Speculative Fiction Saturday: Interstellar

InterstellarWell, with my theme this month of talking about whatever speculative fiction that I can get my hands on, I decided to discuss a film that has already been a subject of discussion: Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. If you aren’t familiar with Christopher Nolan, the guy has produced some really good films like Memento and Inception. Oh, he also did those Batman films, and some of them were good.

Nolan decided to go for something big with Interstellar, and yet a film that is a great human story from an actor that I never expected anything from: Matthew McConaughey. Yeah, that guy has a reputation of acting very hysterical, but in this film he is a father figure who drives the plotline so very well.

Okay, I did like this film, and I have to admit that the beginning is one of the best and filmmakers should take note. Interstellar opens in a world of the future, I guess. The thing is, it doesn’t look very futuristic, as it begins in the countryside where everything is timeless. We learn through dialogue that crops all around the world are dying. That’s right, through dialogue. There is no scrolling at the beginning saying this, and Nolan chose not to go the easy route and start off with a news broadcast explaining how the world got this way with riots and mass panic. Most filmmakers also would have gone out of their way to show dark gray skies, but in this film, the blue skies are just a sign that bad things are to come.

In fact, the reason for the world being in a state of famine isn’t really explained other than this “blight” which might be caused by environmental damage, maybe? It looks like the midwest is becoming a dust bowl as bad as the Great Depression, complete with sudden dust storms. In all honesty, I wanted to see a bit more on this world. Apparently, all the armed forces have been disbanded and textbooks have been revised, and no one cares. There seems to be this spirit of bleakness in this future world, a sense that planet Earth is in the final state of entropy, and most are in denial.

Now I’m going to bring up something that I don’t like. In the film, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has a young daughter named Murph (who is played by three actresses). Murph believes that she is seeing messages from the ghost of her mother. At this point, I was thinking: “there’s ghosts in this film?” Apparently, Murph is seeing coordinates in these signs, and she and her father follow them, leading the to a secret NASA installation.

Of course, NASA has long since been abandoned, but this organization is known as Lazarus, as they intend to bring the world back from the dead. As it turns out, Cooper used to be an astronaut pilot, and they are looking for someone to fly a new spaceship into a wormhole on Saturn. There has already been a wormhole mission by twelve astronauts, and only three of these astronauts reported back planets capable of life. Okay, I’m not certain if I believe that whole coordinates leading them here, because in all honesty, NASA should have contacted Cooper for this mission.

In other words, the Earth is in a state where humanity has to leave or die. Unfortunately, Cooper might have to leave his family behind to save the Earth, and it is a huge burden. There is a scene where Cooper has to go to a planet where one hour is equivalent to seven years of time on Earth. This leaves Cooper and the audience to wonder whether he can save the Earth and his daughter, Plan A, or everyone dies and humanity is jumpstarted on a distant planet, which would be Plan B.

I’m not going to reveal the end of this film, but I will say that it bears a huge resemblance to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. That is, there is a journey into an unknown anomaly, and there is even a sentient computer thrown into the mix. By the way, the sentient computer is this cool looking robot that I just like, and is one of those neat things that we watch science fiction for.

This film succeeds on many levels, emotionally and story-ily. I couldn’t think of any better way to say that. There are some very good moments in this film, but if you willing to buy the ending, you will fully enjoy Interstellar.

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