“A balletic space adventure that taps into our deep understanding of modern day science”
For a film that dares to aim big, its understandable only a handful of directors in Hollywood could rise to the challenge of creating an intellectual blockbuster. But after putting the days of Gotham behind him, Christopher Nolan heads for the stars as his defining moment to make his own personal spectacle in space finally arrives. While his long time production team mostly return, he has turned to the recent McConaissance mission for his leading man in the form of Matthew McConaughey. Space, time, memory and grand spectacle have all been themes addressed in Nolan’s films, now he looks to warp them all together to bring thought provoking sci-fi to the mainstream once again.
Agriculture on Earth is in dire need, with crops and supplies running desperately low and no future for the next generation of humans. After the discovery of a passageway through space, engineer and widowed father Cooper (played by McConaughey) is tasked with the mission of leading a team of four explorers, including Amelia (played by Anne Hathaway) to find a new planetary home among our galaxy. With distortions of space, time and dimensions calculated by Professor Brand (played by Michael Caine), will our heroes find a habitable solace as they travel into the unknown.
There’s no getting away front he fact this is a big, brash, fresh large scale epic that questions our place in the universe head on, coupled with the modern day understanding of physics to tell as plausible a story as possible. But even with its originality, it’s certainly a film influenced by the sci-fi of late 60’s, early 70’s. It’s more towards the 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris end of the spectrum than your average action and adventure through space, with its moments of awe-inspiring visuals and integral use of sound design. Nolan’s ethic of making effects in camera are put to effective use as the space crafts and suits are all created with a contemporary thought process in mind, but even the special effects of gravitational lensing and other worlds through the vastness of space are just as fantastic.
Two aesthetics work hand in hand throughout, we’re shown an Earth depleted to the point of crisis. But instead of disaster strewn cities and humanity deserted, Nolan has kept the story isolated to that of Cooper and his two children, especially that of young Murph, brilliantly played by Mackenzie Foy, who yearning for a better world carries throughout the story. There is a touch of Spielberg’s best sci-fi such as Close Encounters and E.T., by having a family orientated story and letting this whirlwind of spectacle go about around them. On the other side, you have the mission to space and the mechanical beauty of technology play out against the blackness of the Universe. The crew play off each other really well, most notably of NASA scientist Amelia Brand, greatly played by Anne Hathaway, the brains of the operation and go-to character for theoretical help. But as her journey through the film develops, there’s a realisation she can let emotion get in the way of the science. All whilst sharing their shuttle with audience treats in the form of Tars and Case, two robots that steal each scene and have a surprising amount of charm.
But the star among the stars is that of Matthew McConaughey as Cooper. A pioneer who just doesn’t know it yet. A father putting his family first, but who truly believes his place is that in the skies. He plays Cooper with an every man, down to Earth quality that are only found in performances of an ordinary person put in an extraordinary situation. McConaughey is able to transcend the film further and further as the narrative progresses and never losses sight of his purpose. It’s themes of spreading out across the cosmos and incorporating big ideas are never too preachy and the set pieces are done to a masterful precision, even all within a 166 minute running time that never feels too long.
Nolan has dared to dream big, and it pays off in more ways than you can imagine. It’s a balletic space adventure that taps into our deep understanding of modern day science, and the relationship we have with our beloved. There’s no question it will divide audiences and split opinion, even allowing time for its events to settle after viewing, but the boldness to take us on an adventure so wide in scope deserves every adulation it receives. See it big, see it loud and immerse yourself in a story that deserves to stand among intelligent science fiction.