Movie review: Interstellar (and bonus movie news!)

Movie Review: Interstellar

interstellarI should start by saying when it comes to space – the final frontier – I was (note past tense) a little ‘meh’. I have never got that excited about planets, shuttle voyages, the potential of alien life, or any of that jazz. That hasn’t stopped me from enjoying space movies of course – with Guardians of the Galaxy being my film of the year so far, and Gravity being in my top 5 last year. But, up until now, I have not been that concerned about actual space activity. Nor that worried that Nasa’s operations might not be as well funded hence exploratory as they used to be. But, after watching Interstellar last night, I can tell you that my views have changed. And any movie that can change my mind about something, is clearly not a fluffy pop corn flick. This is a serious movie with an important message, but one that resists the temptation to bang you over the head with it.

It is also a bloody hard film to review. If you have seen the trailers you will know a little of what it is about. And I don’t really want to tell you much more, as I think a lot of my enjoyment came out of not knowing what was going to happen (or, who was going to pop up! I was stunned when an A Lister I had no idea was connected to the film appeared part way through. Either I did bad research or they did a good job keeping that on the down low). But, to sum up for those who haven’t seen the trailer, Interstellar is set in the future (we are never given an exact date) where the world’s population is struggling to feed itself in the wake of dust storms and climate events (oh really? This is what could happen if we don’t do anything about climate change? Um… yes). Not too much is made of this – the why, the how, the who is to blame – it is just presented as the reality of how they live now. Farming is the occupation du jour – which is what we find ex-fighter pilot/space shuttle pilot Matthew McConaughey doing. But he isn’t happy with his lot, nor happy for the future he sees for his two kids. A future where the focus is squarely on ‘getting by’ and ‘caretaking the planet’ not on expanding the mind, or making new discoveries.

He is pretty stoked then when, thanks to some random ‘irregularities’ in his house, he and his daughter happen to find themselves running slap bang into NASA – who aren’t decommissioned after all. They are in fact planning a journey to another galaxy, to see if there are planets there capable of sustaining human life, since clearly Earth won’t support them much longer. McConaughey is therefore faced with the choice – which he makes pretty easily – of staying with his family, or leaving them to go on this mission and potentially saving the human race. Most of the rest of the movie follows him and his fellow explorers (including Anne Hathaway and Wes Bentley) as they journey through a black hole and deal with issues of gravity, time, relativity, priorities and the humour settings on robots. Sound dull? Trust me, it isn’t. And there are even some pretty hearty laughs delivered, many of which are thanks to the aforementioned robot settings.

Interstellar clocks in at 169 minutes, but is completely gripping throughout. It is emotional without being too sentimental (well, 90% of the time), it makes you question our place on the planet and in the galaxy, and also, as I mentioned up front, it makes you think more carefully about where we, as humans, put our priorities (and our funds). I would have said, before yesterday, pull NASA’s funding and put it into mitigation strategies for climate change. After the movie though, I think funding BOTH is an absolute necessity (so maybe we can pull the pin on frivolous/ridiculous things like funding a referendum to change the flag instead…not that we fund NASA, but I had to get that dig in somewhere ;-)). Director Christopher Nolan has once again proved himself a master of the art of movie making and story telling, and Inception is probably the closest comparison in terms of his back catalogue – it also delves into issues of gravity, time and reality. This just does it in a much more believable way. Normally I have a lot to say about the cast and how they performed, but honestly I was so engrossed in the story that I wasn’t paying too much attention to whether McConaughey’s performance was worthy enough to earn him a follow up Oscar or whether Anne Hathaway was annoying. But that in itself shows that of the large cast –  including the fantastic Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck as McConaughey’s earth based and all growed up kids –  there were no sour notes that detracted from my experience. They were all excellent.

So, Interstellar delivers everything you want in a big blockbuster these days – an inspiring, educational, emotional ride where you go away really thinking. I will admit that there were a few things that happened at the end that tarnished the experience slightly for me…but I can’t say what they were without ruining your own experience. But, overall, this was an insanely good watch. Four and a half multi-coloured M&Ms from me.

Movie News

ultronIt has been a pretty huge couple of weeks for movie news, and Friday was a pretty massive day on it’s own. Why? Well, the new Star Wars has a name and has wrapped principal photography. The name? Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yep, you read that right. Since Return of the Jedi the Force has been taking a bit of a nap and the new JJ Abrams directed film will focus on what its morning routine might be. Coffee? Donut? Shower? Well, that is what Twitter would have you believe anyway (and if you haven’t read some of the hilarious Twitter jokes about the name, please check some out here). You would think studios would have a ‘Twitter Test’ by now, where they run it by some people to see if there are any obvious jokes to be made. Clearly this one would have failed. But, never mind – that is the name we have.  And the poor wee movie will just have to live with it. Something tells me it won’t impact it’s opening weekend 😉

Other big news in the last few weeks came out of Marvel Studios – with them releasing the specifics on their full slate of films right up to 2019. Some we knew about/fan boys suspected – another Guardians of the Galaxy, a third Thor (which will be Thor: Ragnarok – which is Armageddon for those in the know/people who watched The Almighty Johnsons), a third Captain America which will be Civil War (where apparently Cap and Iron Man/Tony Stark throw down against each other), and TWO more Avengers films – called Infinity War. All this stuff means infinitely (ha!) more to comic book aficionados than it does to the likes of me, them understanding exactly what might be unfolding in these films (which, apparently, is a crap tonne of crazy stuff). I was stoked though to finally FINALLY see a female led Marvel film – in the form of Captain Marvel. I don’t know a thing about her, but she is a chick, and even though she isn’t Black Widow I am still pleased to see a girl finally being handed the Marvel mantle. Of course, they kind of had to, since their nemesis DC had already a few weeks earlier announced a Wonder Woman film. But still, two female led superhero films in the next few years? Hell yeah. In the meantime, if you haven’t already seen it, here is the full on, impressive, but a little too serious for my liking new trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron – hitting cinemas next April (and for those of you wondering why The Blacklist’s Raymond Reddington is doing the voiceover – he IS Ultron). Something tells me, even if it isn’t as funny as the first Avengers, this is still going to be amazeballs.

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