Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari

Hot wheels.

There are many reasons to choose from when deciding whether or not to go see Ford v Ferrari. Casting is the obvious reason. Despite Matt Damon and Christian Bale occasionally putting their feet in their respective mouths and a lot of people treating Damon like Hollywood’s version of Nickelback (whom are hated for no logical reason and, yes, I still listen to), both are fantastic actors who are always worth the price of admission.

Another obvious reason is to watch cars go fast. While some might argue the movie should feature more racing, it features plenty. I poke a lot of fun at elements of movies that are strictly there to provide exposition, but exposition is necessary and there are good and bad ways to do it. The non-racing scenes of Ford v Ferrari exposit in good ways, keeping you engaged in the film rather than making you check your watch every two minutes. More importantly, those racing scenes are worth it. They are filled with tension, great cinematography, and several cars going really, really fast.

In full disclosure, I am not a racing fan. I like fast cars and I especially like Formula One and Grand Prix cars because those cars trigger my engineering brain in both their aesthetics and mechanical design. But I do not watch races. Like golf and cycling, they are long and mind-numbingly redundant. Anyone who deliberately sits down and watches one of these things from beginning to end is either single or about to be. And don’t even get me started on the worst ahem..sport..ahem ever foisted on humanity known as NASCAR.

(Side note: I am huge baseball fan and you are wrong.)

Like catnip for gear heads. All of them.

Speaking of which, I have no idea if NASCAR fans are interested in a racing movie that features people speaking in intelligible accents not named Jeff Gordon. I am sure a movie featuring the famed Carol Shelby (portrayed by Damon) will draw them in, but those people probably won’t be too happy when the film insults stock car racing, basically calling it infantile and amateur (“all they do is turn left”). You bet I guffawed and the film does it multiple times.

If Damon and Bale do nothing for you and cars are just four wheels and an engine to you, how do you feel about story and characters? This film is a historical fiction doubling as a biopic of Shelby and racer Ken Miles (Bale). The story is about Shelby and Miles, with financial backing from Ford Motor Company, developing a supercar to race in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race, which I had never heard of prior to this film. The film takes place over 1965 and 1966, with the climax being the 1966 Le Mans.

(Side note: If you are a big racing fan and know the history of Le Mans, then you know that Ford began racing the Le Mans in 1964, not 1965. There are other small changes to the actual story too, so if you are the kind of person that cannot stand when movies doesn’t “stay true to the book,” then you should probably get over yourself.)

So pretty.

Like I said, Damon and Bale never disappoint, and this film is no different. Damon delivers a Shelby who is constantly being torn by loyalty to his friends, especially Miles, and loyalty to himself in the form of staying in control of the racing team. Bale delivers a cocksure Miles who seems to be on the edge of self-destruction, but is actually fully in control and aware of how his decision affect his family and friends. Both men are eminently likeable and sympathetic and you will have absolutely no trouble rooting for them. Especially when it comes to the Ford guys they have to deal with.

The whole reason Shelby is tabbed to lead and build a race team is because Ford CEO Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) is insulted by Ferrari owner Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) when a deal to purchase Ferrari is scuttled by Enzo. Ford II gives vice president Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) the green light for the racing team, tasking senior executive vice president Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) to be in charge. Ford II is a very dislikeable person, but in a conventional CEOs-are-narcissistic-dicks way. Iacocca is actually an advocate of Shelby and Miles, but his importance to the film is over once the team is established. Beebe is the guy you will hate by the end of this film, as he is consistently undermining Shelby and Miles, sometimes acting as if he trying to make them fail, even though they are his team. Lucas delivers a slimy, asshat of a character, every bit as loathsome as Shelby and Miles are sympathetic. Every time Beebe is talking, you hope somebody crushes his larynx with a wrench.

If we kill him do we get to keep the car?

