Saturday, March 03, 2018

Movie Review: "Interstellar"

Last night, my fiancée & I watched "Interstellar". Admittedly, I pick space movies to watch a lot, so she wasn't too thrilled at first about watching it. However, we both really liked it & spurred conversation today about black holes, the nature of space-time, higher dimensions, relativity, space travel, and cosmic consciousness.

I found myself kind of internally criticizing some of the movie's more scientifically far-fetched scenarios, but it's just sci-fi & entertainment, after all. Despite the fictional nature of the story, it was full of questions & possibilities for real science.

"Interstellar" actually helped spur scientific research, through the process of creating accurate visual effects to simulate approaching a black hole. Interestingly enough, simulating black holes with computer graphics was the topic of my last blog post.

Besides the scientifically-inspired attempts at accuracy, the visuals in the movie had a transcendental effect similar to those of "2001: A Space Odyssey".

The interstellar craft approaching the black hole, "Gargantua".

The story takes place in an unspecified time in the near-future, when the population of Earth is facing a blight that is destroying crops. In a time of global famine and planetary depletion, NASA makes finding another world to inhabit a top priority.

The main character, Cooper, is a pilot who is recruited to travel through a known "wormhole" in space-time near Saturn. The wormhole leads to another galaxy, and appears to have been created by an advance collection of intelligent beings. Astronauts had been previously sent through the inter-dimensional tunnel to find inhabitable worlds in this new galaxy, and Cooper was chosen to join a crew to follow up on these missing scouts.

Cooper leaves both his daughter "Murph" & his son Tom behind, sacrificing his relationship with them to save them and the rest of the species. The familial connection between Cooper & his daughter is the driving force of the movie. Due to relativistic effects of traveling near the speed of light & entering powerful gravity wells around distant stars, there is a experienced time differential. Cooper ages at a rate much slower than his daughter, and also enter hibernation for periods of his journey. They can communicate through some kind of quantum data feed I believe, that allows the ship to receive messages, but they cannot send any back to Earth.

The film explores many of the effects that physical and cosmic forces would have on various modes of space exploration. The strange effects of the theory of relativity are fundamental elements of the story & visual effects.

Although the exotic physics concepts were enough to make "Interstellar" interesting, it then went into an almost metaphysical level. Without giving too much away, the movie shifted into a mind-blowing vision of higher-dimensional space, where time is no longer seen as a linear. It appeared as an almost spacial quality, where all space & time can be seen as an interconnected terrain that can be navigated like our familiar 3D experience.

The ability to enter this dimension, where all space & time exist, leads to a narrative loop that the main characters find themselves in. It turns out that humanity's destiny may be an existence as multi-dimensional energy beings. Cooper's encounter with this mode of reality ends up being the reason he gets there in the first place- leading to a circular causality that is reminiscent of the "grandfather paradox" in time travel.

"Interstellar" was a long film, (especially with Comcast's bullshit commercials, throughout an OnDemand movie) but it was well-worth watching. Yeah, some of it was pretty ridiculous, but it was really thought-provoking and visually stunning. Especially if you are interested in space travel, physics, cosmology, the idea of higher dimensions... or just enjoy a beautiful, mind-bending film, I definitely recommend this movie.

Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 8.5

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