Saturday, November 8, 2014

INTERSTELLAR (2014): Travelling Beyond Science Boundaries

Interstellar

This is INTERSTELLAR, or I might give it another title: BEYOND BOUNDARIES. As far as I know, math and physics haven't even come as close as what Christopher Nolan offered in this incredible work of fiction, but he deliberately pushed viewers to understand debatable theories so we together can travel way way further than we could imagine. Some (or perhaps most) of us won't enjoy this travel that much (for them this is either too complicated or too flawed) but all I'm trying to do is appreciating that someone (who is not even a scholar from the field he traveled to) invites not only himself but also many people to discover what is outside the boundaries of modern science.

It's not exactly food scarcity and extreme climate changes that brought NASA-astronaut-turned-farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) to a top-secret NASA station somewhere not far from his corn field; it was a coincidence over-analysed by his bright-brained daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) when she found that the dust, after a rain dust stroke into her room, fell in patterns that might translated into map coordinates. And it is also an over-analysis that made her sure Cooper shouldn't join the ENDURANCE mission that NASA offered to him, which is a mission involving astronaut Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), and Romilly (David Gyasi) based on a lifetime research by Professor Brand (Michael Caine)—which is Amelia’s dad—focusing on searching for a new home beyond our galaxy, given that the earth might come to an end and humanity might face extinction in near future. This over-analysis was based on Murph’s so-called ‘ghost’ in her room, who ‘liked’ to drop books out of the cabinet. This time, when Cooper was ready to depart from Earth, the ‘ghost’ dropped these books in certain patterns which if translated into Morse code would read “S-T-A-Y”. Instead of leaving, Murph insisted that Cooper should stay.

Interstellar

But he still went anyway, and it might be a decision he regretted quite much because, after finally their spaceship entered a wormhole (Nolan and his co-writer/brother simply stated as a wormhole “created by five-dimensional creatures out there who eventually intended to aid human crossing spacetime border”), they had to collect data from a planet orbiting near a blackhole. Now you start entering physic territory here: because of the speed of the planet orbit, time lapsed. It made a significant difference of time between them and the people outside the planet. Cooper and his team spent one or two hours of the planet time, which equals to twenty three years of Earth time. His little daughter was then the same age with him (she’s now Jessica Chastain), and she joined the NASA team just like his dad, probably to know the reason behind his dad and the mission crew’s disappearance for twenty three years.

But remember the time I tweeted (or posted) that I was not really anticipating INTERSTELLAR because everything I expected from an awe-inspiring journey to outer space has been given by last year’s award-winning GRAVITY (which also made for the second best film of last year)? I think I was wrong. INTERSTELLAR made an incredible move over GRAVITY. GRAVITY also went beyond boundaries by giving us a new vision about outer space in the closest way modern science approved (and of course in the most jaw-dropping visual experience modern technology allowed), but INTERSTELLAR has something that GRAVITY didn’t hold tightly: story. Although it still laid on the shoulder of not-yet-proven physics theories, but this complicated thrill of searching new home and all brings INTERSTELLAR a step ahead on paper. 

Interstellar

These science jargons may excruciate unattentive and lazy viewers (some of them might think that ‘wormhole’ is the movie’s made-up term instead of a valid science term). Boring? Almost, given that INTERSTELLAR runs for a solid 169-minutes that you might find your seat no longer comfortable to sit. But Nolan delivered this soon-to-be science-research-turned-movie back into a familiar family drama based on daughter-dad relationship that might wet your eyes. This, in my opinion, can also bring a drawback, because not only it backfires itself into a suddenly more complicated story, but also it feels unfocused in certain ways. Plus, the way Nolan still puts formulaic and practical efforts like bombing, character twist (especially Matt Damon appearance!—this is no spoiler), and a simple-yet-big surprise in the ending from our ‘protagonist’ cost INTERSTELLAR half a star. So far it still makes for the best film of the year I have seen so far, but no I can’t give it a straight 5-star the way I gave GRAVITY last year.

