In INTERSTELLAR, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former astronaut, makes his living as a farmer with his two children and father in law. It’s the future, after crop blights have destroyed wheat and okra, and the survivors of the resulting famine must all dedicate themselves to farming, mostly corn, to keep the world going. Droughts produce massive dust storms, making this challenging. Governments haven’t so much collapsed as shrunk due to lack of tax revenue, with no standing armies and no interest in space exploration.
Through accident that appears engineered by some unseen force, Cooper is drawn to what’s left of NASA, which offers him a vital and unique mission–travel out to Saturn, where a mysterious alien species has placed a wormhole leading to another galaxy with habitable planets. While most of humanity is focused on making do with Earth, a group of visionaries see the writing on the wall–that the planet’s life-sustaining systems are dying–and that humanity’s only hope is to colonize one of these planets. So off Cooper goes with several explorers to visit these planets and find the original explorers who landed there to report back whether the planet was habitable.
The film has an epic feel to it, though the beginning is somewhat rushed. Once they get off Earth, things really get rolling. The film plays with concepts like time relativity, shows us strange worlds, builds conflict between selfish instinct and what’s good for the species, and offers amazing effects as the mission goes to hell. The film’s ideas are served up Hollywood style but are interesting and engaging. Overall, I enjoyed the ride despite the plot holes. In particular, Matt Damon’s character, Dr. Mann, a heroic explorer reduced by time and loneliness, was a terrific addition.
INTERSTELLAR reminded me a lot of sci-fi author Stephen Baxter’s MANIFOLD series, which was brilliant–and which I highly recommend, more so than the movie, if you’re interested in this theme. Whereas Baxter pulled no punches, INTERSTELLAR delivers more hope and humanity to please film-going audiences, and I was happy it did so with minimal saccharine.
Overall, it’s a good movie about how the long-term survival of our species may depend on a small group of people willing to venture out into space to find new worlds and resources for humanity to inhabit.