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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Interstellar

Here we go again, with Fishing in the Discount Bin...largely an endeavor to make me feel like I'm not wasting my life when I spend Saturday nights watching movies and blogging about them.   Time to fire up Christopher Nolan's latest opus, Interstellar.  This is originally in my notes at April 19, 2015.

Interstellar is just good sci-fi.  They tell this grand adventure tale built on scientific fact, exploring the consequences of those facts in the real world.  That being said, because it is a movie, they still have to bend reality a little bit to make things more entertaining.

I still go "Wha?" at that climax inside the tesseract.  After the grounded sci-fi film we got, it was a little too wibbly wobbly timey wimey for me.  In fact, I wonder if Christopher Nolan is a Trekkie, because that scene reminded me of what I read about the long-lost "memory wall" sequence from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

And at home, on my TV, I'm pleased to report that those spectacular visuals still measure up on the small screen.  Christopher Nolan is a lot like Robert Zemeckis, in that he really seems interested in pushing the limits of filmmaking technology.  But whereas Zemeckis goes more modern and digital, Nolan likes to keep it old school.  Which is why his preferred format of choice is IMAX, whereas the rest of the movie business is working towards 3D.  Watching it again almost makes me regret not seeing it in IMAX, because the space scenes really do have that sense of the science museum IMAX documentary about space.  Cutting the sound effects, so all we see are the visuals, just like in Gravity, really adds to the reality and tension of the situation.

Continuing the Nolan comparisons, this is a lot like Inception in that almost the first hour of the film is dedicated to the exposition.  First the world and the state it's in is set up, then we bring in the science to talk about what we're doing, and it all seems understandable.  At least, it is to me.

The characters, though...well, we really don't get characters as much as we get exposition machines, as the vast majority of their dialogue is explaining what's going on.  But at least the sci-fi trope of the wisecracking robot is alive and well.

Speaking of homages to other sci-fi films, I wonder if the robots were inspired by the Monoliths of 2001 fame?

2001 was the film that this got compare a lot to in its release, and it's easy to see why.  The vast expanses of space...an attempt to ground things in reality...a mysterious higher force pushing mankind towards a goal.  But Nolan takes those building blocks and provides us with something that's more of an adventure tale than a meditation on the nature of man and science.

It's good.  I liked it.  Not much more to say.

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