I have been thinking about Interstellar a lot since I saw it last Saturday. I like what Sam Thielman said about the film, which is mainly that character development gives way to plot in every way. You could almost say that the only two constants in the universe of Interstellar are gravity and McConaughey’s character, Cooper.
Even the plot has some early gaps. Primarily, Nolan has to get these people into space as quickly as possible in order to start showing us some really incredible visual effects. Backstory with potential, be damned. Once there, we can safely enjoy the ride without fear of being disappointed by the price of our IMAX ticket. Nolan is a great director: he knows how to make a movie that audiences will love, even if we don’t understand everything that’s happening.
I didn’t get all the space and multi-dimension stuff in the theater. But I respect that Nolan didn’t water down the science, even if the science is what makes the film hard to follow. At some points, the music overwhelmed the dialog so that I couldn’t make out exact explanations of events or phenomena. Suppose that’s the movie telling us that the emotion is what matters more than the quantum physics. I like that.
But here’s the kicker for me: I wasn’t sure when I left the theater if Interstellar was a good movie. I’m not going to address it’s length besides saying that it was too much movie for one movie. I get all the science stuff (or I get that it is science stuff), and that’s cool. I get that in some ways this movie is an ode to a time when space seemed like a place we could go and conquer. I’m for that, I’m pro-NASA. I just can’t decide if things got too complicated outside the characters to make their interpersonal interactions really meaningful. That’s what makes a good story to me. The only time a real human feeling breaks through the wormhole is the sequence with Matt Damon’s character. That taps into something deeper—way deeper. That whole scene is just buzzing with that question: what must it be like to be all alone on a cold planet literally millons of miles away from Earth and know that you will never be rescued? Oh, and his character’s name is Dr. Mann. That’s deep, too.
I have to admit, despite my hesitation about Interstellar as a great movie, I have thought about it, talked to friends about it, even googled science facts trying to understand it better. If the quote at the top of this blog means anything at all, then maybe Interstellar is a good flick. I’m just not certain.
Don’t let this review keep you from seeing the movie. It’s fun…I just think that for all the fireworks, it’s missing that big bang.
We had many of the same thoughts and emotions. I described it to James as Christopher Nolan had the money and freedom to make his own, personal high-production pornography. My perfect porn would involve hiking, sports, and hand-jobs. His involves upside down twirly gravity in the future relativity time-lapse earth blight reality possibility scientific universes and Matt Mc. I thought it was Matt Mc in space doing crazy shit. HOWEVER, I fucking loved it! I had so much fun watching this movie. Had Nolan attained sci fi perfection then I'm not sure I would have had fun. I might have called it a good movie -- because then it would have really taken me somewhere -- but I wouldn't have had as much fun. I mean, 2001 Space Ody is work to watch, right? I even enjoyed the rushed parts of this. Some were so rushed that it felt like I was watching a B movie. That's interesting isn't it? I need to think more about that (possible to mix A list and B list movie making practices?).
I loved it. I thought the whole thing was a blast. I loved the cast and the score/music/soundtrack was really cool. Ultimately, I'm a sucker for blight, the future, deep space, decent tunes, and Matt Mc. I didn't need the emotion that wasn't there. I just needed the fun stuff. This might be the theme of Christopher Nolan -- I can't recall any moral/value introspection I've had during any of his movies. But I do say things like, "Whoa, Inception was so much fun and cool and expensive." In this way, Nolan movies are like your first European travel experience -- everything looks so cool and inviting, and then you realize that Europeans can be annoying just like Americans can -- we're all B-Listers, Nolan included.
Last things I'll say, I don't tell everyone to go see it. I only tell certain friends to go see it. I know many people that will hate it. I also know some good souls that will join me and Nolan on our cinematic pleasure cruise. (Weirdest sentence I have ever written, that last one). I'm going to predict that Luke will only like certain parts of this. I think he will think that most of the movie is wasting his time -- and I won't disagree with him. But I'll have fun on that re-watch.
