Evil Movie Review: Interstellar
Yup, Lilith is back after a mere two hours here to bring you my review of the recently talked about movie Interstellar. I have been being bombarded by reviews from various other websites I follow on social media, ranging from the science sites like I Fucking Love Science to the more nerdy sites like Den of Geek. I had even read about it a couple months ago on a website reviewing movies that will probably be potential Oscars nominees, so I was ready for this movie for a while. I also read that it was an important movie for director (and writer and producer) Christopher Nolan as it seemed to complete a trilogy of personal films for him including The Prestige, Inception, and now Interstellar. So without further ado I bring you my spoiler-laden review of the movie.
As I start my review I should say that I attended this movie with my partner in crime The Veganaut. He and I are definitely a pair that see eye to eye on many things, but it was interesting to me that he was the one that convinced me to see this movie in the theater despite his deep hatred of Matthew McConaughey. Regardless, we were both curious to see what all the hype was about.
The movie starts off following Cooper (played by McConaughey) as he struggles to manage his children in a world not far from our own. It is a planet meant to be Earth, only probably several decades in the future when climate change has resulted in an ever failing crop yield, constant dust storms, starvation, and strife for the human race. Cooper is a simple farmer, or so it seems, until his children and him embark across a corn field in their truck using high-tech computer software to capture a wandering government drone to use for their own purposes. The first half hour of the film as we learn more about this new future Earth are intriguing to say the least: the mix and mash of simple concepts like crop growing and farming mixed with high tech gadgets and computer software seems quite realistic and believable.
But we soon learn that Cooper is not just a simple farmer. He seems obsessed with science and helping his children become college educated despite the world’s need for more farmers and hard laborers. And his daughter Murphy and he are able to crack a Morse-Code message left in the dust in her bedroom to uncover a secret NASA facility trying to save the human race. Now, Murphy is obsessed with this “ghost” that she thinks lives in her bedroom and sends her messages. Her father points out to her that this ghost’s messages are using gravity, which I took to interpret as “something is manipulating the gravitational fields of our planet so that individual areas in the room have stronger gravity than others.” Makes sense, right? NO! That was probably the first part of the movie I found a little unbelievable. This brilliant and retired scientist discovers that his daughter’s bedroom has gravitational anomalies and he just accepts that as ok?! I feel like I would have done a little more investigating in to that if I was Cooper.
Instead he and his daughter find the NASA facility and in an instant he is convinced to pilot a rocket through a newly discovered wormhole off to the side of Saturn in the hopes of finding distant planets in another galaxy habitable for the dying human species. Again, sure, why not? Hopefully my vigorous typing is conveying the sarcasm that I mean it to. But that being said, those quick decisions lead to the beauty in the film. Not the metaphorical beauty or some other crap, no the actual cinematography beauty. This colossus rocket leaving the Earth, then traveling to an orbiting station that has back up ships, pods, and fuel for them, and then traveling to the wormhole in hyper sleep.
Of course that leads me to ask about hyper sleep. We have a lot of ideas about how space travel will become more and more doable in the future, but we are not any closer to hyper sleep, cryo, etc. Maybe the doctor in me is bristling at the seams at the concept of that. But that discussion will have to wait for another review, since it was not an important part of this movie I will not make it an important part of my review.
Once our crew arrives at the wormhole they wake up and travel through it. This scene is stunning. I am not sure how much of it is scientifically plausible since wormholes are hypothetical and created, but this scene was absolutely beautiful. I will give Nolan and huge thumbs up for his imagination of what this would look like. For those of you that aren’t science fiction nerds, a wormhole is like a tunnel connecting two very far apart parts of the universe. Nolan’s characters in the film explained that this tunnel in 3D would actually look like a sphere to the naked eye, and this stunning sphere filled with stars and another galaxy is just pleasing at the eyes to look at, especially if you have your head in the stars most of the day. The ride is a bit bumpy but they make it through.
On the other side the crew is met with a dilemma: three of the planets in this galaxy are supposed to have surviving explorers that are sending up beacons to their ship saying that it has the capacity for hosting human life.
The closest planet is also that closest to the black hole that is at the center of this solar system (another very pleasing image to look at even if we don’t know that it would truly look like this or not). But that planet also has the highest gravitational pull and time dilation, meaning that one hour on the planet’s surface is equal to seven years back home. Part of the crew including Cooper head down in a ship to the surface. They are able to land on the surface of a large ocean because of the gravity (but wait, wouldn’t that mean that they would sink deeper? Ugh, suspension of disbelief initiating…) Sadly they find their scientists’ ship in ruins, but figure out that because of the time dilation she just landed hours before. What killed her and ruined her ship? The massive waves created by this planet’s tide. These were very beautiful and in my mind plausible. I mean, if you were to travel to places like Prince Edward’s Island you could see some of the largest shifts in tide in the world, and some areas the water rushes out at low tide, like it is getting sucked in to the ocean through a drain. So why wouldn’t it be possible for the tides on this slightly different planet with stronger gravity to be much more dramatic than ours?
