Movie review: ‘Interstellar’
Directed By Christopher Nolan
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, David Gyasi, Ellen Burstyn, Matt Damon, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, William Devane
Voice of Bill Irwin
Rated PG-13, Sci-Fi, 169 minutes
After Christopher Nolan’s stunning “Memento” and his special mind-bender “Inception” I announced to everyone that, should Mr. Nolan ever appear in my orbit, I would demand a 24-hour pass from everyone and everything because I’d like to spend the entire time talking with the person I considered to the most fascinating thinker on the planet.
Nolan intrigues me because he makes complicated ideas seem simple and compelling. He uses those ideas to create plausible and thrilling universes and surrounds his concepts with engrossing mythology. Yes, his action sequences can be lackluster, his manner of bringing an idea to fruition slower than I’d like, but the final result is captivating and, more importantly, inspires my own thoughts and ideas.
We know earth’s end is only a matter of time. Providing we don’t exceed its human carrying capacity of 12 billion people or ruin our climate or deplete our oceans, it’s perhaps one to several million years before our sun is too hot to sustain life here. In “Interstellar,” Nolan asks what would happen to our species should our planet die in the very near future.
He foresees our atmosphere becoming toxic and food in short supply. In a generation or two, earth’s greatly reduced population will either starve or suffocate.
Therefore, it falls to a small band of intrepid explorers to navigate a wormhole appearing next to Saturn in search of habitable planets. Rather than science on display, the power of Nolan’s story comes from juxtaposing evil and altruistic intent and asking hard questions about personal sacrifice and whether ends ever justify means.
Because parts of the story unfold in a different, slower time-space continuum, what I most enjoyed about “Interstellar” is that it caused me consider the nature of time as it connects us to reality.
This happens because Nolan sends several astronauts (including Matthew McConaughey in fine reflective form and an oddly cast, but adequate, Anne Hathaway) to a planet near a black hole where the intense gravity slows and bends space-time.
Currently, many physicists believe our understanding of space-time is limited by our ability to perceive it only as a linear, forward-moving quantity. We lack both the power to comprehend and to manipulate time.
Arguably, we are able to manipulate it within our minds using our memories and imaginations. During any given day we bring our past experiences to bear on the present events. During that same day we imagine the consequences of our actions on tomorrow, next week or that carefully planned vacation a year from now. Our ability to imagine the future exerts a profound influence over many aspects of our lives. It persuades us to pay the bills to secure a comfortable place to live next month or as means to reach our future goals.
It is, then, perhaps a smaller leap than it seems to imagine a time when our continually developing brains will do more than simply play images in our heads and actually transport us into whatever time we might wish to visit.
These thoughts are not part of Nolan’s film but, rather, are the thoughts his film inspired me to consider as his plot constructed two parallel time frames. His setup was exceedingly slow, his conclusion unusually long-winded — the latter based more on wish fulfillment (for example, love as another dimension) than on science.
While I enjoyed many of the ideas on display here, I spent far too much time in my own head as the film meandered and attempted to force feelings and emotions from viewers that diminish the story’s effect.
“Interstellar” is still a good movie worth seeing, but, if you’re a Christopher Nolan acolyte, I think you’ll understand why I’ve decided a short luncheon might meet my needs.