Sunday, March 29, 2015

Video review: "Interstellar"

Some people were fascinated by “Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan’s ruminative space adventure, while others were simply bewildered. Count me as both.

The film, which Nolan directed and co-wrote, is at once very science-heavy and dreamy. It uses the mechanics of space exploration to tell a humanist tale about parents and children, reaching for the stars versus keeping your head on the ground, and other big-think topics.

Matthew McConaughey plays an engineer/pilot who’s been grounded by an ecosystem disaster that’s destroying all of mankind’s crops. The human race will eventually starve. He’s offered a chance to lead a last-ditch mission to find a way to save the species by traveling through a wormhole to distant galaxies.

It seems other astronauts were dispatched on similar trips years ago and never returned. So it’s a high-risk/high-reward situation.

Anne Hathaway is the doubting Thomas co-pilot, while Jessica Chastain plays McConaughey’s daughter. If the age difference between Chastain and McConaughey doesn’t sound plausible, that’s because in different parts of space time can flow much faster – meaning years pass by while they’re dawdling on a lonely planet.

The visual majesty of how Nolan and his crew depict inter-dimensional travel is just mind-blowing. I wish I could say the same about the soundscape, which in a typically Nolan-like way with a thrumming musical score by Hans Zimmer, makes it very hard to make out dialogue at times. You may remember having similar difficulty understanding Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

(Of course, now you can just turn on subtitles during those hard-to-decipher scenes to see what McConaughey was really saying. I’m taking bets on whether it was actually anything substantive, or if he was just muttering something about Earth chicks getting older while he stays the same.)

In the end it’s just well-crafted sound and fury signifying not much, but “Interstellar” is certainly never boring.

The film is being released with a host of goodies, though you’ll have to pay for the Blu-ray edition to get any of them: the DVD comes with exactly nothing.

Extras include interviews with the cast and crew reflecting on the filmmaking experience, and a ton of making-of featurettes touching on virtually every aspect of production. This includes the real science behind space travel, shooting in Iceland to replicate a desolate planet, concept art and much more.



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