In Earth’s future, a global crop shortage and an ongoing Dust Bowl are slowly making the planet uninhabitable.
Former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has had to turn to the soil to make a living. Copper is a widower with two children, Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and Murph (Mackenzie Foy), and his grumpy father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow) to support.
With everyone’s time on Earth coming to an end, Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist makes a plan to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home though a wormhole.
Cooper and a team of researchers are chosen to undertake the most important mission in human history; travelling beyond this galaxy in search of a new planet for us to inhabit. They are giving up their future so that the inhabitants of Earth may still have one.
Their mission is to travel into space, through a wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three chosen planets could be mankind’s new home. Cooper’s crew includes Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), along with Doyle (Wes Bentley) and Romilly (David Gyasi).
They get the regulation white suits, Nixon-era tech, long-sleep hibernation pods and knock-off Nigel quality video messages from home. The team also gets a standard-issue talking robot called Tars, who is quirky but obedient.
As the intrepid explorers travel through time and space we’re shown glimpses of human emotion at its most primal level. They begin to question everything that makes them human.
Director Christopher Nolan takes the universe and turns it into both his subject and canvas, brilliantly exploiting cinema’s ability to shift backwards and sideways in time (through flashbacks and cross cuts), even as it moves relentlessly forward.
Wormholes are presented as things that exist but no one really talks at length about. When Cooper thinks of something mathematically brilliant to do with gravitational pull and fuel consumption, he scribbles it on his little spaceship whiteboard and female Brand shrugs and simply says
“Yeah. That’ll work!” With that kind of logic I think I might be a rocket scientist too. I just forgot.
Nolan gives us more of his signature universe-manipulations, in which the ground or sea will turn up 90 degrees, like a surreal cliff-face: huge, dreamlike and wrong. Accompanied by Hans Zimmer’s score, it’s exhilarating.
Inevitably, like in any space movie, something doesn’t go to plan. When Cooper returns from the team’s first exploration he finds that time has slipped forward decades in the few hours he has been away.
20 years’ worth of backed-up video messages reveal that his small children have turned, in the blink of an eye, into two middle-aged adults, (played by Casey Affleck and Jessica Chastain) both are angry and embittered in their own ways by their abandonment.
At some point Cooper must choose between seeing his children again or ensuring the future of mankind.
Interstellar is Nolan’s biggest spectacle and biggest disappointment. It’s full of wormholes, black holes and plot holes. He explores the concept of the fifth dimension but it’s shown to us in an almost laughable way. Like relativity for dummies. I mean why would Cooper need an explanation about black holes if he’s a genius NASA pilot? That seems to be the general theme of the movie, great concept, bad execution.
Talk about too much of a good thing, I swear if I ever hear Dylan Thomas’ poem ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ again I think I may scream.
I felt like I aged 20 years sitting through 3 hours of Interstellar, but instead of being 20 years wiser, I’m 3 hours dumber.
By Ruth Walker