Reasons I'm Excited for Interstellar

With the epic saga of Christopher Nolan's Batman series coming to a villainous conclusion in 2012, it's hard to imagine that the director's follow-up could generate as much excitement and hype. Personally as a fan of Nolan's work, I'm always amped up for any news of his planned projects. With the unexpected appearance by both Nolan and actor Matthew McConaughey at this year's San Diego Comic Con - where an epic new trailer was released - all sorts of reasons emerged of why I'm excited for the big hit of fall 2014. Let's pre-emptively rave about Interstellar.


The Contact Connection

Back in 1997, Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey starred in a little movie called Contact about aliens and space travel. Though it was a major hit during its initial release, over time some critics and audiences have recalled their initial raves. In many circles, it runs best as a cult movie. Lo and behold, Interstellar has shares an influential inspiration.

Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne published a paper in 1988 about interstellar travel through wormholes. His friendship to producer Lynda Obst, who worked on Contact, asked his advice of how the characters should travel through space. His idea of wormholes being a portal for travel incited an idea for a movie. Together working on the treatment, the original plot attracted director Steven Spielberg. Nolan's brother Jonathan was hired to work on the script, which then attached Christopher to helm the project now known as Interstellar. As the movie underwent plot changes, Spielberg dropped out and Thorne remained a producer and consultant.

CGI can make or break a movie - especially science fiction; a genre whose ambition is to take us through space, square off against alien lifeforms, or to another world outside of our Earthly dimensions. It may be pleasing to note that Nolan did not heavily rely on special effects. Similar to fully creating sets for Inception (which includes an elevator shaft and a fully rotating hotel hallway), the production of Interstellar received the same treatment. The spaceship used in the film is an actual set built, with Nolan commenting that the film is more like a documentary than a blockbuster. Also as a fan of digital technology and old-school film, Interstellar was created with a combination of 35 mm and IMAX.

The Cast

When Nolan casts his projects, he certainly knows how to pick 'em. Starting in 2005, Nolan's gritty Batman series turned heads when Christian Bale was chosen as the Caped Crusader, the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, and Tom Hardy was put on the map as Bane - to name a few. Even maybe more mind-blowing was the collection of actors that teamed up for Inception in 2010; Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ellen Page, Michael Caine...

Just when we think it doesn't get any bigger and better than that, with Interstellar it does:  John Lithgow, Michael Caine (as always), Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, and Matthew McConaughey. Information on the actor's participation in the film is limited, so there is no telling how big or small their roles will be - but the suspense is enough to keep us interested until we learn more.

Anne Hathaway
After Hathaway swept the award show floors in 2012 for her performance in Les Miserables, the internet (frankly) put her on their shit-list. What was the highlight (so far) of her career became the malevolent bane of society and pop culture. The world eventually made such clattering and berating criticism towards Hathaway, she agreed to go into hiding. Retreating with her new husband into a private life for the past year or so, the actress hasn't made many media appearances or had other films lined up to be released. I haven't been able to stop thinking that she is going to be in the movie since I saw the trailer. It's not necessarily a comeback because she has only been away from the silver screen for a year, but her return definitely feels like one. All of her haters be damned.

McConaissance Continues

Over the past two years one of Hollywood's biggest stars broke out from a typecast cycle of romantic leads. Changing up his filmography, McConnaughey turned heads in a variety of films like Bernie, Killer Joe, Mud, and Magic Mike. He caught attention and dozens of accolades for his stellar work in The Dallas Buyers Club and continued to impress in HBO series True Detective.

Winning an Academy Award does not indefinitely change the victor's career. It's a celebratory highlight of the movie year season but roles are still cast by people who are looking for a type rather than experience or awards. McConaughey is continuing to prove he's not a one-trick pony. To those who had been fans of the Southern cowboy star his "sudden" display of talent was no surprise. A new era had begun as early as 2011 and was dubbed the McConaissance. In the dozens of roles McConaughey has embodied, it's a bit surprising that all-American astronaut/engineer was not on his list of characters until now. Interstellar and McConaughey = no-brainer.

The Spielberg-ian trailers

Mankind needs help - as always. Set into the future, Earth has depleted its resources and corn is the only growable crop. Humanity faces its end until Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), an engineer and widowed father of two children, is called to engage in a space expedition to a wormhole that might save us all.

As mentioned above, originally attached to the 'treatment' of Interstellar was famed director Steven Spielberg. The most recent trailer still reflects characteristics famously known in Spielberg films; - a melancholy score by Hans Zimmer, the All-American protagonist, the storyboard of mankind, exploration, and mortality. 

Though the third trailer above gives us a bit more information and a blaring emotional 3 minute rollercoaster, I'll be the first to admit that the first trailer is certainly impressive too. What really grabs my attention from the promos so far is the depiction of man's discovery and his exploration into space, how far its fallen off of our radar as a society. For as beautiful as the special effects will undoubtedly look in theaters, they don't detract from the story of mankind's efforts of pioneering re-invention and discovery. The trailers really are just beautiful. You almost need to watch it three or four times to get the full effect. They're something I'm going to watch repeatedly until November arrives.

Individually and separately, time and space travel are a major attraction in cinema. A variety of genres have dealt with going back in time to stop a life-altering event, exploring alien planets, and trying to get home to Earth after a disastrous space mission. Decades of films have led the way of time travel and aeronautics as a major frontier for audiences; October Sky, Back to the Future, Looper, The Time Machine, The Time Traveler's Wife, Alien series, Prometheus, and 2001: A Space Odyessey - to name a few.Only last year, director Alfonso Cuaron left us stranded and floating in space alongside Sandra Bullock in the award-winning film Gravity. The latter became an all-time favorite of mine, but with Interstellar, I wonder: is this the science-fiction-drama-apocalyptic-humanity film we've been waiting for? I guess only time will tell and expectation will set the bar very high.

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