Interstellar: A return to old-school Sci-Fi

Interstellar 2014This film is a highly fanciful return to old-school sci-fi movies. There is some science interspersed with fiction, making it more akin to last year’s Gravity than Kubrick’s 2001 , to which it has been favorably compared. It’s not quite up to the standards of that classic film, but that doesn’t mean one should dismiss it completely.
Matthew McConaughey is adequate, but not wholly comfortable within his character, retired NASA pilot turned farmer Cooper. His role as pilot extraordinaire and earnest engineer lays rather heavily on his shoulders. He’s much better cast as the loving father and farmer in the opening segments. Anne Hathaway seems miscast in this piece, and literally adrift within the space opera. Michael Caine’s character of Professor Brand seems to be almost written in as an afterthought, which means it’s a bit confusing as to why he’s there. John Lithgow as Cooper’s father-in-law is similarly under-utilized in the script.
Only the character Jessica Chastain portrays seems to be well-rounded. She’s completely comfortable in her role as the daughter Murphy, who is left behind on Earth. The story centers around a wormhole discovered by NASA scientists after an apocalyptic Earth event. McConaughey and crew must travel through it to three possible planetary candidates in order to ostensibly re-colonize the inhabitants of Earth.
The plot holes are big enough to fly the Starship Enterprise through with plenty of room to spare. This is not high-brow sci-fi, but this movie, special effects notwithstanding, signals a return to the old-school style of science-fiction space operas we remember from the fifties and sixties. Films like Forbidden Planet, or Invasion of the Flying Saucers come
to mind if you’re old enough to remember such flights of fancy. In other words, you must suspend disbelief and simply enjoy the special effects. At some point, you may even check your watch as the running time is 169 minutes, well in excess of 2 ½ hours.
This film comes not highly recommended, but recommended for lovers of science fiction. As long as you walk in with your eyes wide open, and not expecting the wonders of 2001: A Space Odyssey, you probably won’t be disappointed.

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Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at

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