If there is one negative thing about the film, it’s that the final couple of scenes after the climactic race are completely unnecessary. Without spoiling things for you (and definitely don’t Google the race if you don’t want spoilers), the film foreshadows something that may or not happen during the climax. The tension built on this is palpable and makes for a great experience for the audience as it plays out. Once the race is over, the tension releases and you, the audience, are perfectly satisfied. Then, these additional scenes happen and that satisfaction is undermined because everything in the movie had already received closure. Luckily, it is such a small part of the movie that you can just dismiss it as a figment of your imagination.

So, pick your reason. Good acting, good storytelling, a good villain, cool cars, not NASCAR – any or all are enough to justify spending money on this film. If anything, it will inspire you to go find out a little more about Ken Miles, Carroll Shelby, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It inspired me and now I know a lot more about that race and its history. Though, not enough to watch a real race.

Rating: Do not ask for any money back for any reason.

The Great Wall

By: Kevin Jordan

Resetting expectations.

GREAT WALL Promo Art - Color

I’m not sure how, but I managed to avoid trailers for The Great Wall until the night before the screening.  I wasn’t even trying to avoid them, I just hadn’t seen any for this particular movie.  Prior to seeing that trailer, I thought The Great Wall was a historical fiction in the vein of Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai.  Yes, I can hear you laughing.  When I saw those weird dragon-y looking monsters in the trailer, my immediate reaction was nothing.  My brain just froze for a few moments because there’s no way it saw what it just saw.  Was that really Matt Damon in a medieval monster movie?  Oh Matt.

The good news is that I reset my expectations by negative one million prior to watching The Great Wall, which allowed me to enjoy it quite thoroughly.  Yes, I can hear you laughing.  I’m not saying it was a good movie and I would never defend it if you told me it was terrible.  I’m just saying I enjoyed a February popcorn flick because I had the appropriate expectations going in.  Though, I do wonder what my reaction would have been had I not seen that trailer.  There’s a chance I would have hated it, but I don’t think so.  I probably would have just been incredulous for a while, then had that epiphany moment of “ooooohhhhh.  Oh ok.  Got it.”

As an added bonus, the 3-D projector got out of sync about thirty seconds into the film and almost blinded the audience.  Trust me, you don’t want to see how bright the green and pink are when the projector goes on the fritz.  I thought this was a bad omen at the time, but turned out to be the worst thing about a movie featuring monsters with eyeballs in their shoulders.

Somewhere, Guillermo del Toro is smiling.

Somewhere, Guillermo del Toro is smiling.

While you clean up that drink you just spit-taked all over, here’s a summary of this movie’s, um, plot.  Every sixty years, a horde of monsters attempts to breach the Great Wall of China to get to China’s capital so they can eat all the people there.  This fight has been going on for hundreds of years and the Chinese have developed a multitude of defenses, including color-coding their army by job, developing gunpowder (or black powder, as the movie refers to it), installing massive scissors in the middle of the wall, and convincing the fairer sex to bungee jump off of giant outcroppings into the monster hordes with nothing but a spear and a hope that the monsters don’t time their jumps properly or jump in quantities of more than one.

Meanwhile, William (Damon) and his pal Pero (Pedro Pascal) are searching for black powder in order to take some back to Europe to sell and get rich.  After being chased by Mongols and killing a monster, they end up at the wall and are taken prisoner by the Chinese Army.  When the Chinese guard can’t find the key to open a prison cell, they take William and Pero to the top of the wall and put them in timeout (no, I did not make any of that up).  The monsters attack, Willem Dafoe shows up, and William and Pero save the day.  I guess all the Chinese really needed was Archery Jason Bourne.

The rest of the movie is a series of monster attacks and nifty Chinese counter-measures, with a pinch of Pero and Sir Ballard (Dafoe) plotting to escape with some black powder during the next attack and William stepping into the Hero’s Journey role of hero quite nicely.  He’s reluctant at first, has a special skill, falls for the lady general, Lin Mae (Jing Tian), slays some monsters, falls from grace, gets back up again, and flies a hot air balloon running on gunpowder to save the capital.  If you hadn’t figured it out by now, this movie is bat shit crazy.

