In­ter­stel­lar

Space is big. Re­ally big. And so is Christo­pher Nolan’s tale of worm­holes, time di­la­tion and higher di­men­sions.

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated - An­drew Os­mond

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW! 2014 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD Direc­tor: Christo­pher Nolan Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Matt Da­mon, Michael Caine, Mackenzie Foy, David Gyasi

You wait years

for a se­ri­ous- minded space block­buster, then two ar­rive al­most at once. Fol­low­ing Grav­ity, a tight adventure story where peo­ple in space strug­gle to get back to Earth, here’s Christo­pher Nolan’s sprawl­ing epic about as­tro­nauts seek­ing a new home for hu­man­ity as Earth is buried in swirling dust- storms.

Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, an ex- pi­lot turned farmer in a fu­ture world that of­fi­cially de­nies hu­mans went to space. A ghost haunts his house and daugh­ter Murph ( Mackenzie Foy). The ghost leads Cooper to the re­mains of NASA and away from Earth. To­gether with his com­pan­ions, Cooper braves worm­holes, time di­la­tion, seas and glaciers, and higher di­men­sions.

As he did on his Bat­man tril­ogy, Nolan sets out to make a film apart from es­tab­lished screen gen­res. Avoid­ing sil­ver- suited fu­tur­ism, Nolan sets much of the ac­tion in a blighted ru­ral Amer­ica where dust- clouds en­gulf farm­houses and corn­fields, drawing on The Grapes Of Wrath and the paint­ings of An­drew Wyeth. In talk­ing heads in­ter­ludes taken from a 2012 doc­u­men­tary, el­derly sur­vivors of the “Dust Bowl” years in ’ 30s Amer­ica talk about their mem­o­ries of the time, em­bed­ding In­ter­stel­lar’s imag­ined fu­ture in the his­toric past.

Like Grav­ity, In­ter­stel­lar feels like a battle be­tween au­di­ence- friendly Hol­ly­wood and the coldly ra­tio­nal un­der­pin­nings of hard SF. On the one hand, the film con­veys the ter­ri­fy­ing vast­ness and lone­li­ness of space. The im­age of the tiny hu­man ves­sel crawl­ing through the void might have im­pressed Kubrick. He’d surely have liked the film’s most stu­pen­dous im­age, of a sea hump­ing up into moun­tain- sized waves on a world where nei­ther land nor life be­long.

And yet the film also in­sists on stay­ing with its story of one cos­mi­cally sep­a­rated fam­ily. Anne Hathaway’s sci­en­tist may make Werner Her­zog- like state­ments about the in­dif­fer­ent uni­verse (“Is a tiger evil be­cause it rips a gazelle to pieces?”) but she later talks of love as a Star Wars- style force. Cooper’s jour­ney leads us to a cir­cu­lar- logic end­ing which feels like 2001’ s star­gate reimag­ined by an es­pe­cially soppy Spiel­berg. The timey- wimey hand­wav­ing and du­bi­ous char­ac­ter res­o­lu­tions could have been writ­ten by Steven Mof­fat.

Other prob­lems, though, are ob­vi­ously Nolan’s. Mul­ti­ple rep­e­ti­tions of Dy­lan Thomas’s poem “Do not go gen­tle into that good night” soon get laugh­ably por­ten­tous, much like the closing speech in The Dark Knight. Even be­fore that sub- star­gate end­ing, the film runs short of steam. The last act has long an­ti­cli­mac­tic se­quences which aren’t ex­cit­ing or in­ter­est­ing, for all the brawl­ing on glaciers, breath­less in­ter­cut­ting be­tween dif­fer­ent worlds, and best at­tempts by com­poser Hans Zim­mer to ramp up the sus­pense.

And yet for all its dis­ap­point­ments, In­ter­stel­lar makes it easy to turn off one’s crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties and just en­joy the big­ness: the waves, the glaciers, the corn­fields, the whole su­per- sized pack­age.

The DVD is vanilla, with the ex­tras ex­clu­sive to the Blu- ray ( rated). They in­clude 13 mak­ing- of fea­turettes, plus a longer doc­u­men­tary, “The Science Of In­ter­stel­lar”.

View­ers who watch bonuses for can­did footage and com­ments from the ac­tors may be dis­ap­pointed. In­ter­stel­lar’s ex­tras are much more about the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges and vi­su­al­is­ing the science, which makes for dry view­ing at times. Still, there’s a lovely com­ment from Michael Caine, whose char­ac­ter writes huge equa­tions on a black­board: Caine con­fesses that when he talked to the physi­cist Kip Thorne, who sup­plied the real science, he was lost three sen­tences in!

It was Thorne’s equa­tions that determined how the worm­hole and the black hole were vi­su­alised in the

In­ter­stel­lar makes it easy to turn off one’s crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties and just en­joy the big­ness

film, the first as a mar­ble- like sphere in space, the sec­ond as black­ness sur­rounded by a gar­gan­tuan blaz­ing halo. The doc­u­men­tary does a fair job of ex­plor­ing th­ese top­ics, as well as time travel, rel­a­tiv­ity, the search for hab­it­able plan­ets and the Dust Bowl catas­tro­phe of the ’ 30s which in­spired

In­ter­stel­lar’s fu­ture. How­ever, some of this ma­te­rial gets re­peated in the shorter fea­turettes.

One of the best of th­ese is “Cos­mic Sounds”, about the cre­ation of Hans Zim­mer’s mu­sic, dom­i­nated by a gi­ant Lon­don church or­gan which ex­hales its mu­sic. Zim­mer be­gan his score think­ing it was for a fa­ther- son drama, not a space odyssey; true to his vi­sion, Nolan didn’t want In­ter­stel­lar to have a genre sound­track. The mu­sic de­vel­oped through the film’s pro­duc­tion, each shap­ing the other.

Other fea­turettes high­light Nolan’s prac­tice of film­ing as much as he can for real. In the stu­dio, we see space­ships be­ing turned on mas­sive gim­bals. When the En­durance ma­noeu­vres through space, you’re of­ten look­ing at a near life- sized prop be­ing filmed with real light­ing. The blocky robot char­ac­ter TARS was fre­quently a heavy­weight prop too, worked with rods by co­me­dian Bill Ir­win, who also sup­plied TARS’s voice. Even the ab­stract, sur­real Tesser­act en­vi­ron­ment was partly a gi­ant phys­i­cal set, with McConaughey hang­ing in a har­ness. Ice­land, for­merly Bruce Wayne’s train­ing ground in Nolan’s Bat­man

Be­gins, dou­bled as In­ter­stel­lar’s wa­ter world ( an end­less delta) and ice world ( a glacier). And if you’re won­der­ing why the ice world looks rather black, that’s residue from Ice­land’s 2010 vol­canic erup­tion – the one which stopped all the planes! A Limited Edi­tion Blu- ray comes with a 48page book­let, fea­tur­ing ma­te­rial from the book In­ter­stel­lar: Be­yond Time And Space.

Their fel­low as­tro­nauts didn’t be­lieve in wear­ing space­suits.

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