MOVIES 'Interstellar' review | The Verge

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A really great review of the movie Interstellar

Text of MOVIES 'Interstellar' review | The Verge

  • From theopeningscenes ofsprawlingcornfields

    'Interstellar' reviewBy Josh Dzieza on October 27, 2014 12:07 pm ! @joshdzieza

    'Interstellar' review | The Verge

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  • accompanied by a revelrie-like brass note, its clear thatInterstellar is working in the tradition of 2001: A SpaceOdyssey. It has the grand scope of Kubricks classic,promising to take us from humanitys past to its distantfuture, and proceeds with the same stately pace thatencourages you to ponder the themes it offers along theway. It throws out plenty to think about the nature oftime and space, the place of humanity in the universe but somewhat unexpectedly for this type of film, and forChristopher Nolan, whose work tends toward the cerebral,it explores these ideas in human terms. Interstellar is asinterested in how general relativity would affect your familylife, for example, as it is in the theory itself.

    Before you proceed: this review has a few spoilers, butnothing beyond what youd glean from the preview andthe first ten minutes or so of film. Turn back now if youcare about that sort of thing.

    Directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Inception, themost recent Batman trilogy) and written with his brotherand frequent collaborator Jonathan, Interstellar takesplace in a near future that harkens back to the recent past like the 1950s Midwest or maybe the Dust Bowl, butwith laptops and drones. Theres very little exposition;through telling details and offhand comments, you get thesense that theres been an environmental disasterfollowed by a famine, and that humanity has scaled backits ambitions to bare subsistence. People farm corn theone crop left unravaged by blight watch baseballgames in half-empty stands, and flee towering haboob

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  • Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a NASA pilot whohas turned to farming like everyone else at the time, anodd cut to faux-documentary footage informs us. He livesin a ramshackle house, complaining to his father (JohnLithgow) about humanitys diminished horizons and dotingon his daughter Murph, played by Mackenzie Foy with abelievably teenage mix of mischief and exasperation.

    McConaughey eventually leaves Foy and Earth behind toscout out a new home for for the human race, but its theirrelationship that grounds the movie. As action-filled asNolans films are, they can sometimes feel abstract, likesymbolic sublimations of some offscreen mental trauma.So many of his characters get their motivation from someprior loss the dead wives from Memento and Inception,the dead parents of Batman that they then workthrough according to the game-like rules Nolan excels at,whether those rules are imposed by amnesia,consciousness, or a supervillain. But Foy is an actualcharacter, not a cipher, and the relationship between herand McConaughey gives the film an emotional heft thatNolans other work sometimes lacks.

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  • spinning white vessel often relegated to a corner of thescreen or lost against the rings of Saturn. The depiction ofa wormhole accomplishes the seemingly impossible andmakes, well, nothingness look dazzling, as light slidesand warps around it like water off a bubble of oil. Theblack hole is even more amazing. Present throughout themovie, its in these lingering shots of a tiny spacecraftfloating through the galaxy that the influence of KubricksSpace Odyssey is most clearly felt.

    SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFULIMAGES OF SPACE I'VE SEEN ONFILMNot that its all languorous drifting through the galaxy.Nolan has a genius for landscape-scale actionsequences, and the planets, with their alien weather andgravity, give him ample opportunity to stage them. Thecamera races and plunges and, especially in IMAX,creates classic theme-park pit-of-your-stomach thrills.There are gigantic waves, frozen clouds, and otherdangers that feel threatening despite looking totallysurreal.

    The biggest danger the shuttle crew faces, however, istime. Time isn't just running out it's compressing andstretching as they travel through space. The Nolans userelativity to create some original and urgent crises as theshuttle crew figures out how to best spend their shiftingtime. Time is a resource, like food or water, Hathawaywarns. The time differential between the crew and thosethey left behind also gives rise to the movies mostmelancholy scenes. In this respect it feels less like Space

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    passes and things go wrong back home.

    As in 2001, things get trippy toward the end. Withoutrevealing too much, I can say that after a series of mostlycomprehensible events, it swerves into either deeplytheoretical physics or sentimental spirituality. Possiblyboth. The shift is jarring, but also visually interestingenough that I mostly went with it.

    Theres always thequestion with Nolanof what it all means.His movies temptyou to demand a

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  • characters alwaysseem to be grasping for one. They talk almostaphoristically about the human condition, ghosts, time,evil, love, and other heavy but abstract things, and theyquote Dylan Thomas a few too many times. Fortunately,McConaughey brings some wry levity to the role, as doesthe robot TARS, a toppling metal block with adjustablehonesty and humor settings, voiced by Bill Irwin.Ultimately I took the grander bits of dialogue as thematicsignposts, telling you to keep your head at the level ofdeath and humanity and time but not meaning much inthemselves.

    Which is fine. The movie is most powerful when its at itsleast abstract when its working through the messydecisions and sacrifices that actual interstellar travelwould entail, finding dramatic potential in the laws ofphysics. Interstellar is sometimes confusing,melodramatic, and self-serious, but Nolan managed tomake a space epic on a human scale.

    Interstellar opens November 5th.


    'Interstellar' review | The Verge

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