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Interstellar Feature

Interstellar Feature

Shrouded in secrecy during years of development way back when applauded director Steven Speilberg was attached to direct in 2006, now with global anticipation, the outer galaxy epic Interstellar is finally arriving on cinema screens. When the cryptic first trailer appeared a year ago, few knew what to make of it. Matthew McConaughey walking around a cornfield with his young daughter then launching off into space.

Now, upon release there is still minimal direct screenplay information out there but the premise of a black hole with time travel may be evident. The first thing I wanted to do when it finished was immediately see it again, just go back in, three rows from the front and relive the better than sex experience as I felt with Fight Club back in 1999.

Without giving any surprises of this amazing spectacle away, Interstellar is a true event film, something cinema lacks in this modern era. Going to the movies is still a celebration for me but movies like Cleopatra, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia and Gone with the Wind are event films of the past. Usually complete with overture entry music, intermission and exit fanfare, an unforgettable trip to the picture show that leaves you exhausted long after the curtains close. Doctor Zhivago benefitted from the same sweeping distinction. Interstellar is a thundering showcase of all movies have to offer – the closest thing to that kind of memorable sci-fi escapism at the cinema in some time – and I see absolutely everything.

Loosely based on the physicist writings of Kip Thorn whose works also inspired another out of this galaxy saga with Jodie Foster discovering alien life in Contact. Whether Nolan ignores the laws of physics in his script is beside the point when it comes to entertainment and drama inducing plot-points. Recent best actor Oscar recipient McConaughey plays Cooper, a pilot given a mission to explore a newly discovered wormhole in order to assist in a new life or maintain human future generations to survive. The world is a literal dust-storm, an ecological nightmare, Cooper believes his beloved daughter is part of the final generation of humanity unless something changes. Finding a new outer limits home or a preventive way to survive is the only option with team led by Cooper sent to check out this solar system abnormality. Space stations roll by, asteroids, visionary shots of the blue planet and potential unknown obstacles proving dangerous.

If some of this sounds familiar, your memory may be reverting to images of one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey, something that Interstellar, unashamedly pays homage to throughout more than once.

Christopher Nolan, maestro director behind the mind-bending mayhem of Inception and Memento, spins an equally confusing story broadening logistical solutions or reality in order to dazzle viewers into second guessing what they have just seen. 2001 director, the late Stanley Kubrick, who was once accused of staging the moon landing in a sound stage, would be proud of Nolan’s canvas including the use or non-use of the score from Hans Zimmer.

Like 2001, silence evokes as much as anticipation that a full orchestra in unison can elevate a scene. Another film full of 2001 definitive comparisons, Gravity, had the same procedure, using the dead silence of space and the sound of gasps within a space suit with cliffhanging effect.

The Black Hole was a classic Disney flop, an attempt to attract the Star Wars crowd in the late 70s is actually a decent adventure film which has held up, if still a little clunky when watched today.

Worm holes is another term for the phenomenon used and have been depicted in many movies including the unlikely Donnie Darko, where our dream like anti hero wakes after a crash landing aircraft motor drops into his bedroom. This bizarreness of traveling into parallel dimensions made Darko a cult hit highlighting intriguing unconventional scriptwriting, made a star of Jake Gyllenhaal and a chance to see Patrick Swayze as a bad guy in one of his final roles.

2001: A Space Odyssey had the ultimate of worm holes, a lucid sequence which the free-loving recreational drug loving hippy crowd enjoyed the most when the film was first released on unsuspecting audiences in 1968. Interstellar could be argued to involved equally abstract moments all to endure a sense of new world discovery the same way Kubrick did.

Memories, Speilberg’s own Close Encounters of the Third Kind, also came to mind while technical babble in the screenplay may make legit scientists shudder, I’m not sure, but it all flows into Interstellar gold.

Beside Matthew is an array of solid co-stars, Anne Hathaway is more than just the female sidekick, flame haired Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) holds fort on ground in a diminishing earth atmosphere, while Michael Caine pops up with words of wisdom in an authoritative way only he knows how to deliver. Replacing the digital option, Nolan used old school 35mm film with especially made IMAX cameras for certain scenes the same way the golden era of Hollywood filmed their epics in 70mm format.

With the award season looming, nominations are imminent. I applaud the high secrecy around production, Interstellar has a pulse, it’s a positively exciting cinematic journey unlike most movies have the ability to take you on. Special effects alone are so alarmingly real, such as in Gravity, the audience is right up there floating around airless space looking down on the blue planet from within your sun reflecting shield in awe.

With a running time of 169 minutes be prepared for detailed monologues intertwined around non-stop eye-opening revelations. However like 2001, repeated viewings may be necessary, or in my case compulsive.

Shane A. Bassett

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