"We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars," Matthew McConaughey says in the first act of "Interstellar," Christopher Nolan's new epic adventure. "Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt." That sentiment is what propels "Interstellar," a movie about a near future where Earth is down to its last crop (corn), the atmosphere is suffocated with dirt clouds and humanity's capacity for exploration has been pounded into dust. Enter McConaughey's Coop, a former pilot, and the last remnants of NASA (embodied by Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway), all of whom team up to find the residents of Earth a new home planet. (That's the other key theme in "Interstellar": "Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here.") Hype for "Interstellar" has been building for months, but does Nolan's latest blockbuster deliver? It kind of does! But not in the ways you might expect. Ahead, the four most effective parts of "Interstellar."
Renesmee From "Twilight" Is Better Than Jessica Chastain
Jessica Chastain is a great performer -- and she's got a couple of really affecting moments in "Interstellar" -- but she's not even the best actress playing her own character in the movie. That title belongs to Mackenzie Foy ("The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn"), who plays Chastain's Murph as a youngster. Foy has a lot of heavy emotional scenes with McConaughey, who plays her dad, and those bits act as a foundation for what Chastain does later. She's a revelation, and while not as highly touted as Chastain, McConaughey and Hathaway, it's the 13-year-old star who gives the film's best performance.
That Water Planet Is Dope
You know what's cool? Giant waves that look like mountains. The water planet, glimpsed in the above trailer, even allows Nolan to make a vague "Star Wars" reference: "Those aren't mountains, they're waves," says Coop, with a tone that recalls Obi-Wan.
The Ambition Is Contagious
It's dumb when people compare movies to roller coasters, because roller coasters move and movies do not. But "Interstellar" is so immersive that it does feel like a theme park ride. That's cool! It's an ambitious movie, stuffed with ideas both smart and silly and visuals that might make audience members dizzy (especially on an IMAX screen). It's rare that a filmmaker takes such a big swing in this era of homogenized blockbusters. Love "Interstellar" or merely feel like it's the equivalent of the shrug emoticon, Nolan's mere attempts here are reason enough to enjoy it.
Finally, A Movie That's Pro-Humanity
So often, movies about the end of the world focus on the evil that springs up from the chaos. Not "Interstellar," which treats our impending doom in a relatable way and makes a case that humankind is truly exceptional. Sure, our own failings led to the situation at hand in the first place, but who better than a scrappy bunch of people to clean up the mess? "Interstellar" believes in the best of us, even when we're being the worst. That's commendable in 2014. "Why not us?" "Interstellar" asks. Well, why not?