Interstellar is a fantastic movie. I mean, Interstellar was fantastic for me. Are you like me? I once attended a talk by a prominent scientist from California, after which there was an informal question and answer session for students to “learn how to think” or some shit like that. One student asked the scientist, “What do you read?” Now, let me paint this picture for you. This scientist is a badass and he has figured out all sorts of innovative and insanely cool ways to answer his scientific questions. He publishes all the time in top scientific journals and he is well-respected. He also looks like a total punk—all black clothes, stringy long hair, shorts and black leather boots—which I appreciated. So, “what do you read?”
He replied, “I read two things. First, instrument manuals” [which are huge-ass, boring magazines of all the different scientific machines and equipment you can buy] “because they are our tools. You can’t know how to approach a problem unless you understand what tools are available to you. And secondly, I read science fiction—well, good science fiction—because it is creative and incredibly predictive of the future.” Okay I’ll be honest that’s not a direct quote but it’s really close.
Anyway, I was obsessed with science fiction before hearing this advice and I am all the more obsessed now. So that is what I am like. Interstellar is good science fiction. Christopher Nolan appointed a theoretical physicist from Caltech, Kip Thorne, to keep the science of Interstellar on point. Check this guy out: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~kip/. I invite you to navigate to “publications” on his page and scroll down. Your computer will probably die of too long. The point is that, while Interstellar is a movie that paces out the ledge of human knowledge and then just belly flops right on into the void, it is a well-instructed process up until the leap. And then, who knows, am I right? That is how science fiction should be.
And let’s be honest: I cried four times. This wasn’t a cold film saturated with science boredom; it had some major dramatic moments that tore at the ol’ heartstrings. Murphy, the daughter, just basically raged through my emotional fragility, breaking lamps and Russian dolls and shit. I could barely look at the screen during her scenes. You know how sometimes you tear up and other times a tear actually rolls down your cheek, and then, when shit gets really real, there’s as much snot coming out of your nose as there are tears streaming out of your eyes? That’s what this was like for me.
I also enjoyed the depiction of our future not only in a post planet meltdown scenario—towards which we are rapidly heading due to climate change—but also the themes of distrust in science, which are unfortunately more widespread in our current society than I’d like to think about. And, in comparison to Gravity—which depicted the female scientist as a total freakout who needed the calm and collected Clooney hero to save the day—Interstellar presented its two secondary protagonists as intelligent and competent female scientists. I was a big fan of that. Maybe one day there will be an intelligent and powerful, competent, and somewhat hubristic female who plays the primary protagonist in a major blockbuster. Keep working, Hollywood. If you make it, I’ll buy a ticket. I promise.
I have two major qualms with the movie (spoiler alert).
1) This is a bit obvious, but when we find out towards the end of the movie that the gravitational communications Murphy was receiving do not come from aliens but rather from her own father in the future, that nixes the pre-existing plotline framework that the wormhole next to Saturn was placed there by extraterrestrial beings to help us reach new worlds. So, how the hell did the original wormhole get next to Saturn if neither aliens nor her father could have put it there? It seems extraordinary that chance would place the wormhole in our system considering the incredible expanse of the universe.
2) Marine sciences, bitches. On the first planet they visit where they discover the wreckage of one of the original astronaut’s ships in knee deep water, they immediately find themselves in danger of massive (~1000ft) rolling waves. Ladies and gentlemen, this is impossible. That is not how waves work. The wavelength (the distance between the tops of two waves in succession) of these waves appeared to be on the order of miles. According to the physical properties of waves, the water depth for this rolling, non-breaking wave would have to be greater than half of the wavelength. In other words, if the distance between the two big rolling waves that they try to escape from was 1 mile, then the depth of water would have to be greater than 2,640ft, so this could definitely not be knee deep water. Fuck you, Christopher Nolan, you should have hired a marine scientist! Just kidding, I love your movies.
All in all, Interstellar was a fantastic movie. And regarding the predictive nature of science fiction, consider this for a moment: human beings are specialized to survive under certain planetary conditions and those conditions are changing rapidly. Not only is it feasible, it is likely that our species will have to make drastic changes to survive in our future environment. Meanwhile, NASA launched an unmanned Delta IV rocket into space yesterday. The success of this mission was crucial because NASA intends for this rocket to carry humans to an asteroid in the next 10 years and also to deliver humans to Mars by 2030.
Also, do y’all think there are aliens?