SciFiNow Annual lists the Interstellar poster as one of the eight best movie posters of 2014. As far as I’m concerned, Interstellar is the best movie of 2014. I saw it last night and was absolutely blown away. I’m thinking it’s the best movie I’ve seen since Hunt For Red October (1990).
The movie begins in a 1930s-like midwest rural community (filmed in Alberta, Canada) in the future. Corn crops are failing year after year and the homes are full of dust. The folks keep masks in their vehicles in case of severe dust storms. The fields are full of corn but the soil is just blowing away. Earth is running out of time. Late 20th century space exploration is thought to have been a very successful propaganda exercise that bankrupted the Russians as they tried to keep up with NASA’s supposed space program. The Cooper family, Coop (Matthew McConaughey), father-in-law Donald, teenaged son Tom, and 10-year-old daughter Murph, farm in this community. Coop used to work for NASA as a pilot and engineer. Murph believes a ghost or poltergeist is trying to communicate with her.
During a particularly severe dust storm, Coop and Murph see a pattern in the dust on the floor of her bedroom and Coop realizes it’s a binary code giving them map coordinates. Following this lead, they find themselves in a secret, underground NASA installation headed by a figure well-known to Coop, Dr. Brand (Michael Caine). Three manned expeditions have been sent out through a wormhole to explore planets in another galaxy: the Lazarus missions. Coop and Dr. Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway), along with two other scientists are sent to retrieve the data and determine which planet, if any, would be an ideal environment to re-establish human life.
Of course, several problems occur. The first is that on the planet closest to the wormhole, one hour is the equivalent of 7 years on planet earth. All kinds of problems develop from that. Meanwhile, Murph, still with unresolved anger that her father has abandoned her, is now a scientist helping Dr. Brand try to solve the problem of how to send space stations full of humans through the wormhole using gravity. If only they could collect data from the wormhole as they pass through it, they might find the answer!
The shots of space are nothing short of spectacular. (I just realized tonight that I could have gone to a different theatre and seen it in iMax; will be going ASAP.) The special effects of travelling through the wormhole, the gigantic tsunami on the first planet, and the ice-covered mountains on a second are incredible, as is the representation of a 5-dimensional view of Coop’s house on earth. The spacecraft are great and of course, there are neat gimmicks like the hibernation chamber where the astronauts can conserve time and resources by “napping” for days, months, or even years. The computers that have been programmed to be honest 95% of the time (allowing for tact and discretion), have a 65% capacity for humour, and are able to retrieve people and devices quickly using their two “arms” in a windmill fashion, are pretty neat.
The acting is superb. McConaughey is a wonderful actor who portrays a caring, sensitive father, an extremely accomplished pilot daring to do the impossible when it is a necessity, and ready to sacrifice himself to the greater cause. He is one of the few people who doesn’t age during the movie.
The three actresses who play his daughter, Murph, are all excellent. Mackenzie Foy plays Murph as a ten-year-old, very attached to her father (her mother died; a bit vague as to how long ago), very intelligent, tracking the evidence of the “ghost”, and angry, bitter, and confused when her dad insists on going into space and abandoning her. Jessica Chastain, who plays the adult Murph, still clearly has issues with dad but is working with Dr. Brand to support the effort to save the people on Earth. And finally, Ellen Burstyn, who plays the dying Murph on a space colony at the end of the movie. All of them are excellent.
There are many other actors who contribute immensely to the drama but you must go and see this movie for yourself. My only complaint would be that there are quite often whispered scenes in which I found the music too loud for me to hear everything that was said. In spite of that, it was a fantastic movie. See it in iMax if you can, but see it! * * * * *