‘Interstellar’ shoots for the stars, takes viewers to space



Brian Lynch

“Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

With that timeless Dylan Thomas quote, legendary director Christopher Nolan sets the stage for the epic adventure to take place during his acclaimed sci-fi thriller “Interstellar.” 

The movie, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine, opens up on an earth plagued by climate change, economic stagnation and a crop-decimating blight. 

While most men occupy themselves squabbling over how to exploit the planet’s ever-dwindling resources and lamenting the growing inviolability of their home, a cadre of stargazing astrophysicists is working to seek salvation in the cosmos. 

Cooper, an immensely overqualified farmer played by McConaughey, finds himself in the company of these scientists, and is given the opportunity to leave behind his family to look for hope in the unexplored corners of deep space. 

The ensuing voyage is filled with heartbreak, deceit and discovery, and culminates in a head spinning, “Inception-y” crescendo. Despite the film’s 169-minute running time, it succeeds in entertaining from start to finish, and is sure to appeal to both sci-fi junkies and casual moviegoers alike. 

McConaughey shines in a film filled with as many tear jerking moments as thrilling intergalactic space scenes, and demonstrates a keen ability to be both touchingly sentimental and ruggedly powerful.

There is no arguing that Nolan undertook an extremely daunting task in telling a story as epic as “Interstellar.” Chief among his challenges was visualizing such cosmic phenomena as black holes, wormholes and a fifth dimension on the screen. In this, his ingenuity is admirable—his visual storytelling is both compelling and believable.

The viewing experience is enhanced by the remarkable special effects, which manifested beautifully on the IMAX platform. The plot does rely heavily on the viewer’s incidental knowledge of relativity theory and astrophysics. 

Some professional critics have gone so far as to say that Nolan expects too much of the viewer and the plot’s scientific complexity makes it prohibitively difficult to follow. 

However, that has never stopped him before. The infamously tortuous “Inception” was, after all, his brainchild as well. 

Another delightful aspect of “Interstellar” is the stars that comprise the cast. Speaking solely about the acting, “Interstellar” will likely go down as McConaughey’s achievement and his alone. 

However, it would be remiss to overlook the contributions of such names as John Lithgow and Matt Damon, who flourished in their sparing moments on screen.

Additional credit should be given to the 14-year-old Mackenzie Foy, who plays the part of McConaughey’s perceptive and intelligent daughter. The quality of acting from start to finish serves to amplify the film’s poignancy and drama.

If “Interstellar” has a major shortcoming, it is that the plot demonstrates a number of incongruities, or, as noted cosmologist Neil Degrasse Tyson recently termed then via Tweet, “mysteries.”  

Among those noticed by the author, without revealing any spoilers: 300-foot waves that mysteriously refuse to break in two feet of water, a cracked space helmet that does not seem to adversely affect the astronaut very much and a climactic scene that, while exciting, was highly questionable. 

It is understandable that some leaps were required in order to tell such a monstrous tale, but they by no means take away from the fact that Nolan’s attempt is, indeed, definitely stellar.