When something works in Hollywood, filmmakers, directors and actors want to get on board. Not too long ago, there was the giant surge in films and television shows related to vampires post Twilight. So what is Hollywood’s newest obsession? Space. With Gravity, Interstellar and the relatively newly released The Martian, viewers are transported to far off planets.
Gravity spearheaded the new fascination with cinematic space. However, while visually appealing, the movie fell flat in terms of plot line. Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, an astronaut who must survive alone in space after her spaceship is hit and she is detached from the remainder of her crew. Bullock’s performance stands strong, but personally, I found the movie dizzying as the majority of her screen time is spent spinning and tumbling through space.
Interstellar emotionally, intellectually, and visually takes the viewer on a ride. Joe Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, embarks on a mission to find a new planet suitable for human life. Earth is on the brink of destruction and thus Cooper decides to leave his family and loved ones behind. The catch— time moves slower for Cooper in space than it does on Earth. Thus, by the time Cooper and his crewmates would return, an unknown amount of years far exceeding their own journey would have passed on Earth. As Earth years spin by while on this mission, Cooper’s daughter, played by Jessica Chastain, grows up. She grows up without her father and joins the effort to save the human race. With supreme performances from McConaughey and Chastain, this movie touches the heart.
One failure of the movie was Anne Hathaway’s weak and whiney performance as a scientist on board Cooper’s crew. The fault does not fall on her as an actress, but rather the directorial choice to take this weak route with what should have been a strong female character. Overall, Interstellar explores intense moral and scientific quandaries. This movie is compelling and enjoyable. Don’t forget a box of tissues should you sit down for this wild ride!
The Martian’s baseline plot, man trapped on Mars, sounds cliché. However, the execution of this plot line was enjoyable and original. Matt Damon as Mark Watney portrays an extremely likable character. Shots of him alone are far from boring, as they become like time spent with a friend for the audience. Yes, handsome, famous, brilliant astronaut Mark Watney is somehow portrayed as the everyday likable man. This is epitomized in Watney’s epic line, “I am gonna have to science the shit out of this.”
However, this movie lacked the element of human relationships. While the movie featured Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and more, these characters fell flat, as the movie’s focal point was Watney’s life while abandoned on Mars. That being said, this heartwarming and well-acted tale of science, space, and the human will to live takes the viewer on an epic journey.
While I have greatly enjoyed exploration of space through film, these movies have definitely shown me I have no interest in becoming an astronaut.
Raquel Simpson, Online Columnist