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Interstellar takes 2001 Space Odyssey to 21st Century

Movie Review: Interstellar takes the audience beyond the 2001 and 2010 movie frontiers

By Ray Hanania

2001: A Space Odyssey (score)

2001: A Space Odyssey (score) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was only 15 in 1968 when the science fiction movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” and it was a blockbuster that pushed our generation to the edge of imagination. We not only started to think about and imagine space travel beyond the Moon, but we also began thinking about the possibility of creatures beyond those created by nuclear testing in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

It also introduced the concept of Artificial Intelligence beyond the hooky character portrayed in the TV Series “Lost in Space” which premiered in 1965 and led many to accept the concepts that 2001 introduced in a bigger and more compelling way.

There was always something mysterious about the concept of moving into the 21st Century. The year 2000. I recall at age 13 wondering what the world would be like when we finally reached the year 2000. Turns out, it didn’t really change much. The technology we used was more accessible and computer were replacing manual typewriters and analogue machines.

Then, in 1985, when many believed the world might come to an end — a year after George Orwell’s frightening look at the tyranny of societies in “1984” — finally, someone did a sequel to 2001 called “2010: The Year We Make Contact” helped my now grown generation revisit the phenomenal concepts that 2001 offered in a serious way.

Many SciFi films came and went that provoked our minds about the possibilities of life beyond Pluto, which has since been downsized from one of our Solar System’s “planets” to a large asteroid that was more of a rock than a planet. There was ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Contact, which wasn’t bad but still not strong enough.

But now comes a film that takes our imagination beyond the stars, Interstellar. It stars Matthew McConaughey, who also starred in Contact, not your typical space cowboy. He’s a former astronaut living on Earth at a time when the world’s natural resources are beginning to quickly disappear. The planet is being consumed by dust storms that are destroying crops and life on Earth. It won’t be long before human life will be extinct, but as humans do, they come up with ways to deal with fear. They revert to ignorance and simplistic solutions. The drop the Space Exploration program and re-indoctrinate the public into believing that the space voyages begun by President John F. Kennedy were staged in movie theaters as a part of a plot to look better than the Communists. Naturally, NASA has to go underground.

Mysteriously, McConaughey’s daughter begins to see what appear to be messages from a ghost in her bedroom. Turns out the messages are a code that urges McConaughey to explore his country a little more in detail, only to discover a massive space secret project. And they want him involved. Basically, this secret space agency that is operating underground, has sent 10 exploratory missions into space through a Worm Hole, to planets they think might have the potential to host human life. Only a few respond and the race is on to discover which one might be Earth’s salvation. Lot’s of deceit, conflict, murder, mayhem, and an exploration of Albert Einstein’s theory of Relativity and the concept of life slowing down as human travel surpasses the speed of light.

The film offers many misleading directions in thought and expectations which makes it exciting. It’s not what you think and won’t be for a long time. It is almost 3 hours long, but it is captivating from start to finish. The Director, Christopher Nolan, leads us into many false ideas that are surprising and only get better.

The film includes a lot of great actors including John Lithgo as McConaughey’s father, Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain as McConaughey’s daughter, Murphy Cooper. Michael Cain comes in mid-movie and Matt Damon enters in the latter third as the plot becomes more sinister.

You will love it.

More importantly, as I have come to accept, what we see in the movies about science may begin as fiction but often become reality. This could be our future and rather than waiting until it happens, we should be planning for it now.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. He is the managing editor of the Illinois News Network www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com. Reach him at [email protected].)

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Managing Editor at Illinois News Network