Still, there are many ways to enjoy INTERSTELLAR. Some argue that you don’t need to understand the science behind the story, because you can feel its beauty just by your heart (something that eventually was echoed within the movie itself—something about love that “transcends across time and space” which feels like a super-dull one-line) but I personally prefer to (at least) know the basic science of it because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t really appreciate the effort Christopher Nolan and his team made to bring INTERSTELLAR over boundaries even by consulting with physicist Kip Thorne. (I wish I were a physics graduate!). Yet, again, everything outside the boundaries is pure imagination. I almost jumped out of my seat when the film reached that border (about that five-dimensional thingy), but what I got is something laughable (and enjoyable!) that finally reminds me that INTERSTELLAR is simply a sci-fi, with more emphasis on the ‘sci’ part than on the ‘fi’ part.

Interstellar

In the end, right while I'm walking out of theater as the credit rolls, I feel exhaustedly awe-inspired. It felt like I was in a college class where my lecturer (who was a well-known sensational physical theorist) described his latest research on blackhole and wormhole and multi-dimension, which is so incredible it might bring him a Nobel. No filmmakers have brought physics this far, although what is left outside the boundaries is pure imagination. Superb.



INTERSTELLAR
2014 / Adventure, Sci-Fi / 169 min / PG-13

cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway,
Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Mackenzie Foy
Wes Bentley, David Gyasi, Casey Affleck,
Matt Damon, et al.

written by Christopher Nolan &
Jonathan Nolan
directed by Christopher Nolan

13 comments:

  1. Awesome review! Loads of great points, I pretty much felt the same way about this one. Very ambitious and very entertaining.

    First time on your blog, and I love it! I'm subbed up and looking forward to reading more of your stuff. You can check out my review of Interstellar here: http://feelinfuzzier.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/film-review-interstellar.html

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    1. Hi! Thanks for visiting! Gonna check your site soon and already added you on my blogroll :)

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  2. What a great review, Bar! You know, it took me 4 days to write something about Interstellar. I wanted to make it look as big as the movie, turns out, I lost many points on my way there. Sure, I love your points about applying imaginations (that reasonably close to the reality) to expand the scientific boundary in this movie. I think The Nolan Brothers along with Kip Thorne, really, have worked so hard to "translate" the astrophysics theory into pictures, moreover, stories.

    Yet, what I love most: the giant sarcastic robot idea. So fresh and funny!

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    1. Thank you! Gonna check your review soon.

      You mean TARS? I don't know, I think it's dull. What, they wanna copy 2001's monolith?

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    3. I'm assuming by copy you mean the design, no? I think sinekdoks was commenting on the robot's sarcastic quality, though, not its design--hence "fresh and funny". Regarding the design, I think of it as more of a homage instead of a copy.

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  3. Well, I like this movie but not really love it.
    Mungkin masalahnya ada pada ceritanya yang terlalu predictable gag sih, Bar? Beda sama kayak Gravity misalnya yang sampai akhir film saya dibuat bertanya-tanya nih tokohnya selamat atau enggak.

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    1. Hmm predictable sih enggak kak, overall aku cukup suka sama ceritanya. Kupikir film ini karena pengen dibikin mirip banget dengan teori sains makanya berpotensi jadi panjaaang banget dan melelahkan, makanya aku maklum aja sih kalo ada bagian yang kesannya terburu-buru atau dihilangkan (yg kata critics sih akibat penulisnya terlalu malas). Tapi kalo diingat lagi effortnya untuk memvisualisasikan teori sains yang masih tabu untuk masyarakat umum, aku ga nyesel ngasih film ini skor 9 :)

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  7. "Interstellar" is a breathtaking adventure that will make you think about it for days and weeks to come. It may fall short in places such as scientific accuracy, but I believe that everyone involved in the production of "Interstellar" did their best to create a great memorable movie. I highly recommend this movie, especially in high definition.

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