25.11.14

SCI-FI CONVERT


I’m taking a break, probably just for a week, of talking about the countryside and my generally bumpkinish life, and review a film.  Hardly the most releutionary change ever, but I am opposed to change so didn't want to push the bounaries too far.

Last night I went to see Interstellar.  "Oh no!" I hear you cry.  "Not another review of Interstellar!  I've read loads of these!" 

If you have, I endeavour you to read on anyway.  If you haven’t, then… well, read on too.


Interstellar is a sciencey space film, full of buttons, grey space pods and things rotating really, really fast.  It’s set on Earth, but a vaguely futuristic apocalytic world where dust and food shortages seem to be the main problem.  Despite this, everyone seems intent on playing baseball, but poorly as there are far too many inconvenient sandstorms, and everyone’s too hungry for sports anyway.  It’s very unclear quite when the film is set and when this future is meant to be.  It’s far enough in the future that America seem to have run out of all bar one of the major food groups and people go to school to train to be farmers.  (This is a career prospect that seems to be doomed from the off however since all the tractors and combine harvesters have been programmed to do all the farming themselves and the people just seem to watch them do this.)   On the other hand, this film seems actually quite current in terms of setting - there has yet to be any improvement made on the modern day pick-up truck, puncture repair or housing materials.

Now, I get Matthew McConaughey and Owen Wilson confused.  I think I thought they were the same person before I went to Interstellar and I was consequently expecting an intergalactic version of Marley and Me, where the hero would be a space dog who went to spread romance and love on other planets.  This is not the case, though despite this, I think the film still works.


Matthew McConaughey plays some sort of engineer/pilot man who once had a rocket crash (we think) and can use his laptop to stop flying, plane cameras from zooming around his corn fields.  His daughter is a science wizard who believes that the books on her shelf are trying to communicate to her through morse code and his son is a slightly non-descript character who suffers from intense reject as Matthew McConaughey clearly loves his sister much more than him.  Saying this, the son occasionally has to do various farm tasks and is probably, in some way, instrumental to the plot, even if it is just in a tear jerker-capacity.

Anyway, Matthew McConaughey manages to find a NASA factory, hidden in the hills a short drive away from his house, guarded by a robot that looks like a fridge.  


Through a wonderful twist of fate, NASA actually really need Matthew McConaughey as, until he by chance turned up at their barbed wire door, they didn’t really have anyone to lead their space mission which involves flying a rocket through a wormhole, in an attempt to find a world with more food and less dust.  On NASA’s part this seems like a slight oversight, and we’re not really sure why NASA didn’t just send him a nice letter on NASA headed paper, asking him to come along anyway.  
After an emotional wrestle with his daughter, Matthew decides that if he doesn’t go on this mission, the film would be very short and wouldn’t win any Oscars.  So, despite having been a farmer for the past-however-many-years, and having, as far as we know, no formal training in new NASA technology, Matthew zooms off to man a mission off to the middle of nowhere.

Scientifically this film is very exciting.  Many of the spacey models of wormholes and planets are more accurate than any we have had before, mainly as people will pay to see Interstellar, but the viewing figures for the windows of functioning science laboratories are much lower.  However this doesn't mask some of the humungous scientific flaws the film poses, not least of which is how Matthew McConaughey can have such a pale daughter.  


The film’s interpretation of the inside of a black hole is odd, and doesn't really make sense, and the observational skills of all the scientists is pretty poor.  Yes, Earth is dusty and all there is to eat is corn, but the selection of worlds that Matthew's space mission visit are all have much bigger problems than a poor diet.  I’d face a sand storm any day, rather than have to live next to a black hole, underneath big, spooky looking ice clouds or on a planet inhabited by a crazy and psychotic Matt Damon.  So when you think about this film in a brainy way, it starts to unravel a little bit.  

Looking at it under the rules of observe/analyse, it’s quite silly and, at the end of it all, we don’t get many of the answers we wanted the film to provide us with.  In fact, an awful lot happens to very little effect.  According to Newton’s third law, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, but after all the hurtling and exploding and space-exploring team NASA do, there is actually very little outcome.  Saying this, there is no sense of anti-climax by the end.  You are just sat in your seat, relecting on the sheer cinematic brilliance of what you have seen.

I don’t like Batman, but Christopher Nolan is an insane storyteller.  The story of Interstellar is the perfect balance of crisis and salvation, destruction and healing, love and loss, space and dust.  The momentum the film manages to maintain over the impressive 3 hour run time is equatable to that of a spaceship shooting out of a black hole.  

McConaughey’s performance was incredible - his character was diverse, complicated, not wholly explored (but in a good way as this kept him interesting and three dimensional, like a wormhole really) and convincing, which was impressive since the pretence of the film was actually quite unconvincing.  Anne Hathaway, despite playing a bit of a weepy astronaut, complemented him beautifully, and a lovely relationship between the pair blossomed throughout the film, based on mutual life-saving experiences.


Michael Caine was given a lot of lines that sounded an awful lot like each other, and said then in a low and slurred voice that we never really knew quite what he was saying.  He plays the part of a very smart physicist, so we probably weren’t meant to understand it anyway.  It’s supported by more stellar performances, particularly from Mackenzie Foy who plays Matthew’s daughter.  She may be recognisable to many of you as the daughter of Edward and Bella in Twilight.  The role she is given in that film, which basically exists of staring and looking dead really doesn’t do her abilities justice.

Haunting sciences are mixed with another fabulous soundtrack from Hans Zimmer.  Stunning panoramas of intense darkness and the intense scale of space leave you tingling with a mixture of fear and wonderment.  This film has encapsulated on so many ways the grandness of space and the preciousness of our own world and done it, somehow, without the ostentatiousness that a film of this scale should have done.


Sophie

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Hello!  I’m Sophie - lover of coast, country and all things baked and smothered in icing.

Recent university graduate and bumbling my way through the life of an employed editor.