Interstellar movie, it didn't look all that interesting. But when critics started raving about it I began to think we might have, at long last, a science fiction offering that would add some serious original thinking to the genre. It has been a while since I'd felt that kind of anticipation waiting to see a film, and when I did I was not disappointed, at least with respect to the film-going experience. The overall production was really great - the beautiful space-scapes, the dramatic performances, especially from Matthew McConaughey, and the interesting and well written script, with a good balance of plot, character development, and action. I was often on the edge of my seat. Of course, what got me most excited as I watched along was that there was a bonafide effort to provide scientific credibility to the events on screen, which is what makes science fiction so fun. In many ways, Nolan attempted to achieve some of what made 2001 great, and on that count, I'd say he made a "stellar" effort, but nowhere near on par with Kubrick's classic. Still, he left a lot to talk about, and so I just had to write on it.
<<spoilers below this point>>
I'll start with the good stuff, but please note the spoiler alert if you still plan to see it because I don't think it would have the same impact with too much advance info. The premise of the whole story is one that I have not seen treated realistically before. I think the scenario that creates a dying planet would be something involving rising global temperatures or ozone depletion which make it impossible to grow food in quantity, etc. Although they did not convey that very well, and I would be inclined to believe more firmly in human ingenuity to solve such problems, the basic concept is credible enough to provide a basis for the story. I liked the interview Cooper had with the school showing how a global plight on the scale of generations would start to re-shape the values of society. Could they have illustrated that without postulating a re-think of the moon landings? I'm not sure.
One of the most striking new creations in the film was the treatment of the TARS and CASE robots. The way the film introduced them and all their capabilities was perfect, as if it was just normal course of business for everyone but the audience. The mechanical design was very original - just rectangular cylinders with apparently movable hinges. Only a computer could coordinate such bulky parts with such precision. Watching it turn into a rolling wheel to get across the water was amazing. And I believe that they correctly predicted that the human-machine interface of the future would include personality settings like humor, honesty, and discretion. I don't think we've seen a robot become a serious character that convincingly since the HAL9000.
ergosphere to see inside, is again a clever idea but let's be real, if it was just a matter of hidden data, it wouldn't be that hard to come by.
Another odd item in the script department was how they played up Dr. Mann, the original expedition leader, as being such a noble, inspiring person, and then when they find him he turns out to be the most despicable and cowardly character in the film. I suppose you could argue that if a coward knew the human race was doomed, he would jump at the chance to be one of the only twelve people to save their own skin. Either way it made for a great plot twist. The subsequent scene where he ruined their mother ship prompting Cooper to dock while spinning and descending toward the planet was not only a cliff-hanger but one of the most stunning space visuals in the film. Watch it here (full) or here (music only) if it hasn't been removed yet. Despite all the flaws, I think sci-fi fans will find this film enjoyable not only because it was well executed, but because it gave more respect to real science than most do.
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