Monday, November 10, 2014

Through the Wormhole

Watching Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar this past weekend – in IMAX, as the man intended us to – I couldn’t help but wonder (as the film got going, during, and after): Can I pass an opinion on a film that deals with something I don’t completely get?

The answer? Yes! Especially when it’s such a production. Who really cares if Nolans latest, most epic offering concerns itself with the absolutely mind-boggling subjects of time travel and wormholes, with and gravity and relativity, and even with the weight that love ought to hold over science (and pivotal decision-making processes).

Right? A lack of understanding cannot and should not get in the way of admiring what he and his screenwriting partner-brother Jonathan have dreamt up, thankyouverymuch.

It would be silly to let that happen.

Sure, it is all super-complicated and makes for a super-convoluted plot, and there’s even talk of a tesseract toward the end there (um, hello, is this a Marvel movie?!), but it is all rather quite marvelous to behold.

And to hear (more on that in a moment).


Matthew McConaughey, fresh off his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club, stars in Interstellar, as Cooper, a former test pilot for NASA who, in the unspecified future in which the story is set, now makes a living for his teenaged son and his tweenaged daughter (Mackenzie Foy, from The Twilight Saga) and his father-in-law working as a farmer.

This future is like, hella bleak. Life on Earth is totally about to expire, on account of a barely touched-upon but appropriately terrible-sounding something called the Blight. Here’s the gist of it: Humans, in their infinite wisdom, have done a number on the planet, and now that food is in short supply and these massive dust storms scour the land, Murph’s generation (that’d be Cooper’s daughter, btw) will probably be the last to, y’ know...make it.

Now, Murph is a curious little thing. A smart young girl who grows up to be played by Jessica Chastain and to serve as our the key we’ll need to try and begin to wrap our heads around any sort of explanation for everything that goes down throughout the almost-three-hour film.

Murph has come to think that there’s some sort of ghost living in her bedroom, an entity she perceives as friendly that’s trying to communicate with her for some reason by knocking over books off her shelf. Together with Cooper, she deciphers a message that leads him to a top-secret NASA bunker and, quickly thereafter, to a leave-his-family-behind spacefaring mission with Anne Hathaway’s savvy Dr. Brand to save all of mankind by venturing through a mysterious wormhole that has popped up near Saturn to find us another planet in which we could survive.

FYI: Frequent Nolan star Michael Caine plays Brand’s father and the mastermind behind this reach-for-the-stars plan (which also involves a kept-under wraps A-Lister). And what a tremendous plan it is! I mean, it – you shall/will very well see – involves going through dimensions and s--- and also....

Who am I kidding. I cannot begin to explain it.

What happens is som’in’ beyond comprehension, yet som’in’ that you’ve gotta see. Better that way. I can’t begin to describe it. Mostly ’cause, remember, I don’t get the science behind it. But I do get the emotion of it all, and while the film boldly takes us way out there, McConaughey, Hathaway, and Chastain keep the stakes of the action firmly grounded on Earth. With heart.

Interstellar works as a stirring piece of film – Hans Zimmer should see someone about engraving his Academy Award for Best Score now. Its every other emotional note hits with great precision. But its big ideas (the film is based on the works of Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist)? Oy. They are too much too handle, I’m afraid.

Clever, if Nolan designed this one for repeat viewing, to boost his box office tally. But if he meant to serve up something easily somewhat digestible (and thus entertaining in the bestest, purest sense), he kinda sorta failed a little bit.

As beautiful as the film is, though, it ultimately feels like a big ol’ brain tease.

My Rating ***


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