When we look up at the stars we wonder what is just beyond our reach. Will we be able to explore other planets and perhaps colonize deep space, making Earth no longer obsolete to our species? Movies have tackled the idea of the universe and all that is out there, but rarely has a film ever got it right. Space is scary, tricky and utterly dangerous and the more we watch movies that are science fiction, we may just get the idea wrong of what’s out there in the cosmos. Christopher Nolan‘s ambitious sci-fi epic Interstellar is a movie that is filled with huge ideas, is loaded with deep emotion and is one hell of a remarkable experience! This was my first time seeing this film and with a theater filled with people witnessing the spectacular show, Interstellar was a mind-blowing experience that is reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey for the modern age.
Interstellar was said to be the biggest anticipated show at Ebertfest and I could see why. Personally, it wasn’t the film that I was most eager to see, but after watching it, I felt this utter sense of emotion wash over me. There are few movies that I’ve experienced that leave your heart feeling a unique way. Movies have a way of evoking emotion and one way to do that is through the characters we meet. Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer Club) delivers a performance that just may be his best one to date as a man who takes on a mission with the great risk of never seeing his family again.
As I thought prior to the movie starting, I figured that Interstellar would be a big science fiction movie — man was I wrong about that! I had just watched 2001 not long ago and while watching Interstellar I wondered to myself, “Wait, what am I watching here!? There’s already a sequel to 2001?” I became so immersed in the story that I lost track of time. I will admit that the movie is too long, but I never felt bored or felt disconcerted throughout the duration. I’m going to avoid talking about the plot as that is something you should experience with a crowd of people. This isn’t one of the movies where you’re bored and just throw something on. This demands an audience and a discussion.
At EbertFest we had two actual astrophysicists come up on stage and talk about the science of the film. To hear them speak made me want run to the University of Illinois and jump into an astronomy class. I love studying the unknowns of the Universe and all that’s in it. It’s vast, unusual and something that we’ll never fully comprehend in my lifetime; the only thing I would’ve wanted was to see is astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson show up! According to the two that we met on stage, Interstellar does have fiction in it (obviously) but remains very close to science fact. Nolan and his team set out to make a movie that sticks to the facts of science and even throw in some “what if” possibilities.
To tell you the truth, I was scared watching this movie. Let me explain: My mother has always asked me, “If you could, would you ever travel to the space?” I always say “No.” Space is terrifying because anything could happen in a matter of seconds. It’s the same scenario on Earth, but here we have resources to call upon if something happens. In space, everything is different. There is no gravity, we float is space and can’t breathe the air. It’s freezing cold and is quite a hostile environment.
There’s a moment in the movie where our team of scientists played by Anne Hathaway, Wes Bently, David Gyasi and even the robot A.I. TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin), are approaching a wormhole, a theoretical object which allows a shortcut between two places. In the movie, the wormhole transports the scientists to another galaxy where twelve possible planets are located near a black hole that possibly could allow life to flourish. The scene of them arriving at the wormhole and fast approaching it made the hair on my arms stand up, my heart was racing and I felt so scared of what was going to happen. I envisioned myself as the scientists in that moment and I was on edge.
As a whole, Interstellar is a beautiful picture to look at. This reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey in so many ways. If you look at both films, there is one glaring difference. 2001 showed us the possibilities of a future we have yet to achieve, while Interstellar told us that being together and staying strong is the future of our survival; and that’s what Interstellar is really about, holding strong to survive the unknown. The relationship between Cooper (McConaughey) and Murph, his daughter, played by Mackenzie Foy as a young girl and Jessica Chastain as an adult, is the heart of the picture.
These two have been separated for so long and seeing the moment when Cooper leaves his daughter is one of the most memorable, if not heartbreaking, scenes of the movie. For a sci-fi, I didn’t expect so much emotion to overcome me as I was watching. Not to mention, the spectacular soundtrack by the great Hans Zimmer adds emotion and wonder and is one of his best composed scores of his career. Interstellar is a film that really surprised me and is the type of sci-fi that I enjoy the most — ideas, sense of scale and the wonder of “what if” are what excites me most about sci-fi. The spectacle of action, big alien ships and explosions galore don’t do much for me. I like to think with the movies I watch.
All kidding aside, I think it’s time we really look deep into Interstellar and mention some things that can’t be avoided. One thing that bothered me was that I didn’t get a sense of fear that the world was coming to an end. It was just thrown at us and we bought it almost immediately. There wasn’t any evidence to suggest that the world was ending with the exception of some interviews in the beginning. Evidently the people who built the spacecraft Endurance spent more time on a theory than trying to solve the situation on Earth is interesting for scientists to do. Plus, why would you risk traveling to a place in the universe where a giant blackhole is lurking near-by!? Of course, that comes into play later for the plot, but seriously a blackhole is extremely dangerous. There are hundreds if not thousands of exoplanets that could be in the habitable zone that aren’t near any blackholes. Why was the mission to save Earth not seen as a worldwide situation? The movie only focuses on the small group of people we see at the launch site. We get no sense of what’s happening around the world! One more thing, you’re telling me that when Cooper and the team arrive on Miller’s planet with the water that they were there for more than three hours to make the 23 years on Earth advance!? It took that long? I think we may be missing some scenes Mr. Nolan.
Interstellar is a film that has a lot of ideas that may confuse the general audience, but that’s because the science is very complex and thankfully it’s done right. The wormhole, blackhole and seeing the planets are the coolest moments of the movie, making me feel like a kid again and being excited for what’s in the cosmos. The father-daughter relationship at the center make it a sci-fi movie built on the strongest thing that no one can tear down, love.
I would say watch both 2001 and Interstellar for the impact that they achieve. They are big in terms of scale and are truly unforgettable. I prefer Interstellar as a piece of entertainment while 2001 is cemented as one of the biggest inspirations of the sci-fi community of story-telling and filmmaking; but, it isn’t one that I would return to watch again. One last thing, when you think about the title of Interstellar it’s incorrect. Interstellar is traveling to different stars. Wouldn’t it be intergalactic because they travel to another galaxy if not many, we don’t know for sure. The wormhole transported them there, but in all honesty Intergalactic isn’t as cool a movie title as Interstellar!