as Coop. Sure, sometimes, you get the sense that he might not understand all the scientific jargon he is spouting, but the central love father-daughter love story compellingly works as the string that binds the movie. There is undeniably more schmaltz here than in Nolan’s other films, not helped along by a heavy handed musical score, but frankly it is needed to melt what otherwise could be an icy film about isolation of humanity in space.
Sunday Family Day Will Never Be the Same Again
In the end, what could be more life affirming than a story about family love in the most desperate of circumstances? While the film sometimes lurches through its many chapters, there are enough thrilling and beautiful scenes to keep one interested. I recommend watching Interstellar on a Saturday, so that it can be thought over on Sunday, as its themes are interestingly interpretable through both Christian and humanistic lenses. And, you know what, it might even inspire you to give your dad a hug, only don’t let him leave you with Michael Caine while he shoots off with Anne Hathaway.
Interstellar is showing this weekend for its second week of release in Ayala Centre Cebu.