Taste the rainbow.

Taste the rainbow.

Since I enjoyed the film, I’m not going to tear it apart any more than I already have because it doesn’t really deserve it.  It knows what it is and runs with it.  However, there is one plot element that is too stupid to let go and that would be Sir Ballard.  He tells William and Pero that he has been there for twenty-five years, which makes no sense when the Chinese generals tell us that they kill all interlopers in order to “keep their secret.”  Dafoe has no skill we are ever shown and the only reason they don’t execute William and Pero is because they brought the leg of the monster they killed and the Chinese thought it might be useful to keep the two of them around for a while.  So why is Dafoe alive?  Did the Chinese generals watch Platoon before they caught him and were terrified or are they just big Spider-Man fans?  Either way, his character is absolutely pointless.

By now, you must be wondering if I lost my mind for during this flick.  As ludicrous as this movie is, you can see that they at least tried to put some thought into elements of the film, though story wasn’t really one of them.  The creatures are pretty creative, even if shoulder eyeballs is funny no matter how many times you say it.  Also, the eyes are their vulnerability, so William’s ability to Robin Hood (it’s a verb now) is extra vital and kind of hilarious at the same time.  I already mentioned some of the defenses, which really satisfy that 12-year old kid in me, as did the visual effects in the film.  And, despite a pretty bad Irish (I think) accent from Damon, he and Pascal have a pretty good chemistry together and Pascal brings some quality comic relief to the table as well.  Not to mention Jing Tian was quite good and her role as leader felt authentic.  She didn’t take shit or fall into the typical trap of deferring to the hero and the movie was better for it.

She's trying to decide where that knife should go.

She’s trying to decide where that knife should go.

Yes, this movie definitely belongs in February and sounds like a cheesy SyFy channel flick, but I feel like the filmmakers gave this film an honest effort.  Maybe I was just in the right mood after watching the abysmal Fist Fight two nights earlier, but sometimes that’s all that matters.  Yes, I can still hear you laughing.

Rating: Worth a Redbox rental unless monster siege movies are your thing – then you’ll love this movie.

Jason Bourne

By: Kevin Jordan

What, no clever title this time?

image001 (2)

Seriously?  That’s the best title they could up with?  Considering The Bourne Redundancy is the most fitting, but worst for marketing purposes, I can kind of forgive them.  But do you know what the worst part of the title is?  It screws up the DVD shelf.  The first three movies in their viewing order are also in alphabetical order (take your time).  While Jason Bourne is in alphabetical order with respect to the franchise, it’s not with respect to the entire movie shelf.  Now there has to be a J movie in the B’s and that’s just wrong.  And don’t even get me started on the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies – what a cluster.  My point is that, like its title, Jason Bourne is a generic film rehashing the same plot we’ve seen in every Bourne movie.

Don’t get me wrong, the film delivers on what we’re there for in the first place – Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) kicking ass.  It’s just the stuff surrounding it is very tired.  In a nutshell, here’s the movie – CIA agent discovers that someone wants to publicly out a black ops program (Ironhand), CIA director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) jumps to the conclusion that Jason Bourne is behind it, young female go-getter agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) promises to deliver Bourne and save the day, Bourne meets up with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), action-action-action, a Bourne-like asset (Vincent Cassel) is activated to take out Bourne, more-action, Bourne remembers some stuff, Dewey and young go-getter butt heads, climax scene, the end.  With the exception of small details and tweaks, that describes the first two sequels to a tee.  I even joked about it in my review of The Bourne Legacy – that the movies are very redundant of each other.  And this doesn’t make any sense because the books these movies are based on aren’t like that.

This looks familiar.

This looks familiar.

(Without sounding too redundant, very mild SPOILERS coming up.)

