Tag Archives: space travel

Interstellar – Review

19 Nov

It’s happened. It’s finally happened… All those years of watching movies of different genres, spirits, moods, and messages, and it’s finally happened. My brain should now be legally defined as mush. Christopher Nolan’s newest film, Interstellar is the new way to look at science fiction. There has been a series lack of space exploration movies that doesn’t have the Star Trek label. Really only Europa Report and Prometheus come to mind, but now we have Interstellar to add to the top of the list of science fiction.

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In the near future, Earth’s resources have been slowly disappearing leaving a barely surviving agrarian society. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former NASA pilot turned farmer who is recruited by Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) to travel through a wormhole found by Saturn. This wormhole leads to another galaxy where other scientists have begin studying different planets orbiting a black hole. Cooper is joined by three other scientists, including Brand’s daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway). The mission starts to experience some major problems, while the situation on Earth gets even more complicated when Brand reveals his plan isn’t as promising as he originally described it to be leaving Cooper’s daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain) to keep society from mass panic.

This is probably one of the best science fiction movies of the past decade, and may very well be the best science fiction movie of the past decade. I always figured Inception to be Nolan’s masterpiece, but Interstellar changes things. There are scenes in this movie that are absolutely mind blowing. It’s like Nolan took Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, and Doctor Who and just mushed it all together into one giant mosh pit of sci fi. It’s both quiet and majestic, while being equally intense and explosive. It’s hard to take your eyes off of it, even for a second.

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I’m a stickler for run times as I’ve made it quite clear so I was concerned when I saw Interstellar has close to a 3 hour run time. I don’t mind if a movie is long, but if it is, I don’t want that time to be wasted on scenes that really have no place in the finished movie. This isn’t a problem for this movie, and it’s equally impressive that Christopher and Jonathan Nolan were able to write a movie that’s this long and make it interesting the entire way through. The film starts off slow with a lot of physics talk and theories, but it all pays off when you see the physics in action when the astronauts blast off. The characters are also all really strong so spending a long amount of time with them is as dramatic and exciting as it can possibly be.

Finally, what would a review of this movie be without talking about the incredible effects and sound? Like Gravity, Nolan chose to make space totally silent in Interstellar, which is a great choice especially when something catastrophic is happening. There’s also a lot of great music by Hans Zimmer in the movie that can either make space beautiful or the situation of the astronauts deadly. One scene in particular when Cooper is trying to spin a ship to match the rotation of another part of the ship to dock had all three working in unison. The effects were dizzying and the silence of space mixed with Zimmer’s music made for the best part of the entire movie.

Prepare to be blown backwards and thrown all over the place by Interstellar, a movie that is sure to be recognized at this year’s Academy awards. It was a nice reminder, along with Birdman, that all of the excellent movies are going to be coming out. This one took science fiction and took it to a whole new level, along with philosophy. The same was done with the aforementioned 2001 and Solaris, and now Nolan’s true masterpiece continues the tradition. This was a mind boggling science fiction film of truly epic proportions.

 

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Solaris (1972) – Review

5 Jan

Who said science fiction had to be all about technology and the advances of the human race? Andrei Tarkovsky’s challenging yet rewarding film, Solaris, is about human emotion and the subconscious. It’s a deeply philosophical journey not just to space, but into the depths of a man’s mind. This may be a slow, long, and, at times, tedious movie but the feeling you get while watching it and then returning to earth again is well worth it.

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After receiving worrying transmissions by the three man crew of a satellite surrounding a distant planet, Solaris, ground control decides to send psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) to investigate. Upon getting there he finds that one of the crew members (Sos Sargsyan) has already committed suicide, leaving only Dr. Snaut (Jüri Järvet) and Dr. Sartorius (Anatoli Solonitsyn). Kelvin soon begins seeing his dead wife Hari (Natalya Bondarchuk) due to the sentient planet’s transmission of the subconscious into a strange reality. Kris and the other scientists have to bear with these beings and find some way of stopping Solaris from transmitting them onto the space station.

This is one of those movie that after it was done I sat back and pondered the fact that someone actually sat down and thought of this. Solaris is based off of a science fiction novel by Stanisław Lem, so a lot of the credit belongs to him. Tarkovsky also has to be given a lot of credit because his adaptation is quite different from the source materiel, and his handling of the pacing, characters, and events are all fantastic. This is a perfect combination of science fiction and philosophy, although, the movie can get really overwhelming and I found myself in need of a break at a certain point.

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This is the second film by Andrei Tarkovsky that I have seen, the other being Stalker. I’ve heard people say that Stalker is Tarkovsky’s most difficult piece of work. I would have to disagree. I found Solaris to be much more difficult. In Stalker, there are plenty of beautiful shots of nature and the whole feel is very spacious and organic. Solaris has a completely different feel to it. It’s cold an uninviting space station is an excellent contrast to the opening shots of a river and a small forest. Once we get to space, we are confined to the hallways of the station. Both films are three hours long, but Solaris felt much longer due to the overall atmosphere.

The only thing that may be more uninviting than the space station is my own subconscious, and I realize this thanks to Solaris. While this isn’t the only theme of the movie (the others being the fluctuating emotions of love, grief, and denial), it is the one that stuck out to me the most. The characters in this movie suffer from not being able to control their minds in a very different sort of way. They can control their mind, but they can’t control facing their deepest loves or regrets. Imagine waking up to a living being that represents some repressed feeling, and being forced to live with it.

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Solaris is beautiful, intriguing, philosophical, and haunting. While it is a difficult movie to sit through because of its overwhelming run time, pace, and mental intensity, it’s still very worthwhile and rewarding. I can’t say that I recommend this movie to anyone, because it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. To those who can appreciate the complexities of the story along with the way the story is presented will find lots to love in Solaris and will probably agree with me in saying that Andrei Tarkovsky is a master film maker.