Better than Gravity: Christopher Nolan takes on the laws of physics

Gravity wasn’t as fantastic as many people claimed it was, and in the commercials, Interstellar looked like just another space-adventure-gone-wrong.  However, considering I cried within the first 15 minutes because I had already become emotionally attached to the characters, I’d say director Christopher Nolan did an outstanding job.

Former NASA pilot and engineer-turned-farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is always being informed by his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy, Breaking Dawn) that her bedroom is haunted by ghosts trying to communicate with the family.  After accidentally leaving her bedroom window open during a sandstorm, the way the sand has fallen appears strange and Cooper comes to find out that they’re coordinates to a hidden NASA station.  There, Professor Brand (Michael Caine, The Dark Knight) tells Cooper that Earth will soon enough not be able to sustain human life and the only way to save mankind is to travel through a wormhole.  But this is a risky expedition, because escaping wormholes is almost impossible.  Cooper is then recruited to pilot the spacecraft along with Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), Romilly (David Gyasi, The Dark Knight Rises), and Doyle (Wes Bentley, The Hunger Games).

Though two hours and 50 minutes, Interstellar doesn’t drag, and it would come across as rushed if it were any shorter.  Moreover, the actors make every minute count and flawlessly portray their roles.  While searching for a new home for mankind, Hathaway and her team reach a water-based planet, and it’s clear that the water is freezing, because her face and lips turn purple;  indeed, while shooting this scene, Hathaway developed hypothermia.

And then there’s the beautiful McConaughey, perfecting his role in every way possible.  In several of his movies, he is from the countryside or has a touch of a southern accent and can easily pull off the sitting-outside-watching-the-stars-wearing-a-cowboy-hat role.  Nolan had McConaughey use his forte but also show extreme emotion, like when he video chats his children from space and watches them grow in each video. The audience can clearly see the misery and extreme sadness etched on his face, for he effortlessly illustrates how much he misses his family.  (I might add that this is another scene that makes bringing a tissue box essential).

Nolan uses sound effects to build the film’s mood.  When the astronauts reach an unidentified planet and land in a body of water to collect data, a massive wave about as tall as the Empire State Building rapidly approaches the team and their rocket ship.  As Amelia is rushing to the ship but can’t move because of the below-freezing water temperature, the background noise slowly fades and the only sound is the petrified, muffled breathing of Amelia.

Let’s scratch the whole Gravity comparison; Interstellar surpasses all expectations, unlike that space accident of a movie.  Nolan knew what he was looking for, and his casting was spot on.  In the film, Professor Brand notes that “other universes are five-dimensional”; similarly, Nolan gives Interstellar depth: emotion, relationships and mind-boggling science.  I left the theater feeling like Cooper, looking up at the stars and questioning everything.  Interstellar is no save-the-world-from-aliens gimmick; it’s captivating love story for which the cast and crew deserve immense credit.

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