Interstellar

During a new American
depression created by
overly industrialised
farming in the mid-west,
the US heartland has
become an increasingly
poisonous dust-bowl
environment, with an
impending famine that
devastates the ability of
planet Earth to sustain
life, never mind help feed
the struggling fragile
societies forming a global
population of six billion.
Engineer turned robottractor
wrangler Cooper
(Matthew McConaughey)
eventually teams up with
NASA biologist Dr Brand
(Anne Hathaway) for an
exploratory mission to
Saturn, where a wormhole
might provide easy access
to other inhabitable
worlds.
Interstellar is, more
accurately, a science
fictional drama about
inter-galactic travel. There
is a cool realism to
depictions of hardware,
including designs for
spacecraft like the
‘Endurance’, so that
everything from the
technical gear of ship
interiors to various
weightless sequences and
orbital action scenes is
remarkably convincing,
comparing favourably to
such recent movies as
Gravity.

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In addition to the
hard-SF concepts that
inform the plot, this genre
production also
rationalises some
paranormal/ apparently
supernatural phenomena,
like ghostly poltergeist
activity, as initially
misunderstood attempts
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to communicate via
gravity waves across
space-time.
But even more compelling
is the drama that accepts
the socio-political failures
of late 20th century
education systems that
have produced generations
of workers lacking much
ambition greater than
finding regular
employment, a situation
that resulted in school’s
teaching bogus history
lessons, including such
nonsense that Apollo
missions where faked as
Cold War propaganda to
bankrupt the Soviet
Union.
Far beyond the Earth, the
spectacular landscapes of
strange alien planets
almost fulfil the cinematic
promise suggested by the
possibilities of an
imaginative combination
of location filming and
cutting-edge digital imageenhancement.
Surfing a
landing-craft on
mountainous waves, and
the hero’s climactic
docking manoeuvre with a
spinning orbiter are the
main highlights of this
movie’s traditional space
opera appeal.
The blocky slab-like robots
(named TARS and CASE)
here are the picture’s
foremost witty allusion to
Stanley Kubrick’s classic,
2001: A Space Odyssey, a
creative conceit
particularly inspired by
Arthur C. Clarke’s notion
that 2001’s mysterious
monolith is an alien-tech
version of a useful Swiss
army knife. And so the
shape-shifting droids of
Interstellar have
functional appendages
which are not unlike flickout
blades to affect a
versatile utility.
Marooned light-years from
home, Dr Mann (Matt
Damon) livens up the sci-fi
movie’s third-act
Robinson Crusoe-like
confrontation that results
from his survey mission on
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one of the prospective
habitable worlds. Cooper
and Brand end up
suffering from the
isolation and social
distancing of time-dilation
effects caused by the
colonial plans for their
expedition to visit an
extra-solar planet that’s
affected by the pull of a
black hole amusingly
nicknamed Gargantua.
Hans Zimmer’s polished
and ultimately stirring
score underlines the
movie’s sincerity and
support its epic qualities
as a multi-generational
mystery-adventure, but
Nolan’s usually astute
direction has a tendency to
slip off-course, so the
latter half is prone to
lapses into some crudely
sentimental episodes.
Refusal to accept the
obvious fact that any longterm
Earth-bound survival
of a massive population is
doomed weakens the
rationality of its SF
premise. The burden of
cartoonish quasi-religious
beliefs in love and the
necessity of the hero’s
pioneering will-power do
weigh the narrative down
a lot, but without crippling
it.
The biggest problem with
Interstellar is that its
ideas-based plot is such a
tightly wound timepiece
that it’s a clockwork
mechanism without much
room for human quirks
beyond the obvious fears,
betrayals, and familial
bonding clichés. Even the
accomplished supporting
cast of Michael Caine,
John Lithgow, and Jessica
Chastain have precious
little to do except react to
over-emotional beats and
unexpected blips of the
futuristic storyline.
Disc extras: a featurette
The Science Of Interstellar
(50 minutes), is somewhat
lazily narrated by
McConaughey, but
successfully examines
some of the basic
astrophysics (the Big
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Bang, cosmology, and
entropy, etc.) that
supports the speculative
fictions of this movie, with
vague input from scientist
Kip Thorne, although
watching Cosmos – the
original or its remake –
would probably be more
helpful to many viewers.
There’s also a batch of five
short behind-the-scenes
items.
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