The strange thing about the film is that the very first thing we hear is Bourne’s voice telling us that he remembers everything.  If that were true, then why is he off on another crusade to learn about his past?  Several times throughout the movie, Bourne experiences flashbacks revealing things he didn’t previously know or remember.  This time around, the memories are of his father’s death and the circumstances surrounding Jason’s recruitment into the program.  I understand that they’ve tweaked it to be that his memory of the event isn’t the actual truth, but it still boils down to learning about his past.  Maybe you still want that out of these films, but I’m well beyond over it.

This is what we're here for.

This is what we’re here for.

To make matters worse, he’s not even actively searching for answers in the beginning, he’s street fighting.  He only gets drawn in because Nicky shows up at a fight to tell him what she found out about his father and the Treadstone program after hacking the CIA.  Incidentally, this is where that conclusion leap happens by the CIA director – someone hacks into the black ops files and, even though there is nothing to suggest it’s Bourne’s doing, it must be Bourne.  Thank you captain contrivance.

The truly missed opportunity with this movie is that it could have kicked off a narrative from the books surrounding an assassin known as the Jackal.  Instead of revisiting the same tired what’s-my-past story, why not have the go-getter agent secretly recruit Bourne to help take out the Jackal?  Let’s say the Jackal is taking out their assets and they need someone equally skilled who is outside the program to help.  You could even keep the head-butting between Dewey and Lee.  When people complain about Hollywood not being original, this is what those people mean (even though those people don’t realize it, instead couching it in the form of whining about sequels and reboots).  Heck, you could even keep a smidge of the what’s-my-past story by having Lee dangle information in front of Bourne as his payment.  This isn’t exactly a new plot either (Mission: Impossible and The Jackal both use it, to name two), but it’s fresh to this series.

In all fairness, the plot of this movie didn’t really bother me; I’m just noting that we’ve been here several times before.  The one thing that did bother me is how bad they handled integrating current issues into the narrative.  Ironhand (the black ops program) is nothing more than the CIA working with a social network developer (Riz Ahmed) to have a backdoor into said network (Deep Dream – a name as uninspired as the movie’s title) to collect everybody’s information to – say it together with me – “keep us all safe.”  Hilariously, the movie tries to simultaneously emphasize the importance of privacy, but both just come off as trite and irrelevant and sound as bungled and tone-deaf as our real-life politicians.  This might have worked if the movie had focused on this as its main plot, rather than Bourne’s past, but, well now I’m starting to sound repetitive.

They're worth it.

They’re worth it.

Much has been written by critics and users about how the new Star Trek movie is nothing special, that it’s more like a mid-season episode of a television series with nothing new to say.  Jason Bourne is very much the same.  But, is that a bad thing?  Most of us watch those repetitive shows precisely for the familiarity and formula and count the days to next week’s episode.  Most importantly, if you’re a fan of Damon or Vikander, you will be very pleased with this film.  It’s just that with movies, a multi-year wait in between episodes leads us to want more out of the movie.  At the very least, they could have given us a more familiar title.

Rating: Ask for four dollars back.  Or two if you like Damon and Vikander as much as I do.

The Martian

By: Kevin Jordan

Fictional humans on Mars is better than nothing.

martian

A friend and I were chatting about space stuff, and one of the things we discussed was NASA’s current estimate of launching a manned mission to Mars by the mid-2030’s.  She was crestfallen when I said “no chance” and explained to her why that’s a pipe dream.  (We were supposed to have a replacement for the space shuttle by 2010 – which is now estimated for 2024 – and that was just for lifting astronauts to the International Space Station just 250 miles above the Earth, as opposed to the roughly 35 million miles to Mars.  You do the math.)  So, both of us will most likely be dead before that ever happens (and I’m still in my thirties).  The closest she and I will get to seeing that achievement is by watching movies like The Martian.

