With all the talk about “Gravity” becoming an Oscar favorite, it’s temporarily cooled all the previous talk about the upcoming Christopher Nolan film “Interstellar.” The latter is also going to take place entirely in space and be reportedly much closer to “2001” territory than “Gravity” wanted to be. Plus, “Interstellar” takes viewers into the deepest regions of space rather than being so close to Earth that you literally fall back to terra firma.
It might be odd to think that “Interstellar” was considered to be the breakthrough space movie for next year before “Gravity” received buzz. But “Gravity” set a new standard for the space movie by making it much more understandable and relatable. That isn’t something Christopher Nolan ever strives for, even though people go wild when he brings the best mind-bending scripts to the big screen.
His space movie falls into an interesting place now, especially if “Gravity” becomes a huge Oscar favorite. If “Gravity” becomes the best picture of this year, what does it do to the philosophy behind “Interstellar?” Nolan’s movie deals with inter-dimensional space travel as well as playing with time, all in a supposedly marketable way and an all-star cast. Ultimately, it sets up a polar opposite philosophy that could be competing with the “Gravity” crowd who may not have previously liked movies about space.
As popular as Nolan’s movies are, they’re really not made for the mainstream considering how much you have to think on multiple layers. Other than the abstract end of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, never before has film gone into exploring real theories behind alternate dimensions in the farthest universal regions. It’s a genre where someone may ask what the point really is other than those who obsess over the most profound cosmology.
Space as a foreign concept might not be in much now that “Gravity” made the atmosphere around Earth feel like a second home we know is as dangerous as our earthly highways. That doesn’t mean there can’t be two separate demographics for two different space movie genres in the future. Should “Interstellar” become the movie highlight of 2014, it’s going to set up two different paths for all the copycat movies ahead. One camp will want more human dramas in the universe we know and the other will look into the real science of deep space and take us far from conventional thought.
Then there’s the upcoming revival of the “Star Wars” franchise. In a sense, you can say “Star Wars” combines the best of the above two emerging genres. When you add in “Star Trek”, the most unknown parts of space are made to feel like home out of the familiarity of growing up with these characters in our childhood.
Yet, there seems to be divided camps in every film genre where some prefer a smarter edge and others want something more conventional. It’s happened to both dramas and (especially) comedies. Nobody saw it happening to the space movie when it’s been fairly consistent for decades.
Now if two back-to-back Oscar best pictures happen to space epics, it’s a matter of which genre ultimately wins out in the future. The space movie closer to home might be the winner once someone makes a movie that realizes inter-dimensional travel is probably more than possible in our universal backyard.