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Interstellar | Review | Film

Interstellar

Interstellar is not 2001: A Space Odyssey, so get that out of your head right now. Christopher Nolan’s space-bound, more than featured length epic certainly shares some DNA with Kubrick’s classic, but in reality what you get is something quite different.

Interstellar poster

One similarity is that you can explain the basic premise without telling you much about the film at all. In a nutshell, Interstellar follows Cooper, a former pilot and engineer who exists in an age when the human race is grinding to a halt as it is running out of food. Despite culture debunking the Apollo moon landing as a hoax, to focus people on solving the problems on their doorstep instead of looking to the stars, in the end it is the stars which present the only real chance of saving humanity.

This time it’s personal

Coop's family and their battle with blight on their crops feels close to home at times
Coop’s family and their battle with blight on their crops feels close to home at times

Cooper’s own journey, and his relationship with his family is the real story though, with sci-fi merely providing the crisis to put things under pressure. Matthew McConaughey, who plays Coop, is very much the star here, delivering a very relatable and likeable performance in what was a critical role to sell the concept of the story to the audience.

The supporting cast keeps going and going, with the introduction of each new character bringing another “Oh it’s that guy” moment, though this is by no means a bad thing. Jon Lithgow and female lead Anne Hathaway stand out as the strongest performances, as the former fulfills a Jiminy Cricket-type role to Coop before he leaves Earth, while the latter jumps between believing in science and love as the increasingly head-scratching plot progresses.

Matthew McConaughey drives the film as engineer turned astronaut Cooper
Matthew McConaughey drives the film as engineer turned astronaut Cooper

From Nolan past films you may already have an idea what to expect here, leaving the somewhat more obvious Dark Knight Trilogy to one side, there’s always a cerebral element to his films, particularly Inception. You can almost watch the film in two ways: trying to make sense of the science and sci-fi or taking each thing as it comes and focusing on the human element. Nolan does a good job of balancing the two, meaning there is enough to keep a wider range of film fans engaged.

Despite Nolan’s experience though, the final act does require a bit more brain power and could easily lose some, particularly the open-to-interpretation final shot. Not thinking about it all too much is the best way to enjoy it, although a lot of the science is actually fact, even if it is baffling. The perceptive may pick something up early on which reveals more about the finale than Nolan may have intended.

Style or substance?

Without a doubt the film is a visual feast more often than not
Without a doubt the film is a visual feast more often than not

Visually the film certainly lives up to the recent depictions of space, particularly Gravity – in fact the film could be described as a more action-packed version of that very film in some ways, and that’s by no means a bad thing. The depiction of the wormhole, which provides the celestial doorway to far-flung planets, and the black hold found on its far side are particularly stunning, and give you a real sense of scale.

As usual, the silent depiction of space itself (due to it being a vacuum) is incredibly striking, and adds another dimension to some of the action set pieces. The score too does a lot to add to the atmosphere too, with Hans Zimmer stepping away from the somewhat distinctive sound of the past few Nolan films to something more soft and quite haunting in places.

Providing you have the patience for a three-hour film, which can slow down at a couple of points, but not quite enough to lose your attention, then Interstellar is an impressive film with a good sense of scale and solid characters. That said, it won’t set your world on fire, particularly is Nolan’s style of filmmaking has struck a nerve in the past. Much like Gravity it’s a film worth watching for any film fan but only the committed will jump in again to unpick it’s layers.

Rating: 3/5

James Michael Parry

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The Dark Knight Rises | Film Review | This Is Entertainment

Hand-breakingly good actionWith its predecessor raking in critical acclaim from across the globe, not to mention two Oscars, the deck could not be stacked higher against The Dark Knight Rises. Quite amazing then, that the film generally manages to escape the shadows of previous films to hold its own and live up to its legacy.

Eight years have passed since Batman vanished after taking the blame for Harvey Dent/Two-Face’s killing spree at the climax of TDK and the years have not been kind. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is a recluse, Wayne Enterprises has been hit hard and there is a storm coming – a storm led by build-like-a-tank supervillain Bane.

The Nolan incarnation of Bane is far removed from the hulkish giant found in Batman’s most tragic cinematic outing, Batman and Robin (which, interestingly, Bale was almost cast as Robin in). Bane circa 2012, played to perfection by Tom Hardy, is a calculating and brutal terrorist, intent on bringing Gotham to justice. Sounding familiar? That’s because justice was the driving force behind Ra’s Al Ghul’s assault on the city back in Batman Begins.

In fact the ties with Director Christopher Nolan’s first venture into Gotham City keep popping up, almost as if the franchise has gone full circle. Unfortunately it does mean that the continuity seems odd, as TDK now doesn’t quite fit as well with the other two, despite sharing most of its name with the latest film.

The returning cast is on fine form, with Bale, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman slotting in to their establish roles reliably. It’s Caine though that really pushes the envelope emotionally, with the most touchingly tearful speech of the trilogy.

Newcomer Anne Hathaway as cat burglar Selina Kyle, or Catwoman as she’s better known, is a delicious blend of deadly and sexy, instantly convincing as the opportunist thief making the best of a bad time in a bad town.

Bane does the Caped Crusader some damage.The other two new faces of note quickly give a suggestion of the film’s mind-bending edge, since they both feature in Nolan’s last blockbuster – 2010’s Inception. Marion Cotillard’s shrewd investor Miranda is the first suggestion that the business world of Gotham is bigger than just Bruce Wayne. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Gotham cop John Blake, who provides a new point of view as the audience follow for much of the film, as the characters we know change before our eyes.

Gary Oldman continues his Oscar-worthy turn as Commissioner Gordon. This time around Gordon is held back from the front line, forced to let youngsters like Blake take the lead. Oldman perfectly depicts the character’s mixture of frustration, as he struggles to stay in control of his city, and regret, at keeping the truth about Harvey Dent a secret.

The spectacle of this film is undoubtedly the greatest of the three, with the sound and cinematography reaching new heights, something particularly noticeable when viewed in IMAX. The film’s plot is a double-edged sword however, simultaneously too complex and too simplistic. Some characters aren’t given the time they deserve, and the lack of a central driving force like Heath Ledger’s Joker really tells, as the smaller plot lines conflict and fight for attention towards the final act.

Nolan went into this film to meet the challenge of making a compelling final instalment to a trilogy, something notoriously difficult to accomplish, and thanks to his passion and dedication as a director, succeeds in making a film up to the calibre of the other films, but falls short of surpassing them.

Rating: 4/5

pictures courtesy: breitbart.com