There are many movies that are easy comparisons to The MartianGravity, Apollo 13, Red Planet – really, any space movie in which disaster strikes and the character(s) must survive an impossible situation.  (Castaway is an appropriate comparison as well).  The one thing that differentiates The Martian from those other films is that The Martian doesn’t take itself so seriously.  That’s not a complaint about those other films, but it’s what makes The Martian feel like a breath of fresh air (and a sorely needed one in this genre).  It’s nice sitting through a movie in which characters aren’t hyperventilating every other scene or playing tic-tac-toe to decide which button she should push because the writer or director was too lazy to make the character smarter than an airlock.

(Mild SPOILERS ahead and, also, he dies at the end.  Or not.  Gotcha.)

Matt Damon plays the title character, astronaut Mark Watney.  He and his team are on the surface of Mars when a massive storm forces them to evacuate to the relative safety of space.  While making their way toward their escape rocket, Mark is hit by a piece of debris that destroys his health monitor, renders him unconscious, and knocks him out of visual range of the rest of the crew.  Captain Lewis (Jessica Chastain) is forced to leave him for dead in order to save the rest of the crew and they all leave the planet.  When Mark awakes, he is alone, but his suit is intact and their habitat survived the storm.  Since you are an intelligent movie goer, you immediately begin to list problems because you understand that (a) the ship cannot turn around because they don’t have the supplies to do that and still make it back to Earth alive, (b) the shortest current travel time to Mars is eight months, so Mark must survive at least that long, and (c) how long can Mark survive in the habitat given there is most definitely not enough food and water to last even the minimum eight months?  Those are all good points and I’m not going to address any of them because I think you should pay money to watch this film.

But I will tell you a little bit about the characters, which will give some hints as to what happens.  For starters, Mark is a botanist and the previews show him growing stuff.  Part of the fun of this movie is how he solves problems like that, so from now until you see this movie, see if you can figure out how he does that (and, no, there are no plants of any kind already growing in the habitat prior to the disaster).  Going back to what I said earlier, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, so Mark is presented as a rational, level-headed, non-panicky guy trying to make the best out of the worst possible situation imaginable.  Much of the movie is presented as him speaking to recording devices throughout the habitat and we see him making light of situations, thinking and talking out problems and solutions, and choosing the exact right moments to cuss.  It’s the perfect way to present this movie because there is always tension in the background (you are always waiting for something to go wrong), but is overshadowed by Mark’s resiliency.

The crew is presented the same way, but the five of them are really the equivalent of one character.  Captain Lewis is the brain, the serious leader who must make all the hard choices.  Martinez (Michael Pena) is the mouth, providing the comic relief.  Johanssen (Kate Mara) is the heart, balancing the voices of reason with the voices of emotion.  Beck (Sebastian Stan) and Vogel (Aksel Hennie) are the limbs, providing feedback to the body, but mostly just doing what they are asked.  While it seems like they should have a bigger role in the movie (considering their acting chops), they are minor supporting characters.  And, of course they are, they’re on their way home – what can they do?

The major supporting characters are the folks at NASA who are trying to figure out how to keep Mark alive long enough to mount a rescue mission.  The main players are Director Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and his direct reports – Montrose (Kristen Wiig), Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), supported by a mix of managers (Sean Bean, Benedict Wong) and techies (Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, Benedict Wong).  Like the Mars crew, the NASA crew Voltron themselves (yes, I just made a verb out of Voltron) into a single entity, each character providing a different trait.  The difference is Sanders, Montrose, and Kapoor have the most screen time, aside from Matt Damon, so they are much more fleshed-out than the ship crew and provide more than a single trait.  The biggest surprise for me was Wiig.  I normally end up despising her characters, but her Montrose was a much more likable character and her delivery was far superior than past performances (especially when delivering humor).  This time, I actually wanted her character to succeed rather than die in a spontaneous mission control accident.

Besides all of that, the most enjoyable thing about the movie is the realism.  Unlike the pie-in-the-sky science of Red Planet or the idiocy of Gravity’s physics, everything that happened in The Martian seems like someone thought about it for more time than it takes to toast bread.  From the food to the fuel to the travelling to the air to the rescue mission solutions to the matching relative velocities, it never felt like the movie was asking me to stretch the definition of “suspend your disbelief” to the point of making my brain cry.  I’m sure there is some liberty taken with the science, but if the average layperson (me) didn’t spot it without Neil Tyson DeGrasse pointing it out, then the filmmakers did a good job.

