Great start. Lousy finish.
Film Review © 2014 by Trip Reynolds
Directed by Christopher Nolan. Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan. Produced by Christopher Nolan, Lynda Obst, and Emma Thomas. Executive produced by Jordan Goldberg, Jake Myers, Kip Thorne, and Thomas Tull.
Starring: Matthew McConaughey (as Cooper), Ellen Burstyn (as Cooper's daughter, the much older, Murph), Mackenzie Foy (as Cooper's daugher, the much younger, 10-year-old, Murph), John Lithgow (as Cooper's father, Donald), Michael Caine (as Professor Brand), Timothée Chalamet (as Cooper's much younger son, 15-year-old, Tom), David Oyelowo (as Murph's and Tom's school principal), Bill Irwin (as the voice of the robot, TARS), Anne Hathaway (as Professor Brand's daughter and future love interest for Cooper, Brand), William Devane (as NASA/higher-up government official, Williams), Casey Affleck (as Cooper's much older son, Tom), Matt Damon (as the run amok astronaut, Dr. Mann), and a host of others.
This film had such a great start. It seemed like it was going somewhere, and in a very profound way, centered around strong family values, farm life, and science. This film involves science, not fantasy. Therefore, it's a major mistake for this film to deviate from common sense, or from known scientific facts; nevertheless, film deviated from reality for two-hours and fifty minutes.
In summary, the entire planet earth will no longer be able to sustain life due to major dust storms that prevent farming and related life sustaining endeavors. Our hero, expert pilot Cooper, played intensely by Matthew McConaughey, leaves his children and planet earth behind to find a suitable planet to: (a) transport all "living" human beings (and hopefully, other animals); or if such is not possible, to (b) transport cryogenic canisters of human life to a habitable world in order to re-start humanity. The script established that Cooper's daughter will be the last generation to populate the earth. So, how long is a "generation" ?? As defined by the American English Dictionary, a generation is "the average period, generally considered to be about thirty years, during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children of their own." So, Cooper had 30 years to save humanity.
Problem 1: As most K-12 students know, three-fourths of the earth's surface is composed of water - sea water, where most of the life on this planet lives. Duh. Film failed to address this issue. Given that humans had 30 years to save themselves, why didn't humans turn to the oceans of the world for survival via boats, ships, submarines, underwater cities, floating cities, and more? Why? Why? Equally important, and only for the sake of dramatic effect, film completely ignored the possibility of establishing human colonies on the moon, or Mars, and creating ark-like spaceships to take humans " . . . where no humans have been before." Again, they had 30 years to come up with viable solutions to their dilemma.
Problem 2: As conveyed in my review of the film, "Gravity (2013)," we've learned a lot from space travel, and the impact of prolonged exposure in space has on the human body. As documented by the Canadian Space Agency: In space, bodily fluids no longer flow back down naturally by gravity. The heart is still programmed the way it was on Earth. So, under the pressure of the heart and the veins and arteries, the blood rushes to the person’s torso and head, and they then experience “puffy face syndrome.” The veins of the neck and face stand out more than usual; the eyes become red and swollen; and vertebrae, hips, and femurs lose about 1 percent of their mass per month (Source: Mysteries of Outer Space: Probing the Secrets of Our Universe, U.S. News & World Report, 2003). This effect is often accompanied by nasal congestion and sometimes even headaches. Astronaut’s legs also grow thinner, because instead of dropping effortlessly down to the lower limbs, the blood has to be pumped there by the heart. Given these facts, a more intriguing film could have been conceived adhering to actual scientific data. Plus, unlike "Star Trek" and other science fiction properties that address these "facts" by creating artificial gravity and other technologies that do not currently exist, "Interstellar" completely ignored all of the aforementioned facts, and even worse, the film also added time travel and alternative dimensions to the poorly conceived script.
Problem 3: For the sake of dramatic effect, which was completely stupid, film has Professor Brand (Michael Caine) writing equations to solve a "gravity problem" on a chalk board (i.e., Professor Jacob Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe) in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)"; completely ignoring the fact that even handheld scientific calculators solve such equations in meer seconds, and that legacy "mainframe" computers and modern day midrange ERS/HRIS/ERP computers and related software applications churn-out such data almost instantaneously.
Problem 4: Film makes the terrible mistake of using meaningless scientific gobbledygook to explain away why certain strategies cannot be used, which is ridiculous given that humans had never, again, NEVER ventured into space to test and validate such theorems. By default, "due diligence" requires a pragmatic, linear thinking mind to validate instead of making assumptions; an empirical mind will test and verify. Film made no such effort.
Problem 5: Time travel, really? Alternate dimensions, really? Isn't it bad enough that the re-boot of the "Star Trek (2009)" film franchise completely eliminated the existence of "Star Trek: The Next Generation"? For example, at one point Cooper, who's somewhere in space, well beyond the planet Saturn, is attempting to return to earth via a wormhole, but his ship explodes and somehow he suddenly finds himself floating behind his daughter's book case on earth, wearing only his space suit, and he begins to give his daughter clues to prompt their mutual survival. Stop laughing. Oh, and how much air does his space suit contain? Obviously, more than a couple of decades worth of oxygen is in his spacesuit.
The best thing about this film is its excellent cast, with great performances by all, including Ellen Burstyn, Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Timothée Chalamet, David Oyelowo, Bill Irwin, Anne Hathaway, William Devane, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, and more. Unfortunately, film is a complete waste of their acting talents by offering yet another clichéd ending with characters running amok and fighting each other, instead of working together. Of course, film also offers explosions while you eat your popcorn. Yada. Yada. Yada. After sitting for nearly two hours, a couple of people left the theater 30 minutes before the film ended. Perhaps, they were bored. I was.
Film is genré specific, predictable, and unnecessarily long. Direction by Christopher Nolan is adequate, but his attempt to make film into a pseudo-epic is a complete failure. Editing by Lee Smith seemed episodic. To enhance repeat airplay for U.S. cable/commercial television should be trimmed from 169 minutes to 90 minutes.
Recommendation: Don't waste your time. There's nothing memorable here.