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Movie Night – 'Interstallar' brings bold, massive scope to screen (Nov. 26, 2014 issue)

By Bradley Griffith
How do I even begin to describe a movie so bold, so audacious and massive in scope? Let’s start this way: the Earth is dying. Great dust storms are common, everything and everyone is covered in varying thicknesses of dust. Most crops will no longer grow, corn is the only exception, and it may not last much longer.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former NASA pilot. He is an explorer, a man of action. He is now a farmer, because pilots are no longer needed. Crops are needed, food is needed. Many people have become farmers in an attempt to squeeze out the few remaining nutrients in the Earth.
Cooper has a teenage son, Tom (Timothee Chalamet), and a 10-year-old daughter, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy). Tom is a natural born farmer and he loves it. Murphy is more like her dad, inquisitive and adventurous.
Cooper and Murphy decode a message from an unknown person via a trick of gravity directing them to a location many miles from their home. Naturally, they set off to locate the coordinates. What they find is fairly shocking. NASA, thought to have been long abandoned as too expensive, is operating covertly in the middle of nowhere.
What’s even more shocking is the project that NASA has been working on for years. They believe that the Earth cannot be saved, that it’s beyond repair. Instead, they have been looking for a new home, a new Earth. Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) are planning a mission, an expedition to another galaxy. A wormhole has opened near Saturn and they intend to travel through the wormhole to explore that solar system for habitable planets. All they need is a pilot.
Cooper is the best pilot who ever worked NASA. But he doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t want to leave his family. Professor Brand convinces him that without this expedition there will be no Earth, no future for Tom or Murphy. Cooper reluctantly agrees to pilot the expedition.
Before he leaves for another galaxy Cooper tries to square things with his kids. Tom understands, but Murphy refuses to accept Cooper’s decision to leave. She feels like she is being abandoned. Cooper promises Murphy that he will return, but she refuses to forgive him for leaving. Revealing anything more about the plot may ruin the movie, I fear I have already said too much.
The sheer scope of the movie is breathtaking. The views of our solar system and beyond are worth the price of admission. I can’t vouch for the science of the movie, but the theories of wormholes, black holes, and distortion of time are fascinating. “Interstellar” makes you think on a grand scale, on a universal scale.
Of the many subjects in the movie two themes stand out. First is the assertion that we can never stop pushing the bounds of human knowledge and exploration of the known, and unknown, universe. Space may actually be the final frontier, but we haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s out there. The second theme is more terrestrial. The relationship between Cooper and Murphy drives the entire film, provides the motivation for Cooper to find a new Earth, and gives him a reason to fight to risk everything to make it back to Earth. The love between a father and daughter knows no boundaries, no limitations.
Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan has a knack for bringing original ideas to the screen or looking at the world from a different perspective. He has a unique vision for his films that no other director today can match. All of his films are brilliant, and “Interstellar” is no exception. Nolan is not just a director or a screenwriter, he is a filmmaker in the truest sense of the word.
Sure, the movie is too long (2 hours and 49 minutes) and the ending is not all I hoped it would be. But, while many things about the current state of Hollywood are uncertain, you can count on one thing: Christopher Nolan will never let you down. “Interstellar” is filmmaking at its best.
Grade: A
Rated PG-13 for some intense perilous action and brief strong language.