J A Garrett

Curiously nerdy posts.

Interstellar – It’s not impossible, it’s necessary.

Hi, I’m JA Garrett. I love movies, even if I don’t write about them nearly as often as I do books. I guess that’s usually because I feel like I don’t really need to tell you how great X movie is, because compared to the literary world, you have tons of easy, great resources to tell you what’s good and what isn’t.

I suppose, then, that by my own metric, I’ll be wasting my own time by talking about Interstellar. But nonetheless, I feel that it’s necessary.

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan since watching Memento in High school. I’ve seen all of his movies. None of them are bad, they’re just various degrees of good. One thing you can always rely on when you see a movie with his name on it, is that it’s going to be simple and straightforward on plot, but it will take elaborate and extravagant means to tell that story. And it’s a worthwhile ride every time.

I don’t usually hype myself up for movies, but I couldn’t really help it with this one. When I saw the trailer while sitting and waiting to watch another movie, I found myself going “Yeah, okay… a space movie trying to be realistic. Those are almost always boring. Meh.” “… Christopher Nolan is directing!? Okay, fine. You got me. I’ll go see it.”

So, was it worthwhile? Yes. The real question you should be asking yourself is… to what degree is it worthwhile?

What I liked:

The plot. This movie is centered around ideas, concepts, and creativity almost as vast as space itself. And yet, when you boil it down to one or two sentences, the movie is all about humanity. It’s certainly tempting to compare it to Inception, given that from the outside, both stories seem to center around a father going to incredible lengths to take care of his children. But whereas Cobb in Inception is doing everything for his kids, Cooper is a much different character.

It’s still weird seeing him in serious roles. And actually wearing shirts.

You can get the feeling from the beginning that Cobb is frustrated with his life, even though evidently some of his failures aren’t necessarily his fault. He rails at the local school board for placing his son in farming classes. He resents having to do work that he is dramatically overqualified for. He drinks every night, staring at the night sky. By the time the plot is revealed, we see a man who would probably decide to leave for space just to get another chance at flying and exploring, the things he truly loves – the fact that he is doing it to preserve mankind is just kind of a nice bonus. As he tells Murph before he leaves, “I can’t be your ghost yet”. It’s only later that the significance and irony of this phrase is truly realized.

But as he finds himself in deep space, and watches his children grow up as he sleeps on a mobile space station, you can see the sudden shift in his priorities. Every minute away feels precious to him, and you can suddenly see him as a guy who desperately wants to finish the mission as quickly as possible so he can simply go back home to that corn field he hated so much. And that’s when the devastating effect of the realities of space travel come to roost.

I also really liked the subplot about survival instinct overruling everything else in the human brain, even if I saw the outcome coming a mile away. It was necessary. It was really important to show that no matter the scope of the setting, human beings are still petty and selfish creatures. I can’t really say more without spoiling things, and I refuse to do that at this point in time.

The science. This movie relies on some very heavy scientific principles, specifically in relation to Einstein’s theories. Relativity of time, for one. But even more importantly, the curvature of space. I’m not an astrophysicist, so I won’t even try to go into detail to explain it here. But it’s all accurately observed, at least moreso than any other space film I’ve ever seen. And even better, it doesn’t take forever to stop and explain the science to an audience that, by and large, wouldn’t have grasped it even if it was all explained in agonizing detail.

All the movie does is explain the stuff that you really need to know.

-It takes a while to get anywhere in space. As in, two years to get just to Saturn, and that is WAY faster than anything NASA has done in reality, to my knowledge.

-Planet orbiting a massive planetary body that has a much stronger gravitational field than earth? Time will pass much more slowly there. As in this case, an hour equals 7 years on Earth.

It’s that simple. No massive exposition, a la Inception, and you can immediately keep up with the story. I think that was a great call.

The effects. Some of the visuals in this movie are simply jaw dropping, especially when you realize that they used very little CGI at all. This movie does a great job at showing just how massive space really is. It’s terrifying, to be honest.

A black hole. Stay away from these.

What I didn’t like:

The audio at times. By that, I do NOT mean the score was bad. The score is amazing, as Hans Zimmer’s scores usually are. No, there’s just some moments in the movie where the dialogue is completely drowned out by the sound and music. The worst point was at a MAJOR twist in the plot, where a character is confessing something titanically huge, and my wife and I could barely hear it. I only figured it out contextually by the message in the next scene. I understand the score is amazing, but it really should’ve done its job in the background instead of messing with the audio.

Eric Forman in the climax. Yes, I know his name is Topher Grace. Yes, it’s funnier to reference his sitcom character. For some reason, during the climatic scene where everything is being figured out, but another character is in peril, he just stands there and yells for them to come get in the car, rather than, you know, actually going and grabbing them. Was just a bit lazy. A minor quibble, to be sure, but the way this scene was edited makes him look really dumb.

The Verdict:

This isn’t so much a movie you watch purely to be entertained. You watch it to be mentally engaged, to think hard on humanity’s place in the universe, and to what is truly important in life. I didn’t watch it so much because I was really excited about it and wanted to.

No, I did because it was necessary. And I’m really glad I did.

 

*****.

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2014 by in Movies, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , .
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