Interstellar: An Intergalactic Masterpiece

*Rarely are films made where the whole family can attend and actually be entertained.  Usually, one or more members leave the theater somewhat disappointed.  ‘Interstellar,’ the newest film by famed director Christopher Nolan, offers to please everyone in this sci-fi bonanza of light, color and geometry.

In an undisclosed future, Earth is dying.  Filled with dust storms and harvestless crops, the people struggle to survive, but one Air Force engineer turned farmer stumbles upon a NASA research base and the rest is movie history.

Of course there’s more to the story than that, and star Matthew McConaughey who plays the film’s lead, describes the film as, “Science fiction that goes to the furthest limits that we have seen before.”

The stars of ‘Interstellar,’ which include Michael Cane, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy and Anne Hathaway, each lift their characters up in unique ways that push the movie forward.  Standout performances from McConaughey, Hathaway and British star David Gyasi as the intergalactic flight crew float to the top and make being an astronaut more believable.

Graphically, ‘Interstellar’ is leaps and bounds beyond the ‘Hyperspace Fold’ or the ‘Warp Engines’ of yester-year’s film engineering.  Garnering the talents of Theoretical Physicist Kip Thorne, Nolan bent his and co-writer Jonathan Nolan’s imaginations around some complex mathematical models of what space would be like up close and personal to phenomenon only looked at from afar.

Astounded by the results of his models, Thorne notes, “We learned some weird things about the visual appearance of black holes and wormholes in the process of making this movie.”

Time is another aspect of this film that the Nolan brothers attacked head on implementing gravitational-time theories and 5th Dimension metaphysics into the plot as if they were normal plot devises.  The result is in an awe inspiring epic that will cause coffee table conversation for years to come.

Time, however, is a dangerous endeavor.  If you do not take it seriously, it can leave even experienced writer’s plot seeming simple and not thought out like so many time travel movies that have left film fanatics and critics alike exiting the theater with that confused puppy dog look.   The Nolan brothers do a decent job dealing with the aspect of time and making the science behind interstellar space travel simple to comprehend without losing the awesomeness needed for great storytelling.

One area that Nolan never disappoints is vehicle and vehicle action sequences.  From the time-lapse dream crash shot from inside of that white van in ‘Inception’ to the ‘Batmobile,’ Nolan outdoes himself with the sequence of vehicles in Interstellar.

Beginning with a plain, dusty pick up, viewers are transported into the world of NASA space craft via what seems like classic footage of the Apollo Rocket, just to make it to space and view an orbiting space station equipped with multiple, space-worthy landers.  The best of which is a sleek, thruster-backed ship that, although was capable of atmospheric and space flight, had trouble landing and launching on an aquatic planet that had 50 foot tall waves.  Despite the ship’s engine troubles, it remains the best vehicle in the movie, even surpassing the single man space vehicle that McConaughey launches off with in the final sequences of the movie.  That final ship only loses points for being so close in design to both the Star Wars Snowspeeder and the fighters on Battlestar Galactica.

Although the ending, obviously designed to set up a more action oriented sequel, left much to be desired, plot-wise, few movie goers left the Chinese-Grumman Theater’s late October screening with negative grumbles on their tongues.  Unless you were actually a theoretical physicist, a science and space junky or an actual astronaut, most of the math and science talk will fly right over your head like a lost drone fighter and you will be taken in by the beautiful 3-dimentional landscapes of the alien worlds and the vastness of space re-imagined with Nolan, visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin and special effects animators from Double Negative and L.A.’s New Deal Studios’ latest efforts.

“We wanted to find a way to use the IMAX camera like the world’s largest Go-Pro camera,” said cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, “but it took some experimentation to tweak the technology.”

No film is perfect, and Interstellar isn’t the imagination explosion that Star Wars was, nor does it contain the heart touching storyline of Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but it does out do the latest realistic space movies and contains a rich, somewhat echo-friendly plot, relatable characters, interesting plot twists, climactic vehicle sequences and artful landscapes and transition scenes.  If nothing else, Interstellar is a memorable, family friendly movie, which is great for a post-dinner date, group outing, family movie night or any groups who just wants to see beautiful things and are not going to ask too many questions.

However, this film is not for the boys to go see after the big game, unless your game is a futuristic version of the classic Dungeons and Dragons board game.  Where this movie is big on heart-felt father-daughter scenes and mushy monologues, it is weak on action oriented fight scenes and explosions that the guys like, having only two of each, respectively and only three spaceships.  Although visually it holds its own against any movie, it is not a ‘Dark Knight.’

‘Interstellar’ remains a must see for space industry buffs, families with young children and sci-fi lovers of all ages who just want to have a nice, clean movie-going experience without the gratuitous sex, killing and virtual destruction found in many current action movies.

Interstellar opens in theaters, November 5.  For more information on Interstellar, go to www.interstellarmovie.net.

 

 

Interstellar: An Intergalactic Masterpiece