But the most blatantly absurd thing in the movie (to me at least) happens next: the crew rush back to their ship (losing one of their men in the process as he gets sucked away in to the ocean) and the ship just up and lifts off, leaving the planet to travel back to their station so they can explore another planet. Wait a second…how many different rocket parts were needed to leave the earth’s atmosphere in the first scene of them leaving our planet (I think it was 2 large parts of rocket detached after they got through our atmosphere), yet now they can fly around in this tiny little ship similar to that used in The Avengers by the Black Widow and leave various planets’ surfaces back through the atmosphere without issue? Yeah, again, turn on that suspension of disbelief.
Next we travel to a planet with Dr. Mann, the scientist originally responsible for the mission exploring this other galaxy in the first place. Who is Dr. Mann? Why Matt Damon of course. And right from the start you can tell there is something fishy about this character. He seems shady and like he is hiding something. Which of course turns out to be the case. What was he hiding? He sent a beacon up saying his planet could host human life, but it is an ice planet that actually cannot harbor humans. He sent the beacon up anyways in an effort to save his own life even though he knew it would waste precious resources from the ship that saves him. He gets what he deserves, but now we enter the really implausible part of the film.
At this point several decades have passed down on Earth where it has only been a couple weeks for our crew. And the crew has experienced some serious thinning: it’s down to Cooper and Dr. Brandt, who is a scientist and responsible for bringing over a hundred thousand human embryos with them on this trip for a “Plan B” to recolonize a human race elsewhere if those left back on Earth are not able to join them. (Wait, where are they going to grow without wombs? Test tube babies? Ugh, shaking head, why did I ask?).
These two decide that they can slingshot around the black hole in order to get to the next and last possible habitable planet. But they need to drop off some of their wright in the process. Cooper reveals in the last minute that he never intended to just drop off parts of the ship, but also the part containing him so that Brandt and the human species might have a chance to survive. And so begins Cooper’s journey in to a black hole. This scene also starts out rather beautifully, giving you the feeling that you too are falling down an endless tunnel. It is fun to imagine what one might see in a black hole, so my curiosity was incredibly peaked at this point. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.
Much like what felt like an LSD fueled ending to 2001: A Space Odyssey Cooper finds himself in an endless M.C. Escher repetition of his daughter’s bedroom. And in those few moments of seeing his daughter from behind the back of his bookcase he realizes that he was her ghost all along, giving her messages in Morse Code throughout different parts of her life. He is able to transcribe an entire data entry from his robot’s memory on to his daughter’s watch using Morse Code so that her future self can figure out how to prevent time and gravity from limiting their space travel abilities. Ok, I am officially lost her. This part was just too over the top for me, and I am a Doctor Who fanatic! I guess what bothered me about this scene as well was the deep feeling of religion, like there is some higher purpose or greater being at work connecting people through a fantastical world that is beyond belief.
What happens next? Cooper’s purpose in the black hole is complete, his daughter got the message, so the black hole randomly spits him out in to space in front of a space ship that can save him off to the side of Saturn. How convenient. I chose to just ignore all the over the top parts of the movie that just happened and tried to enjoy the movie’s conclusion: Cooper is reunited with his daughter as she lies on her deathbed surrounded by dozens of loving family members and she gives him permission to continue being the explorer that he is at heart so that he can join Anne Hathaway’s character on that distant planet that is starting to rebuild the human race. How sweet.
So I apologize for my sarcasm and frustration in the last couple paragraphs, despite those comments I am glad that I watched the movie. The cinematography was stunning, the music score was enjoyable, and the overall feeling of the movie was of one of exploration, the unknown, and something exciting. I did like the movie as a whole, just had to activate my “suspension of disbelief” button several times. I also forgot to mention one of my favorite sets of characters in the whole movie too: the robots! NASA had designed these versatile rectangular robots that are capable of a lot of physical things on other planets’ surfaces as well as storing lots of data and having quite an amusing conversational ability. They were programmed for various amounts of honesty and humor, which led to the comic relief of the film. It made me smile thinking about other emotional robots and computers, like those in The Hitchhiker’s Universe. I was glad that the robots were just as important, if not more important to the success of the humans in the story, and their constant banter made me smile.
Ok, hope you’ve had your fill of Lilith for the day, until next time nerds!
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Posted on November 18, 2014, in Evil Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews and tagged Anne Hathaway, christopher nolan, Evil Movie Reviews, interstellar, Matthew McConaughey, Sci-Fi, soft science. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.