Thinking about this movie afterward, it might just be the best film I’ve seen all year.  At the very least, it’s the most complete.  The story is simple, thoughtful, and doesn’t have any glaring, obvious plot holes (this isn’t a surprise considering it’s based on a novel of the same name by Andy Weir.  But, nice adaptation by Drew Goddard).  The visuals are wonderful and even the 3-D was better than usual, providing some amazing depth and color (though I did learn a tip for 3-D viewing, you must sit dead center on the screen – I know, duh, right?).  Matt Damon nails his performance, as do the make-up and costume guys (I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned them before, but it had to be said here).  But most importantly, it’s a movie you’ll want to watch many times over, because besides being a great movie, at this point, the zombie apocalypse is going to happen before we see an actual human on Mars.

Rating: You definitely underpaid for this movie.  Even if you paid twice.

Interstellar

By: Kevin Jordan

It’s all relative.

Interstellar

Two years ago, one of the best movies I’d ever seen – Cloud Atlas – went largely ignored by the American public.  It was an amazing movie that was meticulously crafted and beautiful to behold, but poorly marketed and horribly misunderstood by many critics.  Then, last year, Gravity came out and every critic thought they’d seen the best science fiction movie in the history of ever, despite that Gravity had almost no plot, contradicted its own physics as well as factual reality, featured a grand total of two characters – neither of which was well-developed, and had nothing at stake beyond the main character’s own life (seriously – how did not a single critic note that if she had died, it wouldn’t have mattered to anyone or anything because she had no family and she wasn’t trying to save or stop anything from happening?!).  Sure, it had cool special effects, but Michael Bay’s been doing that for years and nobody has ever accused his movies of being Best Picture material.  Now, we have Interstellar, the latest from Christopher Nolan, as our annual fall sci-fi flick and again, an oddball response from the main-stream critics (by which I mean those who are featured on Rotten Tomatoes) and a “fresh” rating of only 73%.

I’m not going to trash the critics like I did in my John Wick review, but sometimes I think they have a form of brain damage that occurs temporarily and randomly and causes them to hate something in a movie that they absolutely loved in another movie.  In Gravity, the critics loved the realism and science – even though both of those things were wildly inaccurate – and thought the story was incredibly riveting, even though it was incredibly generic and predictable.  In Interstellar, they deride the science and realism – even though both are driven by pure theory, thus open to all kinds of imagination – and thought the story was tedious and boring at times, even though it was never either of those things.  It doesn’t make any sense –unless they have brain damage.

But enough of that – let me tell you why this movie is far and away the best movie of the year.

Interstellar is the kind of hard-core science fiction that reminds you of guys like Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, and Larry Niven – guys that wrote science fiction that was both incredibly creative and scientifically fascinating.  All of them used prevailing theories or topics of the time to build their universes and write about what-if scenarios and their possibilities.  What if humanity developed regular space travel?  What if humans fought intergalactic wars?  What if wormholes were real?  Those guys asked those questions with more depth than something like Star Wars – they actually cared about the consequences of things like relativity with regards to faster-than-light travel or acceleration and deceleration to and from high velocities.  Interstellar follows in their footsteps by including things like wormholes and black holes and then imagining the effects of those things.  As a science fiction fan, I was geeking out worse than a man dressed up like a Reaver at comic-con finding himself locked in a room with Summer Glau.

Interstellar takes place in a future an indeterminate number of years from now.  Blights have decimated global crops, starvation has killed millions and the situation has gotten to the point where corn is the only crop left that will grow.  Oh, and massive dust storms regularly ravage the land and everything is constantly covered by a layer of dirt.  Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, an engineer/pilot-turned farmer, ekeing out a living with his son Tom, daughter Murph, and father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow), on their farm.  One day, with some help from Murph, Cooper stumbles upon a secret NASA installation and Cooper is recruited by Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway) to captain a space mission to find a new planet to colonize.  Yes, it’s an amazing coincidence that Cooper just happened to have been previously trained to fly their specific space plane and just happened to live within driving distance of the secret facility without them knowing it, but you’ll just have to live with it.

