I don’t think we’ll reach the stars via a wormhole placed conveniently near Saturn. Nor do I think the wormhole will necessarily terminate in a favorable location in another entire galaxy. In terms of Interstellar, I use the term “favorable” loosely, since all of the original planetary explorers who traveled through the wormhole ended up dying in short-order while landing on one of the 12 “favorable” planets.
Look at what I’m giving away! In Interstellar, the planet occupied by Matt Damon appears to have been particularly poor, though not immediately fatal. There are more than sufficient stars and planets in our own Milky Way for exploration.
I also don’t think we’ll have robots that look and act like the ultra-cool robots in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, though I wish we would and could. The picture depicts, I believe, the robot TARS going out to rescue Anne Hathaway on a water-covered planet with 1.3 earth gravity where they have the giant 500 foot waves (estimating). Fifty story waves. The Golden Gate bridge is approximately 22 storeys in height.
We had trouble figuring out how the actors could be wandering around in calf-deep water with no sense of water receding, considering that a ginormous 500 foot wave was thundering toward them. Also, the time difference between the waves was a bit odd, considering there was supposed to be no dry land on the giant water planet (giant/small???). Near a black hole and no sun, so totally …
I could make fun of Interstellar for being rough-hewn, confused science fiction (how could it do the wormhole, time dilation and 5 dimensions so well, a genuine filmmaking first, along with the “human element” – and the rest of the story so poorly?). I could rip apart one of my favorite films by the same director, Christopher Nolan, as well: Inception. But I like both films despite “elements one could rip apart.”
I suppose one of my favorite moments of the film was a truth that I doubt was endorsed by film consultant, famous physicist Kip Thorne. The young scientist Brand (Anne Hathaway), daughter of the older scientist Brand (Michael Caine), talks about love being able to transcend time. “We can’t understand it,” she says. “It’s not science. But love is the one thing we know that transcends time and space.” She gave some examples of how love has nothing to do with what we perceive as “survival.” This was during the part of the 3-hour movie (it’s LONG) in which Matt Damon isn’t there for no reason (as humorously pointed out by one reviewer who guessed plot elements based in practical factors – for example, a major movie star isn’t going to be one of the 12 Lazarus explorers if he isn’t going to survive, and isn’t going to have some sort of important plot twist, probably a bad one!). Matt Damon’s character has obviously never been in love and may God help whatever poor creature would be so foolish as to love him. Despite the other characters’ repeated commentary: he’s hardly “the best of us.” The sense that love transcends time and space is something everyone understands because everyone who has ever loved has experienced this feeling.
Interstellar is wonderful because it combines these human emotions with quite a bit of real science and a plausible, if not “ultra-realistic” way for people to leave the solar system and travel to the stars. I love the science (that works or tries, such as the depiction of five dimensions) in Interstellar. The parts of the film that are less-scientific, such as the motivation to leave Earth (the “blight” – never really explained, except there are mentions that it “breathes nitrogen” so it’s a living organism) and the anti-tech, retro-attitudes of the doomed earthbound – I didn’t care so much for.
A lot of space enthusiasts like the simple, Luddite presentation of the earthbound doom-and-gloom crowd, because they find the attitudes to be what they oppose and dislike. And those attitudes are certainly out there. Interstellar has been criticized bitterly via Huffington Post and similar publications because of its pro-interstellar exploration theme. “Having destroyed this one, people will go destroy more planets!” is one of the themes. These commenters are people who object to any funds being spent on space exploration, having little understanding of the relative amounts of money involved. They are likely the audience for 2% “cash back” credit cards. They don’t think Homer Simpson is dumb; they agree with him much of the time.
The “blight” destroying the Earth in the film seems at first to be like mysterious M. Night Shyamalan “blight.” What is it? It’s THE BLIGHT … it kills OKRA … it CHOKES people. It ruins baseball games by creating GIANT DUST STORMS. I took it to be “global warming” until the lecture about nitrogen, etc. The film attempts to make the point that “the Earth doesn’t want us any longer” (as opposed to “we destroyed the Earth!”). Pishtosh. The trees are attacking (if you’ve seen The Happening, you know what I’m talking about).
