Interstellar achieves its large ambition for the most part

By Ross Lelieur

Staff Writer


Space ranks above all other human experiences as the most hostile environment ever faced.  Like astronauts who venture into the cosmos to explore unknown, dangerous territory, so too does Interstellar forage into the untested cinematic realm of highly emotional science fiction.  Unfortunately, as with actual space travel, Interstellar aims high, and does not always succeed.

The film opens over a dying Earth.  A mysterious blight wipes out staple crops and most people now work as farmers to make up the difference. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA pilot, is one of the farmers, plowing the dirt to retain a semi-comfortable life for his daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy, later Jessica Chastain), and son, Tom.   Through what seems to be otherworldly assistance, Cooper and Murph are led to a secret NASA facility, where they meet Professor Brand (Michael Cain), and his daughter Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway).  The scientists at NASA believe that Earth cannot be salvaged, and must be evacuated if the human race is to survive.  Cooper is recruited by Professor Brand to travel into space, and explore planets on the other side which have been reported as having the potential to support life.  Cooper is distraught to leave his beloved daughter behind, especially since he may not return, but agrees that he must go.  After a tearful goodbye, he embarks with the junior Brand and other crewmates on their Interstellar journey.

Interstellar has no issue creating an engaging plot, and the action keeps the audience at the edge of their seat throughout the whole movie.  The conflict is simple: Cooper must stay alive and seeks to return to his family. The complexity of the movie’s scientific concepts, like time dilation and wormhole physics, complements the simple plotline by making audiences think.

Interstellar masterfully strikes a balance between overwhelming and entertaining audiences with the amount of physics the film presents.

While the overall experience is well crafted, particular moments in the movie beautifully blend film fiction and scientific fact, and will stay with the audience long after the movie has ended. Unfortunately, there are only a few such scenes out of this 3 hour long movie, barring Interstellar from being called great. However, these moments set out on their own deserve the title of greatness.

Another plus of the film is its soundtrack.  Hans Zimmer blends standard orchestral score with an innovative touch: a church pipe organ.  The instrument features prominently in Interstellar’s booming score, and adds a unique sound to the film.  It appears in all moments of the film, from the loudest, most intense moments, to the quieter and more introspective ones.  Far from creating a gimmick, however, Zimmer keeps the organ tasteful and interesting.

Unfortunately, not all is so perfectly balanced in the film.  Though Christopher Nolan blends science and plot drama well, he stirs far too much unnecessary emotion, making it clear that he is not fully sure of what Interstellar is meant to be.  Most moments of the film fit neatly and pleasantly into the science fiction genre, but out-of-place moments remove the audience from this mindset and ruin the atmosphere of the film.  For example, the younger Brand’s speech as the crew quarrels over which planet to land on starts as a reasonable scientific debate on data and analysis, but quickly turns into a diatribe regarding how “love transcends dimensions.”  Audience members did not enter the theater expecting such sappy content, and few enjoyed the experience when it occurred.  Nolans’s theme of love transcending dimensions appears numerous times throughout the film, a misstep that mars the cinematic experience each time.  This can likely be attributed to Nolan’s overestimation of how valuable emotional appeal would be to his film, a disappointing but lonely mistake in a mostly masterful film.

Interstellar’s blend of science and drama works well, its plot flows without a hitch, and the soundtrack accentuates the already amazing work happening on-screen.  However, the film suffers from unnecessary attempts at pathos and comes out much worse for wear, appearing confused and incongruous.  This error, while surprisingly severe, does not the movie, though it does keep it short of brilliance.  Interstellar is worth watching for its best moments, but moviegoers shouldn’t hardly expect out-of-this world greatness.

Video Source: Interstellar Movie

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