intInterstellar is filled with remarkable imagery, solid performances, a dramatic musical score, expert editing and it nails a sense of existential dread that other end-of-the-world films merely hint at.

What Interstellar doesn’t have is a huge amount of common sense logic. What I find most annoying is the number of characters who have nonsensical motivations for their plans.

Take from that what you will about a recommendation.

Now, as I dip into some analysis, prepare for intense spoilers. (And I wouldn’t bother reading this if you haven’t seen the film, because I’m not really going to explain the plot.)

Let’s talk about the Brands’ plans:

Plan A: Elder Brand wants to “solve gravity” to save the human race. (I assume this means learning how to bend gravity to human will to lift arbitrarily large bodies out of Earth’s gravity well.) That’s great, but how does that save humanity? Humanity is dying because agriculture is dying. If you transport existing agriculture into space, won’t the Blight come along for the ride? Aren’t you simply giving people a slightly more dramatic view out their windows as they die? And if you can, somehow, defeat the Blight in space, why can’t you replicate that on Earth? Build the equivalent of that Saturn-based space station underground, sequestered from Blight. In any case, how many of those habitats could you really have built in the (roughly) sixty years since Murph solved gravity? What tiny percent of humanity survived? How many billions died? Dark, huh?

Plan B: Younger Brand wants to start a colony of humans on a far flung planet with a few thousand frozen embryos. Okay, putting aside that one human has to raise ten kids and convince them to be surrogates (for several generations), what are they going to eat? You’re trading a planet with dying agriculture and evaporating atmosphere for another planet with no agriculture and, presumably, a breathable atmosphere. No mention was made of how plants would be made to thrive in such inhospitable conditions. And no mention was made of how a planet with enough oxygen for humans would fare after a few generations of terraforming. Assuming they brought along enough Blight-free seedlings to jump start an ecosystem, wouldn’t all those plants shoving oxygen into the atmosphere make the planet too oxygen-rich? Wouldn’t generation 4 or 5 of these surrogates start to choke on too much oxygen? Wouldn’t combustibility be a problem?

Let’s talk about “their” plan:

If “they” are aliens, they somehow learned that humanity was dying, found (or placed) some useable planets near a black hole big enough to be called Gargantua, built a wormhole from Gargantua to Saturn, then built a five-dimensional bridge to Murph’s bedroom and waited for Cooper to swoop down into the black hole, find the bridge and send the necessary quantum fluctuation data to Murph to solve gravity. This requires a remarkable amount of very specific information about Cooper and Murph. It also creates a closed-loop paradox. Why did Cooper know to send the coordinates to NASA? Because he received the coordinates to NASA. Paradox. Where did the idea actually come from?

If, on the other hand, Cooper is right and “they” are future humans that have transcended time and space, then we have a larger scale closed-loop paradox. Why did they build the Murph-bedroom-bridge? Because it had already been built. Why did they lead humanity to Edmond’s Planet? Because they had already led humanity to Edmond’s planet. Paradox.

“They” have two purposes: move humanity to Edmond’s Planet, and help them solve gravity.

As for their help getting humanity to the other galaxy, I’m not sure it makes a huge amount of sense to send a seedling colony of humans to a planet so close to Gargantua. Is that black hole not sending off human-killing doses of x-rays?

And let’s talk briefly about the other two planets we visited. The first had enormous waves, which I assume were caused by proximity to Gargantua, though I would argue gravity that enormous would likely have destroyed the planet rather than just making it a surfer’s paradise. Maybe there’s a sweet spot. I don’t know. But the other one, the ice planet, is more troubling. How exactly am I supposed to believe in frozen clouds so heavy they knock a spaceship off its trajectory. This whole movie is about gravity. How is gravity not functioning here? Or, if, as it is implied, Mann was lying about the “surface”, how is Cooper dumb enough to think he’s landing on a cloud in the first place.

As for solving gravity, why go to such ridiculous lengths to get the data to Murph? If you can place a fricking wormhole exactly where you want it, couldn’t you, I don’t know, send a bottle through the wormhole with a piece of paper that says, “Hey, Murph. Solve gravity with these numbers.” And, by the way, how complex is that data anyway? It’s simple enough that Cooper can convert it to Morse code and make his daughter’s watch tick with that pattern? And how does that work, anyway? Is he somehow programming the watch to send out this data in perpetuity? Why does the watch continue to pulse after it’s off the shelf?

While we’re talking about the Murph-bedroom-bridge scene, what is Cooper’s motivation? First, he helps Cooper Prime go see NASA with the dust coordinate trick (which doesn’t make sense, because those coordinates would be too detailed to lay out in just a few swipes of dust), but then he’s all “STAY! STAY!” If you wanted Cooper Prime to stay, maybe you shouldn’t have given him the NASA coordinates, doofus! All you managed to do was give your daughter false hope that you were going to stay.

And another thing. How did Murph ever come to the realization that her “ghost” was Cooper? There was exactly no way she could have come to that conclusion. The only reason she figured it out was because the audience knew it. And she was in no way privy to Cooper’s plan to try to get quantum gravity data out of the black hole. So the ticking of her watch was (even assuming you would see it as something other than mechanical failure) random data. To assume it’s gravity data is a stretch of gargantuan (pun intended) proportions.

The film tried to be deep, but it simply went off the rails of logic early on and never tried to get back on track.

A remarkable misfire for Christopher Nolan.

Michael Caine was in Interstellar¬†with Jessica Chastain. Jessica Chastain was in…


One thought on “Interstellar

  1. Good review Russell. It wasn’t terrible, but considering all that we’ve seen Nolan do in recent years, it seems like a bit of a disappointment. Albeit, a very impressive one to say the least.

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