Anyway, Brand explains to Cooper that a wormhole appeared near Saturn and that they have already sent twelve explorers through to find suitable planets for humans.  Since communications through the wormhole are spotty at best, Cooper’s mission is to go to the best candidates to retrieve the explorers and their data and return to Earth.  In parallel, Brand is working on finishing a formula that will allow them to manipulate gravity to the point where they can launch an entire station off the Earth and through the wormhole to start the colony.  All of that is Plan A.  As a Plan B, Cooper’s ship is being loaded with 9,000 fertilized human eggs to be used to start a new colony in case they are unable to return or must explore further for a suitable planet.

Ok – I know that’s a whole of detail there, but I wanted to make sure you understand that this movie’s plot is far more detailed and layered (I’ll get to the other layers in a moment) than the incredibly shallow plot of Gravity.  Plus, there’s more at stake than just the entire human race.  Due to relativity, Cooper and his crew will age slower (when they travel) than the people of Earth, so they can’t just succeed – they also have to finish and get back before all of their loved ones age and die.  How freaking awesome a concept is that (I told you I was geeking out hard)?!

Time dilation is also one of the consequences I talked about earlier and one of those hard core science concepts that is hard to grasp, but included in most science fiction dealing with travelling through space.  Basically, the concept is that the faster a person moves, the slower time passes for that person relative to the people who are not moving with them.  This is showcased in the movie during a sequence in which one of the planets they visit is near the event horizon of a black hole.  Because the planet is moving incredibly fast around the black hole, seven years will pass on Earth for every hour that passes on that planet.  In other words, if Cooper and crew spend three hours on that planet, his kids will age twenty-one years during that same.  Considering Cooper’s driving force is to get back to his kids, he probably doesn’t want to find out if Starbucks has already found that planet.

Because I think this movie is awesome, I won’t reveal anything else about the planets they visit – which are visually spectacular – or anything else from a plot perspective in the movie, but I do want to talk about the other main topic in this movie – human emotions and motivations.  One reviewer claimed that you won’t care about the characters’ fates because they are poorly developed, but nothing could be further from the truth.  In addition to trying to save the human race, Nolan looks into the human element of such a grave task.  We get to run the gamut of greed, stubbornness, despair, love, fear, betrayal, courage, anger, and deceit among the main characters.  Hell, even the intelligent robots display their humanity, adding humor and sacrifice to the list.  And, yes, I did say robots.

As if the story and visuals weren’t enough, the acting is great and the music and sound are off the charts.  In order to get the audience emotionally invested, the actors have to convince us to connect with them and boy, do they ever.  There were a couple of times during the film when I felt myself tearing up with the actors, a couple of times I wanted to shout warnings to them, and other times when I was just as angry as they were.  And, if the actors don’t suck you all the way in, the music finishes the job.  If you’ve never quite understood the meaning of palpable, you will after this movie.  Not only does the Imax make you feel the music and sound, but the tone of the different pieces fit their scenes perfectly, even when there is silence.  The music alone is enough to make you feel some of the emotions wrought during the film; so good it’s almost its own character.

I know I’ve gone for a while and gushed for a lot of it, but it’s only because I haven’t seen a movie this close to perfect since Cloud Atlas.  My biggest hope is that Interstellar has a better marketing campaign than Cloud Atlas and that it crushes the box office.  Actually, my biggest hope is that this movie wins Best Picture because there hasn’t been a movie even in the same ballpark as Interstellar this year and it would restore some faith that the Academy isn’t completely worthless even if most main-stream critics are.

Rating: Worth more than the next best five movies combined.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t blink for the entire 169 minute running time.