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Interstellar – Review

March 1, 2015

Interstellar Poster

What makes a true cinematic masterpiece? In my interpretation of what makes a film soar high above the others is when a movie you are viewing envelops you whole, a piece of cinema that erodes all externalities around you , and taps into the core of your emotional centre. A part of you submerges into the alternate universe and you bond with the characters as if the relationships have been cultivated for many years past.

I had such an experience last week when I saw Christopher Nolan’s 2014 Science fiction film Interstellar. It was one of the most unique films I have seen in years and left me in a state of cinematic euphoria for days afterwards. Perhaps the Matrix came close to the feeling when it was first released into this world back in 1999.

If I had to distil Interstellar into the elements that made this film such a remarkable piece of human craftsmanship, it would firstly have to be the composer Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack that accompanied the movie. If you are not aware of Hans Zimmers contributions to the music or movie industry I urge you to search his name in Youtube, and see just how many movies his compositions defined over the years.

In brief, Interstellar is a movie about a team of explorers who travel through a wormhole in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival. The imagery of the hostile and vast void of space is perfectly captured in the selection of arrangements that Mr Zimmer created for the film.

Secondly the visual effects are equally stunning and rightfully deserve an Oscar for it. Everything was shot with such beauty, from Earthly scenes to the distant glowing gigantic black hole, the icy frontier of another planet, and the weightlessness of space travel, all added to the experience.

Finally the characters and the actors behind them really did a fantastic job in helping me feel part of the action. My impression of Matthew McConaughey has been elevated immensely after his performance as Cooper, the Pilot/Engineer/Farmer in this film. It has made me seek out his other notable performances.

There was another character that I really enjoyed, who happens to be not human. Nolan’s praise worthy depiction of an artificial Intelligence robot TARS, was a very novel and refreshing way of depicting non-organic intelligence. TARS did not have a human form, rather resembled a large silver fridge that was split and could rotate around four equal sections around the middle axis. TARS was still a robot in the sense that he was programed, was there to serve humans and obviously did not take on a human form, yet was capable of such higher human cognizance such as humour, interaction with others in a manner appropriate to the context; formal and serious when there was an emergency, while another time casually calling McConaughey’s character Cooper, “Coop” when saying goodbye to him.  We are reminded of TARS’ AI state at various portion of the movie when various settings are adjusted or discussed. There is a great scene between Cooper and TARS discussing the setting of Honesty

TARS - Interstellar

Cooper: Hey TARS, what’s your honesty parameter?
TARS: 90 percent.
Cooper: 90 percent?
TARS: Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.
Cooper: Okay, 90 percent it is.

Having said all that I watched the film in a tiny little screen while travelling on a crowded train. It has become my prerogative to re-watch this masterwork on the huge screen with surround sound.

Interstellar touches on a lot of themes and scientific concepts that may be confusing to viewers who are not versed in them. Time dilation & gravity  is one such topic that Nolan has woven into the story after consulting actual physicists, which play a big role in the movie but may leave viewers wondering what just happened. I did it myself, but I encourage others to read into the science behind the film after viewing.

If you have not seen Interstellar I really encourage you to go out and see this film, especially if you are science fiction fan, but also if you love fresh ideas that leave an impression on you long after the initial screening.

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