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Saturday, 8 November 2014

Of Space, Time and Pizza

[Spoilers ahead]
Interstellar is certainly brave if nothing else. Spanning multiple galaxies and time zones (I know this term is probably incorrect, you geeks), the movie is a beautiful experience for at least the first 2 hours of its run-time.

The Good

  • TARS – This robot, thanks to his dry humor, was at once amiable and certainly held his own in a film with a solid cast all around. Special mention to TARS' form which was functional and unlike anything I have seen before, yet aesthetically pleasing.
  • Time Dilation – If there was one scientific concept whose use the movie absolutely nailed, it was this! Key to the the plot, time dilation served to heighten the drama and elicit gut-wrenching emotion on several occasions. We feel Cooper's joy turn to pain as he watches how his son has been sending out hopeful messages out into space all these years.
  • Matt Damon's entry – I and, judging by the collective gasps in the theater, most people watching had no idea that Damon was in the film. There was good drama on both the planets that Cooper and Brand visit, but Mann's world really took the cake. The half an hour or so that he was in the film were edge-of-the-seat stuff, and Damon was the perfect choice to play the Mannipulative pioneer. BTW, when Damon comes out of cryosleep, did anyone else mistake him for Philip Seymour Hoffman?
  • Despite the terrible pacing that leads up to this scene, I loved Cooper's reunion with Murph. Her line about knowing Cooper would be back because of his promise as a father is a genuinely sweet moment and reassurance that Interstellar is a film with its heart in the right place.
  • Visuals and acting, obviously. The film was also peppered with some nice dialogue and crisp, funny one-liners throughout.

The Bad

  • For weeks, we heard about how the visuals in the movie aren't typical artistic fare but rather the results of complex, scientific calculations that took hours of computing time to render; we read The Physics Refresher You Need To Read To Understand 'Interstellar', and saw Kip Thorne tell us about research papers that will be written based on everything that was learnt in the development of this magnum opus. And while that is commendable in terms of breaking new ground, for an average moviegoer like me, it really does not matter. Gargantua, for all of its scientific accuracy, is at the end of the day, just a black hole that is supposed to suck everything in its vicinity into its unforgiving, gluttonous self. Why this is bad is at several times, it felt as though the film wanted me to care about its amazing complexity rather than its story, but I didn't.
  • The first couple of minutes that Cooper, after passing through Gargantua's wormhole, spends in the limbo(?) overlooking his daughter's bookshelf were amazing! But that feeling of "OMG! It was him all along" was quickly replaced by wariness as Cooper passes on complex, esoteric information in Morse before the film fast forwards to Murph's Eureka moment. For a film that had real potential to generate an emotional reaction, Interstellar let its magic be diluted by its half-baked scientific expositions and hurried pace in the last quarter.
  • For all its technological brilliance, Cooperspace (or whatever that futuristic NASA colony orbiting Saturn was called) seems to have an improbably lax security system, judging by how easily Cooper sauntered into wherever the spaceships are kept and escaped in one of them. I mean c'mon man! Even stealing a car from a parking lot has to be more difficult than that. Just because my brain was a little tired by then doesn't mean you try to slip that past me.
  • The all conquering power of love – This theory, that love guides us in a manner that transcends space and time, could have been beautiful had it been made more tacit, but in the way it was oft-repeated by its characters, the message seemed rather forced and unintuitive.

The Incomprehensible

  • A lot of the dialogue in the beginning was difficult to understand. McConaughey's slick, Texan drawl is easy on the ears but more than a little tedious to process at times. Kudos to Jessica Chastain for deciphering not just Cooper's codes but also what Michael Caine was saying on his deathbed.

In conclusion, I would like to say that for me, the film was like having a large Pizza all by myself, all at once – there is enough good in there while I'm eating it, but when I'm done, I feel more stuffed and tired than happy and content. Metaphors aside, Interstellar is a movie that you may or may not love but definitely one that you should watch.

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