Review: 'Interstellar' literally and figuratively reaches for the stars
Jovan Cerda (The Philippine Star) - November 4, 2014 - 1:22pm

MANILA, Philippines - With big themes such as survival, space exploration and the relativity of time, Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" brings a film reminiscent of his other work, "Inception," where characters treading the line between hope and desperation push the boundaries of possibilities to achieve their goals.

Interstellar distinguishes itself from similarly themed films by marrying science fiction with profound human emotions such as love, trust, hope and betrayal, adeptly articulated by a well-chosen cast. The almost three-hour film begins with a slow burn, but quickly turns into the cinematic equivalent of a page turner, unfolding a major twist that packs quite a powerful punch until the very end. 

The film, set in the near-future, catapults test pilot and engineer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) into an ambitious mission to find another planet to sustain mankind, currently facing an imminent extinction brought by an agricultural crisis. Cooper, a cool family man with a cowboy-like swagger, is left with the painful choice to leave his loved ones behind without any assurance of coming back. He joins an elite secret group of NASA scientists, and travels the universe in a desperate search for mankind's future among the galaxies. Back on earth, his precocious daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) tries to crack a mysterious riddle that will haunt her for years to come.

Nolan's depiction of pre-apocalyptic earth shows an extremely austere and pared down version of mankind that focuses its entire energy solely on survival, in the process shunning scientific and technological endeavors deemed capricious and unnecessary for a planet that's about to die. The government is actively revising history to discourage interest in costly space exploration, and big ideas deemed irrelevant are ignored. 

Unlike other 'futuristic' films, the film's overall visual theme shows an ironically gritty and rustic version of earth, where the people's lifestyles seem to have reverted back to the 20th century. There are no fancy gadgets or even cellular phones, farming has become an imperative to survive, and space centers and astronauts give off an almost retro vibe. Nolan's concept of a future confronted by impending doom is nowhere as fancy as Apple's take on what's futuristic, but the special effects nonetheless convincingly and cleverly portray the future on a tight budget.

With a topnotch cast and an epic story of endurance and survival, this movie is a major force that very well occupies its spot among the best films fighting for Oscar glory next year.

Interstellar opens in the Philippines on Thursday.

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