Sunday, December 21, 2014

Interstellar (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Director Christopher Nolan of the popular "Dark Knight" films hits us again with a punchy, existential outer space epic that is one part cowboy film and one part enigmatic voyage.
Astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former pilot and farmer, coping with the spoils of his land. While the location is never explicitly identified, it is safe to say that it somewhere Midwest.  The main crop, after all, is corn.

 All is not the Emerald City however; the field is under a blight. Nolan consulted documentarian Ken Burns (The Dust Bowl) in creating these details and in its interpretation of a menacing Nature, Nolan's "Interstellar" is nothing short of marvelous. 

Cooper cannot make ends meet and his family is becoming ill. Despite this being the age of the iPad, we may as well be in the realm of Dorothy Gale's sepia Kansas. This gives the film a striking and evocative edge. Nostalgic, poignant and emotional, the visuals quote directly from a diverse film history.

When seeing a drone, Cooper flips out and runs for the fields. His daughter Murphy (McKenzie Foy) thinks she sleeps with a poltergeist, as books and toys fly off the shelves occasionally. In the manner of an M. Night Shyamalan film, Cooper becomes obsessed and drives to NORAD. Murphy hops on board. Cooper approaches the fence. There is a jolting buzz and a blinding terrible white light. But our hero, Coop, is fine. As it turns out, he is being briefed by NASA and asked to participate in a mission: Earth is becoming extinct and another planet must be found suitable for human residency.

Although the film evokes E.T.,  2001, and 3:10 to Yuma with its suspenseful tension and Western style climaxes, the philosophical puzzles are uniquely Christopher Nolan. 

McConaughey is terrific as the bronze space traveler as torn apart from being a single dad as he is from G force.

Another highlight is the forceful battle of life and death between Cooper and the egotistical Dr. Mann (Matt Damon) all set on the wastes of a hostile ice planet, which in reality, is set in Iceland .

"Interstellar" in the mode of a 21st century cliffhanger will never fail to keep you guessing. Yes, the casting of Anne Hathaway is reminiscent of a certain Sigourney Weaver heroine and certain set pieces imitate the "Alien" franchise but Nolan still has enough sleight of hand in his quantum thrills to make it both contemplative and tense. The sight of a single huge wave, Lucifer horned like a leviathan is a sensation, and the last of "Interstellar" sneaks up on us with an unexpected punch, making a fitting retro "Twilight Zone" episode, while also speaking of our primal human impulse of love and the perils of loss.

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