LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - "Interstellar" is a grand epic in every sense. There is nothing humble or subtle about this film, even in the delivery of the poem, "Do not go quietly into the night," that plays as an effective-though-overused pathos. From Hans Zimmer's blazing score to the immense cinematography and visuals of IMAX proportions, audiences will definitely be taken for a ride.
Set in a not-too-distant future where the earth is plagued by devastating dust storms, leading to the brink of humanity's starvation, Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a pilot and engineer turned corn farmer.
+ Rated PG-13
+ 169 minutes
+ Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Ellen Burstyn
+ 2.5 stars out of 4
Cooper has a strong relationship with his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy), and presumably due to the sake of plot and time, not as strong of a relationship with his older son. Cooper is restless with the ways of the world, preferring not to be driving a truck through a cornfield but venturing out into the stars. His desire for a greater purpose comes coincidentally enough when he and Murph stumble upon a hidden NASA facility, where a group of scientists led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine) is investigating the possibilities of a wormhole deep into the galaxy that could lead them to another universe in hopes to find another planet where humanity could find a new home.
Brand courts Cooper into leading the mission, explaining his daughter's generation will be the last to survive in their dying world unless he is willing to save them.
Not much time is put into Cooper's contemplation, as his agreement to go on the mission is inevitable. Father and daughter both realize it will be countless years before they will ever see each other again, which leads to the most emotional scene of the film. As Cooper drives off, tears streaming down his face after failing to properly see off his distraught daughter, though Murph tries unsuccessfully to chase after him.
Cooper joins Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) and a small (expendable) crew and a sarcastic robot on a journey into the depths of space, leading to a visually remarkable sequence as the explorers enter a wormhole into another universe.
Back on Earth, the years pass and the crops burn. Murph, (now grown and played by Jessica Chastain) tirelessly searches for her father and whether another habitable world is even possible. It is an artistic choice to merely detail all the suffering that has occurred on earth, as the brink of humanity's starvation is only hinted at a minute scale. There is that curiosity of wanting more of how this human crisis will play out since the film has such a strong opening.
The performances are as well strong. McConaughey, currently in the midst of a career renaissance, dutifully plays a loving father turned brave explorer of the unknown, torn constantly between finding a new, habitable world, and being reunited with his children. Hathaway delivers what her character asks of her, serving primarily as the emotional arc of the film, insisting love is what can transcend time and space. And Chastain is as always a wonderful actress.
Yet director and co-screenwriter Christopher Nolan is the true star of "Interstellar, as this is his grandest and most audacious film to date. Through the immense success and acclaim of the "Dark Knight" trilogy, Nolan has unquestionably built a passionate fan base, which will undoubtedly come to defend each and every point in the script for which some viewers may question. This is a story that tries to bring a heavy pathos yet the script drowns itself in science and philosophy as the story becomes far more complex than what it needs to be. At 169 minutes, there are dialogue scenes in which it seems we are traveling across the universe in real time.
So much momentum is packed into this space odyssey, but the reward in the destination is personally, slightly disappointing. The payoff in seeing a planet covered in a foot of water, and another, little more than a glacier is slightly dissatisfying. Any anticipation in seeing a grand world is replaced with an improbable, overly multifaceted climax.
Film is an art form, meant to engage and entertain. "Interstellar" most definitely achieves that with its epic grandeur and spectacular visuals. Yet the story so often gets weighed down in its own profundity and truly seems at times to be lost in space.
People of course will have mixed opinions after seeing this film. Some have portrayed it to be a spiritual, cinematic masterpiece, whereas others such as myself found the film mostly entertaining yet I walked out of the theater more so contemplating its conundrums than its marvel. Ultimately, it is a curious irony that I was more interested in what happens on earth than what goes on in the stars.
"Interstellar" is currently playing in theaters and IMAX nationwide.