When all these astrophysics guys and girls try to explain their bamboozling theories the brain hurts. An endless universe, black holes that destroy everything (including information itself) and the fact that the same single atom can briefly exist in two places at once (one in your left finger right now could well be in a grain of sand on a Barbados beach) is pretty terrifying and insane stuff to think about. This is why man created God and film directors. They did not have the answers on the huge questions to settle the masses discomfort back then. But if the universe is endless then anything is possible on probability alone, especially if there are worm holes out there. Even God. But for me the only sure fact we know is humans are real and alive today and their technology skills are growing very quickly and so highly feasible that a future version of us are most likely to have created our own universe as is now. If there is other life out there then where is it? If it’s near the center of the universe it’s less likely to be as developed as us and so unlikely to have arrived. But in the older galaxies further out, and so more likely to be advanced, they have also coughed up nothing with what you would think would be far more advanced technologies saying hi. It makes you wonder if it takes an endless timeless universe like ours to create just one Earth like ours.
Given all that wondrous mystery that bewilders us all its no surprise the best film directors out there have had their go at explaining it all in the multiplexes, the best place for it. Chris ‘Batman’ Nolan is in the creative hot seat this time around with Interstellar, 2014’s big Science Fiction movie. It’s similar mind warping stuff as his dreamscape movie Inception and looks as fabulous as his Batmen movies on the big screen. Nolan claims he was authentic as possible regarding the theoretical science within currant physical laws in the film but got a tap on the shoulder by men with beards and white coats he was consulting on the plot when he tried to have something travel faster than time. We do know that’s not possible, as we also know that a space ship would probably be crushed to the size of a pinhead if it attempted to pass through a wormhole, the central ideal of Interstellar.
The film marks the sixth appearance in a Christopher Nolan movie of Michael Caine playing that now familiar wise and avuncular old geezer he does these days, and the film also part of the ‘McConaissance’, the rebirth of phlegmatic romcom actor Mathew McConaughey, winning that surprise Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club last year. I saw him in a low budget film called Mud and you could see there was more to him than leaning on a lamppost on DVD covers with a pretty girl. Nolan also saw that movie and cast him for Interstellar because of. He is very good in all three movies and now A-List.
Interstellar, based on the idea by science dude Kip Thorne, is a Hollywood ‘end of the world’ movie that explores Earths eventually extinction due to global warming through the so-called Dust Bowl theory. Not much time is spent on explaining how that came about in the film and so I am none the wiser, other than there are a lot more dust storms as farm land becomes arid. Nuclear war remains the biggest threat to the end of the world in our lifetimes but we are constantly kept fearful by our governments by all manner of global threats to keep is buying things to make us feel happy and safe. In the 1930s there was indeed a dust bowl crisis in America but that one wasn’t put down to man made global warming. In fact 30 years after that crisis the scientific consensus was a coming Ice Age.
• Matthew McConaughey as Cooper
• Anne Hathaway as Dr. Amelia Brand
• David Gyasi as Dr. Romilly
• Wes Bentley as Dr. Doyle
• Bill Irwin as robot TARS (voice and puppetry) and CASE (puppetry)
• Josh Stewart as robot CASE (voice)
• Jessica Chastain as Murphy "Murph" Cooper
• Mackenzie Foy as young Murphy
• Ellen Burstyn as elderly Murphy
• Michael Caine as Dr. John Brand
• Casey Affleck as Tom Cooper, Murphy's brother
• Timothée Chalamet as young Tom
• John Lithgow as Donald, Cooper's father-in-law
• Leah Cairns as Lois Cooper, Tom's wife
• Topher Grace as Getty, a NASA doctor who is Murphy's boyfriend
• Matt Damon as Dr. Mann
Earth has survived a near disastrous food crisis by overpopulation but now has another fail, blight, the soil too dry from endless global droughts and producing pestilence, Earth reduced to an agrarian society where farming is the priority now to stay alive.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a retired astronaut and pilot, works the land like most people, growing maze and corn on the Iowa planes. The wife has died a while back and he now lives with his young daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy), older son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and step dad Donald (John Lithgow). They all miss mom and have their own ways of dealing with it, Murph claiming mom’s spirit lives in her bedroom and knocks books off the shelf and things on the floor to let her know she watches over her.
When the farming machinery goes haywire it appears there may well be something supernatural going on here after all, strange binary patterns of dust on Murphy’s bedroom floor appearing to be GPS coordinates, of which Cooper and Murphy checkout. What they find is amazing, a NASA facility hidden deep underground. Inside they are frisked and learn of the Lazarus rocket missions, a plan to try and find new planets out there to start over as Earth dies. But these planets that could be colonized are not local, a worm hole appearing in Saturn’s rings 48 years ago and NASA slingshoting previous Lazarus missions across the space time continuum to a galaxy zillions of miles away near to the black hole Gargantua, where brilliant NASA scientist Dr. John Brand (Michael Caine) believes their new home lurks.
