Thursday, November 6, 2014

Interstellar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_%28film%29
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The Earth is no longer capable of supporting life. America is ravaged by frequent dust storms causing serious pulmonary problems for its inhabitants. Corn is the last crop to endure the planet’s worsening condition, but is predicted to go extinct in a few years or so. The Apollo moon landing did not really happen; it was just a government ploy back then to bankrupt the Russians in a fictional race to reach outer space. This is what is being taught in schools at least, to dissuade the youth from investing time in technology-related careers. Farmers have replaced engineers in the list of in-demand professions, given their importance in the current society which has no choice but to fall back on agriculture. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is one of those corn farmers, but he is also a man of science. A disgraced pilot, he discovers a gravitational anomaly in his daughter’s bedroom which gives them coordinates pinpointing the covert location of NASA, now operating underground. There they meet Professor Brand (Michael Caine) who expounds on the repercussions of the world’s current dilemma. A wormhole has appeared next to Saturn, leading to a galaxy with planets capable of supporting life. The plan is for Cooper to man the spacecraft along with Amelia (Anne Hathaway) and two others, in an effort to find a new home for the human race.

It is safe to say that this movie would reach its intended audience, which is probably the majority of the human population on Earth. While that bit about wormholes and faraway galaxies is a bit of a stretch for the imagination of the average Joe, the feeling of panic and paranoia prevalent in a universe where life on Earth as we know it is about to prematurely end is something that anyone could easily relate to. This is exactly the reason why any movie focusing on the planet’s eventual doom tends to make a killing at the box office. This movie will get there, eventually.

In terms of acting, McConaughey serves as the anchor of the film, and does his best to express the flurry of emotions required for a father torn between saving his children vis-à-vis the entire human race. No one would want to be in his position in times like this, seriously, and his struggle manages to transcend the screen somehow. Hathaway is relegated to supporting once again and is most often than not reduced to a talking encyclopedia spewing out words of astronomic mumbo jumbo. Grown-up Murphy (Jessica Chastain) gets more depth in terms of characterization, and probably makes up for the lack of character development with regard to the role of women in this movie.

Over all, the concept is interesting enough to pull you in, or at least pique your curiosity. There are many confusing elements, though, such as the concept of relative time. There is a scene where they spend around an hour or two on that planet with the killer waves, and then when they went back to the space station, 23 years have already passed them by. This issue of relativity is just hard to grasp because the passing of time seems to be subjective most of the time.

If you put a theater lover and a theater hater through two hours of a stage musical, the former would think that time passed by so quickly while the latter would feel like it took forever. In the end, though, it would be clear that both of them spent two hours in total. This is definitely not the concept of relativity in the film as far as time is concerned. This is something more hardcore which would entail a lot of Wikipedia backreading after you exit the cinema.

The real bonus here would be Nolan’s version of the universe. Cuarón already gave us a good glimpse of the world beyond in last year’s Gravity. Nolan takes us farther; making us all feel as though we have ventured to the far reaches of space ourselves. This is why the movie is still tolerable despite all the hardcore concepts that are just difficult to comprehend. The film is one big visual spectacle which would leave your inner nerd in awe.

You have to give it to Nolan when it comes to films that you just cannot watch if you leave your brain at the door. It could even be argued that your brain would not suffice to understand this movie. What he does here is a fusion of science and philosophy, but he has done his best to cinematically portray such hard-to-fathom concepts in a way that it could be palatable to the common moviegoer.

We all had to sit through Physics class to learn about relativity and quantum mechanics, and we all know what mind fuck that entails. In fairness to Nolan, he tries to simplify the concept, but you’d still end up lost somewhere between Saturn and Planet X. Even so, this movie would be just like Inception. You are bound to talk about it with your friends for the weeks to come, because there are just too many questions left to discuss!


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