Interstellar impresses with strong visuals, grand scale

By Preman Koshar, Layout Assistant ||

“Space. The Final Frontier.” These are the opening lines of Star Trek, and Interstellar finally shows audiences just what that means and how magnificent space can be. Space is the explorer’s dream come true, and Interstellar, directed by the ever-masterful Christopher Nolan, evokes that wanderlust like no other film I’ve seen.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a pilot/engineer turned farmer in the supposed near-future of the Midwest. Dust storms and multiple blights have led to a food shortage, and corn is one of the last viable crops that humanity can grow — but it’s suspected that it, too, will die off in the coming decades. After some unusual phenomena that leads Cooper to the last NASA research facility, he is asked to go on a mission through a wormhole to find a new habitable planet for humans to call home. Unfortunately, this means that he will be gone for a long time — years, if not decades — and will only be able to contact his children, Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and Tom (Timothée Chalamet), intermittently at best. Cooper must ultimately decide whether or not his personal life and his family are worth the extinction of the human race. As the film is entitled Interstellar, he decides to go on the voyage and to attempt to save humanity.

In this film, the cinematography and the visuals are almost synonymous. The cinematography, performed by Hoyte Van Hoytema (yes, that really is his name), is superb. Every shot is fluid, and graceful arcs, long cinematic shots, and seamless transitions fill every scene. Many of the shots are done from the perspective of being inside the spaceship looking out, and this only furthers the experience of space travel. The audience is often “inside” the ship, and the sense of momentum and emptiness that space invokes is powerful. With the possible exception of Gravity, this is the most visually dynamic and experientially intense film I have ever seen. However, this may be biased, as it is one of the few films that I have had the opportunity to see in IMAX.

The acting is also of high caliber, and McConaughey doesn’t disappoint. While it may not earn him an Oscar, it is definitely one of his better performances, and the father-daughter bond is beautifully constructed, as well as deeply felt. The other actors, however, do seem to fall by the wayside, and their emotions are not nearly as articulated as McConaughey’s are. The early scenes of the film, showing Cooper’s bond to his family, are emotionally strong, but they consistently felt a little off somehow. A little too forced, perhaps. But this is a minor blip in an otherwise fabulous movie, and the emotions feel real again as the story
progresses.

Interstellar’s plot is captivating, and there is truly never a dull moment. The end of the film is a bit muddled, logically, but I’m still not sure if my confusion is due to poor writing, or if it is just over my head. Interstellar is such a smart film it seems unlikely that the end is poorly written, but I have yet to completely understand it.

The dialogue is not particularly remarkable, but it is not deficient in any way. This is a visual film; dialogue is not of great importance. The little humor that is interjected into Interstellar is well done, and is a great example of skillful comic relief. The score, composed by Hans Zimmer, is well suited to a space opera such as this. While at times the tone is a bit strong, almost pompous in its profundity, it never truly feels out of place, as space is one setting where sound can never truly be overdone.

Overall, Interstellar is a space epic of the highest order. While the emotions and sound occasionally were a little out of place, and the plot a little confusing, it ultimately doesn’t matter that much. Interstellar is, in a word, powerful: emotionally, intellectually, and, most of all, experientially. But Interstellar’s true power is its ability to incite wonder in the vast world that exists around us. I left the theater wishing that I could have been on that voyage and experienced the wonders and terrors that they encountered. Interstellar is not only deep — it’s profound. It instills wonder like no other film ever has. When I was little and got in trouble, my grandmother would threaten to “send me to the moon.” Now I wish I had let her.

First-year Preman Koshar is a
layout assistant. His email is pkoshar@fandm.edu.

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