Interstellar is also a ground-breaking movie because it has two genuine stars: the oldschool space pilot Cooper played by Matthew McConaughey, and his daughter, poor “Murphy’s Law” Murph, played as an adult by Jessica Chastain. I had the feeling while watching that even at its 3 hour length, there was plenty of footage that didn’t end up in the final film. I suspect it was Jessica Chastain footage.
The man’s story is fine: we know this story. If just about any guy had the chance to save all of humanity, he’d make the same choice as Daddy Cooper. He’d be just about as agonized upon learning the bad things he later learned (“You Are Screwed – You Will Never Get Back”). He’d be just as committed as Daddy Cooper was at the end to go out and do Adam and Eve with Anne Hathaway on her lonely desert planet. Did I give away the end? Yes I did … if you can’t guess this one from at least the time Cooper and Brand are the only explorers left …
Jessica Chastain’s story is truncated, but we get the female rage and burning desire to know. Look at me! Listen to me! It’s crudely portrayed, but there’s a funhouse mirror version of what today’s young women are experiencing in the comparison between the forward-thinking, active, curious and creative Murph and her less-adventurous, farmer brother Tom (played by Casey Affleck – whom I guessed was Ben Affleck’s brother without seeing his name in the credits or knowing he was in the film in advance; such is sibling resemblance among people you don’t know from a hole-in-the-wall in real life, but you feel you “know” by seeing portrayed 20 feet high in front of your face over the years).
“Was her husband supposed to be gay?” Bruce asked when we were later discussing a scene that seemed inexplicably confrontational at the Cooper family farm toward the end of the film. Jessica Chastain and her husband (I think this was Topher Grace) leave the farm and Casey Affleck, angry brother Tom, returns steaming up in his truck after Jessica Chastain has for some unknown reason set all the corn on fire (conveniently extinguished by one guy with a shovel – it’s a movie conflagration). Topher Grace holds a tire iron up in an unconvincing fashion (he’s standing well behind her so if he swings it, he’s as likely to hit her as he is to hit his future brother-in-law), and he has other moments of looking bemused, confused, or otherwise not-in-charge and pussy-like. He’s supposed to be Jessica Chastain’s coworker at this point, but it’s obvious the two will marry and have children.
So, Murph does her job and saves humanity with the help of her father. Some may quibble at the tortured back-and-forth connection of the beginning and the end of the film. They might quibble at the extreme time dilation plot … but it will be the first time that time dilation will have been portrayed coherently as part of a genuine film plot, including its effect on people’s emotions and lives. The film does telegraph a lot … for example, Matthew McConaughey’s character Cooper wakes in a hospital bed near the end of the film on “Cooper’s Station,” a large space colony with artificial gravity, he assumes it’s named after him, and is made fun-of … it’s named after his daughter who saved humanity by uniting quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of relativity. Either that or discovering quantum gravity. Some such.
And that, to me, is really what Interstellar achieved. It imagined a female as something beyond what Anne Hathaway’s character was in the film (a scientist, following in her father’s footsteps … but in reality, hopelessly in love with a dead man). It proposed that a father and daughter’s relationship could be something mythically akin to Icarus and Daedalus, only Daedalus, this time, wouldn’t die.
Over the many-eon future, these stories will be played out, large and small, and I do believe, interstellar (if not intergalactic – and if there are such wormholes out there able to be traversed … BFD anyway; wherever they terminate). Of course there are such people who think that spending any money or time to leave this planet at all are “evil.” There are people who think rewriting history as suggested in the beginning of the film (“The moon landing was faked to bring down the former Soviet Union”) is a fine idea.
The more insidious “Luddism” I think, is the one that can’t see what Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan, as well as the actors in Interstellar have done with the characters. People don’t go see spectacles like Interstellar for the acting, but it’s an amazing film for portraying such a huge story with such subtle, nuanced acting and human-level storytelling. People might think that Jessica Chastain’s character is one-note (how could she remain so angry with her father for so many years?) – well, what world was she born into? Her anger isn’t just her father, it’s everything. And, it’s multilayered anger, as the film suggests that the soon-to-occur (unrealistic, sure) “blight” set everyone back in so many ways. And single-handedly, almost – she changed that.
Yes, I like Interstellar. It’s a film for the future and Christopher Nolan, the storyteller with the eye and heart for the future as well.