Interstellar unites 3 universals = Science + Emotion + Philosophy
I think Intersellar (2014) is worth your time, if only to see how Christopher Nolan balances science, emotion, and philosophy, while invoking Stanley Kubrick at the same time. I still believe Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is about nothing, but it doesn’t spend one minute of its time on the scientific theory that pervades Intersellar. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Intersellar IS about something, as you can tell from my title. However, the difficulty lies in balancing these three things. In Kubrick’s case, he just leaves out the emotion, so it’s easy for him, so Nolan’s efforts seem more difficult by comparison.
The science in this movie is very well presented. I like the way they did things. American theoretical physicist Kip Thorne was on the production staff, which may account for the realism. At 160 million, the effects are amazing, although I was half expecting something “trippy” straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Instead, black holes come from Thorne’s brainy calculations and spaceships zip silently through space like those in Gravity.
Scientists not only explain things like wormholes, but tell us what they might look like in our reality. We all know the pencil through the piece of paper trick to explain how a wormhole works. This exact explanation is in Event Horizon (1997), and Nolan completely rips it off for his movie, including the dialogue. That’s okay though, because I guess anything new would be too difficult or unfamiliar.
The science does have holes in it, but they are masked by philosophy. A mysterious force leads Matthew McConaughey’s daughter to the secrets of the universe and him along with it, but many of the finer details are left up for debate. Time travel sticklers will probably have a field day with this one, but that’s half the fun. This movie is pure science fiction. This movie is what the genre of science fiction is all about and that’s great. I love that. Many of the scientific theories are hotly debated and still being researched today.
The peaks and valleys in this movie are extraordinary. There are at least two climax points I can think of and many more emotional moments for the characters to sob over. Matthew McConaughey is not battling an evil AI, as in 2001, but pretty much battles humanity itself and humanity’s weaknesses. Luckily, he’s a good pilot, so he throttles past a lot of these weaknesses through sheer force of will, using the strong emotional connections he made two hours prior. Matthew McConaughey gives a good performance and all of the movie’s drama rings with true emotion.
Speaking of ringing, the movie is friggin loud and hurt my ears. It is beautiful in IMAX, but it’s too loud. Much of the sound telegraphs how you’re supposed to feel, and I did, but I didn’t need to see a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book to know that Matthew McConaughey is facing a grand mystery. The movie borders on pretentiousness at that point, and veers all over the place as it explores huge ideas. However, “they” are never identified, in the same way the reasons for the blight are never explained or how Matthew McConaughey was rescued while sitting in the middle of nowhere next to Saturn. We can only assume.
Unlike in Kubrick’s WHOLE movie, Nolan explains a lot of things from beginning to end, but I guess my assumption is everything is our doing. We built the wormwhole. We caused the blight. “They” apparently must be us. I like Nolan’s themes of humanity struggling with destiny and the need for self-control. Those are understated, but very well done. Everything else is explained ad-nauseum.
All in all, this movie is worth seeing and well-done. It has some touching and wonderful-looking moments. I don’t think the pace dragged too much, but it does explain a lot of things, the opposite of what 2001 does. The realistic concepts are great in this movie, such as the use of robots, wormholes, and the force of gravity. Overall, I think Interstellar only reinforces how much of a visual masterpiece 2001 is, but Interstellar has a lot more humanity. I think both movies have similar goals: someday, humans could master space and time, if only to unite art and Einstein.