Brand’s beautiful daughter and chief science astronaut Amelia (Anne Hathaway) is looking for pilots for the final mission, Endurance, and Cooper bang up for saving the world, Bruce Willis style. But the mission will take many years and his kids will be all grown up when he returns, if he returns. Any mistakes on the other side of the wormhole could be catastrophic, an hour too long on one planet and twenty years of time elapsed back home for the 30 minute mistake. He will receive updates from his family on the voyage but an extremely selfish decision he is taking on a mission that has little chance of success.
In orbit the crew board a rotating space station, their home for the two year journey to Saturn, then slip through the wormhole to God knows where. Here Cooper must make decisions that could save mankind as they investigate previous missions and new planets. Others on the ship not are 100% in agreement with t eir bombastic captain.
Cooper: We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.
Its classic Sci-Fi hokum but well done. Its way too long but you just don’t notice as the film moves along nicely taking tremendous liberties and falling down more plot holes than black holes. Ok, it takes an hour for it go get going in the way M Knight Shyamalen ‘Signs’ did to set up the family dynamic but you just go with it. Chris Nolan is one of those interesting and intelligent directors that make likewise movies and it’s an event movie when he does. The same way you were sucked into the extremely engrossing and mind twisting Inception there are similar levers pulled here.
It’s a big sky movie in every senese and I believe the biggest ever gross on Imax screens, 60% of the early gross coming from people preferring to see the bigger picture, intellectually and visually, if you excuse the pun. For its $165 million, a relatively average budget for a massive summer blockbuster, it looks good and the spinning worm hole and space station sequence having people falling out of the stalls in the cinema with giddiness apparently. Imagine being sucked into a worm hole in an Imax cinema!
It did fabulous money with $872 million banked to date and shamelessly borrows heavily from previous Science fiction classics - Event Horizon, Gravity and Kubrick’s bonkers masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey seriously looted. But I like directors that accept what they want to do well on screen has already been done better and so why not copy it? The best form of flattery, as that saying goes, winning the Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for that magpie behavior. Its great soundtrack also received two nominations from The Academy and would win The Golden Globe for Best Score.
As I say not a great deal of money is spent on an apocalyptic real time Earth as everyone drives around in 2013 pickups in 2012 Levis and you wouldn’t know it anything had happened, or about to, bar the odd dust storm. But once we get into space and our teeth into the complex time warping premise of the movie we are on the move and Mathew McConaughey takes over with his delicious folksy southern drawl and mischievous smile. He really does carry the movie well. Everyone else is just lost in the vacuum of space.
The heart of the movie is more about the relationship between father and daughter and the time twisting metaphor around that may have you shaking your head a bit but that’s what movies are supposed to be about. A bit of intelligent unreality on screen is good for our humdrum lives. This movie won’t register as one of the great Sci-Fi’s but it does make you think and hope at the same time as you know we are probably the only ones in this vast black void and we will bugger up the planet soon.
Imdb.com – 8.8/10.0 (560,298votes)
Rottentomatos.com –72% critic’s approval
Metacriitc.com – 74% critic’s approval
SKY MOVIES SCI-FI & HORROR is a movie channel available as part of the 'Movies Mix' on the Sky Digital satellite television platform in the UK. The channel is not available as a standalone, and the cost of the 'Movies Mix' is dependent on the other channels the viewer subscribes to. Personally I pay £34 per month for both the 'Variety Mix' and the 'Movies Mix' whereas the 'Variety Mix' alone would cost me £16 per month. I am therefore paying £18 each month the privilege of receiving all of the Sky Movies channels.
I really like science fiction and horror movies and so this is a channel that I particularly like to view. Some of the treats coming up in the near future include:
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING
This is a prequel to the relatively recent remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I have seen that remake and although it was not a patch on the original I did enjoy it so I am looking forward to seeing the prequel. The film stars Jordana Brewster and Taylor Handley and was directed by Jonathan Liebesman.
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE
As those of you who read my reviews will know, I already have this, the first Star Trek movie, on DVD. I do love it though so I am sure that I will catch it again when it comes around on this channel. The film was directed by Robert Wise and features all of the regular crew of the starship Enterprise.
A disaster movie about an asteroid heading for the Earth. I haven't seen this one before (or I don't remember it at least) so am looking forward to seeing it. The film stars Morgan Freeman as the President of the USA, and was directed by Mimi Leder. Also appearing is Robert Duvall, one of my favourite actors of all time.
If you like science fiction and horror movies then this is definitely a channel you should subscribe to.