Interstellar to be Considered Best Sci-Fi Movie of the 21st Century
It’s been quite a while since I posted a film review. In fact, I do believe the last movie I felt compelled to write about was during the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, one year ago this week, during which I reviewed the likes of What We Do in the Shadows, a New Zealand mockumentary about a group of vampire roommates. Suffice to say, out of the hundreds of films I see per year, only a scarce few inspire me to voice a public opinion, for better or for worse. Last night I finally sat down to watch the 2014 science fiction film Interstellar. I am almost moved to say, this film could be considered the best sci-fi movie of the 21st century.
When it comes to science fiction films I am an absolute stickler for details. Having been a life-long fan of the genre, as well as an author of such tales myself, I have developed a very low tolerance for any story which is not wholly believable down to the very last scientific extrapolation or reference. Yes, science fiction is fiction, but in order for me to suspend my disbelief it has to feel “real”. If at any point in the film I find myself rolling my eyes and saying “that simply could never happen” or “if they did that they would all die” then it’s over for me and I immediately dismiss the film in its entirety. If you’re a filmmaker, then do your homework. And if you’re creating a science fiction film you’d better actually study the science behind your concept.
Suffice to say, while the world has been raving about Interstellar I have held off on seeing the film due to my skepticism--I am generally one to run the opposite direction from overhyped anything. I would rather form my own independent opinion of something outside of the mainstream’s peer pressure opinion. Thus, I was entirely prepared to be disappointed by this film. Instead, to my utter surprise I was absolutely blown away.
From the very opening scene, Interstellar wraps the audience in a poignantly fading watercolor painting of our world at the end of its ability to support human life. In direct comparison to the tragic Dust Bowl of the early 20th century, images of violent dust storms swallowing small towns and coating the dying fields of corn crops, is eerily beautiful. For all of the inescapable futility of humanity’s plight to survive, there is a gentleness to the planetary death that is sweetly sorrowful, the resignation of the masses to eek out the remaining years contemplative and philosophical. Even the discontent with said resignation is voiced in a stunningly poetic dialogue between characters that settles into your heart and mind like a last breathtaking sunset before an unending summer night.
The film is told from the perspective of an ex fighter pilot-turned-farmer named Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who is struggling with his own acceptance of humanity’s fate and the reality of the dying world his son and daughter will inherit. A series of strange anomalies provide a set of obscure coordinates that lead Cooper and his daughter to a secret NASA facility where scientists and engineers have covertly continued to explore the possibility of locating a new world for humanity to inhabit. Cooper is recruited to man the final mission by the lead scientist (Michael Caine), which will take the small crew (Anne Hathaway, David Oyelowo, Wes Bentley) through a wormhole near Saturn and to a galaxy light years away. Armed with only the hope of discovery and a vague idea of what they might find, based on the sparse data received from transmissions sent by another crew of explorers who ventured into the wormhole a decade prior, Cooper and his team leave behind their world and venture into the unknown with the knowledge that they may never return.
Against a backdrop composed of absolutely spectacular visual depictions of astronomical phenomenon, as never truly realized on the big screen until now, the stark contrast of the viscerally emotional relationships between the characters is truly mesmerizing. From the harrowing separation of Cooper from his young daughter before his journey, to the interaction of the crew as they face the reality of space-time singularity and the loss of decades of Earth-years, the true success of this highly original film stems from its ability to feel every single pang of remorse, sadness, loss, fear, and love that resonates through each character. Finely tuned with an endearing humor that serves to amplify the darker moments, as well as an overwhelming understanding of just how small and insignificant we are in the greater face of the universe, this is a film that will evoke bouts of crying in the most reserved of audience members--get ready to bawl your eyes out. But do not let this deter you--this is an action film as well and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
I cannot emphasize enough delight with the attention to detail the creators of Interstellar paid to the actual science behind this film. Honestly, at one point I found myself searching for even the most minute flaw, but with every turn they crossed their T’s and dotted their I’s to perfection. Even Science.com, along with a multitude of other astronomy and science-focused websites and blogs, has tipped their hats to the movie’s creators, dedicating several in-depth articles on the subject including an incredibly lengthy infographic breaking it down piece by piece. Interstellar has set a new precedent in the science fiction genre, one which other directors will be hard pressed to imitate.
If you, like me, have as of late found yourself in a malaise of jaded preconception in regards to science fiction movies, prepare to have your geekdom obsession renewed. As aforementioned, Interstellar, in my opinion, is by and far the most notable science fiction film of the 21st century and is now in the top five list of my all-time favorite sci fi flicks. I plan on seeing this movie repeatedly. But hopefully the next time I sit down to watch it, I won’t go through a box of tissues.