Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

Time for part two of our sci-fi weekend double feature review, and if Big Hero 6 represented a bright future here on Earth, then its opposite is Interstellar, a future for humanity so awful that we need to leave the planet behind.

The movie opens in a Midwestern farm state, sometime in the 21st century.  There are no more wars, it's true, but that's because Earth's crops are dying off one by one to a disease called Blight, and there's not enough food to feed the planet.  Huge dust storms ravage the skies, driving people indoors to seeks shelter.  Carrying masks and goggles on you at all time is just what people do.

And science and technology are the first casualties of this new order.  Cooper (Matthew McConaghey) is a washed up NASA test pilot without a NASA program, as the government apparently mothballed it a decade earlier.  He's turned farmer along with his wife's dad Donald (John Lithgow), who reminisces about the good old days of, well, today (my theory is that Donald is a grown Millennial, putting the story about 2050 or so) and his kids, son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy).  Cooper is pissed to find out Murph has gotten into fistfights at school over bringing her dad's science textbook in and explaining to her classmates and incredulous teacher that the moon landings were real and not faked.

So yeah, super storms, dying crops, Luddite know-nothing nonsense and America isolated from the world?  It's Tea Party time!

But then things get weird.  A mysterious force is haunting Murph's bedroom, and somehow communicating with her (think Contact or Close Encounters) and when Cooper finally pays attention, he realizes he's getting coordinates to where NASA has gone, deep underground, off the radar, off the grid, and off the budget.  There he meets his old mentor Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his equally brilliant daughter (Anne Hathaway) who tells him that somehow, a stable wormhole to another galaxy has been located off Saturn, and NASA has been shooting scientists into it, looking for a new home for humanity.  Somebody's put that wormhole there for a reason, and it's up to Cooper and the young Dr. Brand to find out why.

One final mission is being planned to find that new home, and that mission is where the movie really picks up and turns into a grand space exploration adventure, as Brand and Cooper have to leave everyone they love and know behind for the good of all mankind.

I loved this movie, frankly.  It's the first movie I've seen with Anne Hathaway in it in ages where I didn't immediately loathe her Manic Pixie Dream Girl act, maybe because she's playing a scientist and explorer instead of a piece of arm candy, and the fact that the real relationship here is between Cooper and his daughter Murph.

Besides, it's a breathtakingly beautiful film, with more than a few nods to Gravity, and TARS the robot is awesome.

Just trust me.  This one's going to win an Oscar or two.  Go see it.

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