Film review: Interstellar

I was planning to only review Empire’s 25 worst films, but I saw this last night and it fitted in so well I decided to toss it in. Christopher Nolan has made some very good films, for example Inception (though those people arguing it should have won the Best Film Oscar when Toy Story 3 was so obviously superior need to stop sniffing the popcorn fumes). He’s also made some very bad ones, including the Dark Knight Rises (when you supposedly have sixty seconds to save Gotham several minutes of goodbyes aren’t tearjerking, they’re stupid) and worked on the story (was there a story?) for Man of Steel. And now we have Interstellar.
(In case it wasn’t obvious from every other review I’ve done this contains spoilers so massive they could create a black hole, so if you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading.)
Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a hick farmer/brilliant engineer who is trying to survive as ‘blight’ destroys the world’s crops, one by one. Ignoring the fact that a monoculture is precisely the worst thing to do in this situation, and that given the multitude of plants humans can eat the idea that a single disease could kill all of them except one is laughably stupid, he and his neighbours continue to soldier on, growing the same thing (it’s America, so it’s corn) year after year. Instead of working out why they suck at agriculture they decide to go into space.
This film should have come with a warning: may not be suitable for scientists. Starting with a plot point that depends on not understanding biology, they then go on to not understand physics. At one point Michael Caine claimed he needed to unite quantum theory and gravity in order to work out how to make a humongous space station take off from earth, and my friend and I (both physicists) collapsed laughing. It’s like saying discovering the Higgs boson would give you the ability to magic a cheeseburger out of thin air. It’s wrong, and if you wanted a cheeseburger, we already know how to do that. Why not say they needed to invent a gravity reverser and have done with it? According to Wikipedia critics praised the film’s scientific accuracy, which just makes me unbearably sad. To those reviewers: there is beauty and glory and terror in science, and it’s wonderful and amazing and should be a part of everyone’s lives, and this film gets everything significant about it wrong.

Anyway, Cooper is recruited by NASA to fly through a wormhole to another planet, along with a black guy, a woman, and a spare guy. The woman, played by Anne Hathaway, only exists to gasp as Cooper flies the spaceship, and do stupid things that endanger the mission. To be fair, the spare guy also does stupid things, getting killed on the first planet they land on. The black guy is killed by Evil Matt Damon (plot twist! He’s evil). Then Cooper and the woman pontificate about love, and the film descends into ever longer conglomerations of scientific phrases that make no sense. If Star Trek writers spent this long describing a dilithium crystal, they’d be fired. If someone tries to persuade you to see this movie, set your engines to warp factor nine, and engage.

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2 Responses to Film review: Interstellar

  1. Tremaine says:

    I’ve finally seen it! Ok, its a little long, well, at 2 hour 50mins its very long. I have to admit I didn’t think it sucked, not a ringing endorsement but it was watchable imo. The robots were of course the coolest thing about the film, absolutely loved them! I also liked how they did the time dilation, however, for an almost 3 hour film that doesn’t say much about it.

    Evil Matt Damon gave me flashbacks to Team America’s Matt Damon, with an hour+ left on the clock when they picked his planet, their just had to be something wrong, this was telegraphed so obviously. I felt sorry for Romilly, I actually looked his name up as I couldn’t remember it, so I’m going to credit the actor too, David Gyasi. For the paucity of his part I think he actually did a decent job, but the script for him and Anne Hathaway was truly awful. Both actors felt like they were there to tick boxes to fulfill HR criteria for the film. He got left waiting for 24 years in the spaceship, and then got blown up for no obvious reason. Anne Hathaway’s character on the other hand, played damsel in distress whenever she could and wanted to go to a planet against the best scientific evidence because she was in love (though she did actually get to save Matthew McConaughey once), Wow powerful role models guys!.

    The science gobbledegook didn’t bother me so much, its a film about flying through a wormhole and entering another galaxy, it was always going to be dodge as hell. The end part reminded me of 2001 at the end, just done a little clumsily and was rather silly. Is it wrong to think he should be dead? How convenient that he was discovered just besides Jupiter. Matthew McConaughey must shine like a star for them to find him in the vastness of space!

    For such a star studded film with an excellent director, its upsetting how much this film was a let down. At least the robots were cool?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sjrosenstein says:

    You’re absolutely right, I didn’t even think about how they found him at the end! I could make a guess as to where the McConaughey sun shines out from, but probably I should restrain myself.

    I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I wasn’t a physicist, there was a bit early on where they said the first ship had been transmitting so the planet must be safe, and then it turned out the ship had crashed and the explanation was ‘relativity’. But relativistic effects would just have massively redshifted the signal, not reproduced it, and then my brain was stuck on that for about twenty minutes. Like if everyone on earth was suddenly meant to have a deadly allergy to corn, and the explanation was our IgY had mutated. Weird thing is, they had a very famous physicist consulting on the film, but some of the stuff they got wrong is taught in first year courses, so it gave this odd mix of using words for things that they just had no connection to.

    To be fair, offending ranting obsessive physicists in their audience probably didn’t decrease the earning power of the film at all. And you’re right, the robots were really cool. Maybe you’ll get one at the Crick 🙂


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