Movie Review: Interstellar

by Steve Lancaster3/26/17
Suppose that G-d, or if you prefer nature/universe, has decided that mankind had spent more time on this planet than necessary and it was time for us to depart. Would we get a 15 day pay or quit notice nailed, where, to the doors of the Vatican? Or something subtler, like a blight that slowly destroys every food crop?

After a world war that kills billions, the survivors find themselves with a stark choice. Stay on earth and slowly die, or find a way to leave earth for a newer and hopefully better planet. Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, is not space opera like Star Wars, nor is it utopian like Star Trek. It is science fiction with a plausible story, characters that have motives, ideals and strive for goals, make mistakes and show their faults.

Interstellar, is directed by Christopher Nolan who also wrote much of the script. Unlike the Batman trilogy this movie is not as dark and brooding even if the plot centers on the life or death of humanity. Once again, we have a movie in which NASA plays a role, but unlike The Martian, it is not a two-hour commercial but simply a plot fixture.

Cooper, (McConaughey) is a pilot who worked for NASA before the war and now is a farmer. Living with his father-in-law and two children, growing the only crop not killed by blight, corn. His daughter Murphy, played with capability by Mackenzie Foy, believes her room is haunted. Books keep jumping off the shelves. She thinks someone, or something is attempting to communicate with her. After a dust storm a message is laid out in binary on the floor of her room and Cooper decodes it as earth coordinates, drives there with Murphy and finds NASA alive, well and planning nothing less than the survival of humanity.

Professor Brand, (Michael Caine) is the director of NASA and is searching for the solution to use gravity as propulsion to lift off earth a life raft of humanity.  He needs Cooper to pilot a spacecraft to Saturn and through a wormhole into another galaxy, find a habitable planet and get back to earth by the time Brand has solved gravity. That is plan A, plan B assumes Brand never solves the math and Cooper’s spacecraft is equipped with enough frozen embryos to begin populating another planet.

Anne Hathaway plays Professor Brand’s daughter. She is in love with one of the explorers who went through the wormhole earlier. Love is one of the themes running through the movie. Cooper’s love for his family, Professor’s Brand’s love of humanity, Murphy’s love of her father all play a role in the subtext of the movie.

The movie deals with, black holes, gravity as a force, the impact of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and time travel. Enough science for anyone not gifted with a physics education. But more than that it is a movie about people who are challenged by extraordinary events, and overcoming those challenges.

Interstellar, has in supporting roles, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, and Matt Damon. While watching you will get some links to Kubrick’s 2001, A space Odyssey, and two of the stars are not human, Tars, and Case are robots, originally programed for war but repurposed to space travel. A lot is left out of this review, but the intent is to persuade you to watch an excellent science fiction movie not to give up the entire plot. • (771 views)

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7 Responses to Movie Review: Interstellar

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I chose that particular thumbnail picture because that describes the look on my face as I tried to make my way through this awful movie. I couldn’t stay with it after about 30 minutes. Painful. But to each his own. Thanks for the review, Steve. I doubt I’ll try to find this again and finish it. But glad you found something in it.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      Too much expectation of reality can ruin any movie. Watch it with willful suspension of disbelief. The only real fault I could find with this movie is the pace.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Tom, I’m constrained in talking any more about this movie because my last resort is to question people’s tastes. But if you people like it, then you paid your money and you had a good time. I, on the other hand, find it interesting that there could be any affinity for this movie. I’m not sure what itch it scratches.

        Here’s a review at IMDB that, despite the spelling errors, gets to the heart of my objections to this movie:

        I created this profile just to warn other innocent viewers to steer clear of this monumentally boring, confused and improbable story.


        This is THE suspension of disbelief movie, if you like the concept, you’ve found your turkey. The movie begins with an unbelievable future America that is turning into a dust-bowl. The US has no more armed forces, we are told (This is like asking us to believe America will one day move to Mongolia) and the only crop left is corn, acres and acres of it. Perhaps this explains why the whole movie is so corny.

        The hero lives with his daughter and son and father in a farm, which is “haunted” (books fall off shelves). One day, they are driving their pickup when they get a flat tire, and immediately upon this an Indian??air force drone flies by and they chase it to retrieve its solar cells – flat tire notwithstanding – through miles and miles of corn. This event has NOTHING to do with the rest of the story and is never mentioned again.

        Then they go to his children’s school, where he’s told his son is not smart enough to become an engineer, just a farmer, but his daughter is very smart. Uh.

        When they get home, the “ghost” has attracted the crop machinery back to his house (and drops a few books too). But wait, he soon realizes (just how is not very clear) that it is not a ghost but a GRAVITATIONAL wave transmitting coordinates in Morse code???

        He drives with daughter at night to the coordinates and TA-DA! They have found what’s left of NASA! Scientists have secretly known that soon even corn will die and are preparing A) A giant space station where ALL of mankind can go (all 7 billion of us…sure) or B)A space incubator that will restart human population on another world. Of course, as we all know, this is far simpler than protecting crops or altering them genetically.

        Oh yes, and they want our hero to fly the spaceship to other potentially habitable worlds. Did I mention that some mysterious unbelievably advanced aliens who want to help us have conveniently created a huge plot hole, I mean, worm hole, near Saturn, and that this wormhole can be navigated through to another galaxy? (Don’t ask me which). Of course, as we all know, placing wormholes around Saturn is far simpler than protecting Earth’s crops.

        And so off they go, not before some of the corniest scenes of “Daddy don’t leave me”, literally smack in the middle of corn, but the plot (or whatever this is) must go on.

        They hibernate through 2 years of space travel to Saturn (at this point I was seriously considering hibernating myself) and when they get there, they dive into the friendly plot hole, I mean, wormhole, at the other end of which they must choose between 3 planets (they had already sent 3 explorers ahead, one to each planet).

        The first one is covered in waist-deep water, with HUGE swells the size of mountains, that never break, in defiance of the laws of physics. The explorer they sent ahead is dead (from boredom I guess). Oh yes, and because it’s close to the plot-hole time passes very fast on it, one hour is like 7 years back on Earth. A truly enticing candidate to colonize.

        The second planet is icy, and they awaken the 2nd explorer, who has lied to them, sent false data, they find out the planet is uninhabitable, but he wanted someone to come rescue him, and then tries to kill everyone in order to save the mission. Wait, you did not understand his logic? Neither did I.

        Of course, probes and remote sensors are not part of this movie’s universe, you have to personally LAND on a planet to see that it’s deep frozen in ammonia or has moving mountains of water every 5 minutes.

        Then they get back to the station – oh yes, by this time 2 or 3 astronauts have died – I do not remember for sure, as they were as expendable as fuel and as captivating as corn.

        In the end, he sends the girl astronaut to the last planet – which might mean her death, but hey he wants to be chivalrous – and dives into the plot hole – I mean, black hole – to see what’s inside it. Finally….TA- DA! We see what’s inside the black hole: A library! His house’s library room, where he can see his daughter, and he tries to contact her to tell her that gravity can bend time, and with this solve the Earth’s problems!

        But since she cannot hear him (the scenes are ridiculous, he floats behind the bookshelves, I half expected him to put his head among the books and shout “Peek-a-boo” to her at any moment) he has to send her the information through…Morse code!

        Get it? HE was the ghost all along, through the power of corn, I mean, the power of love! She figures it out, because her old watch’s hand is trembling (A sensible and very logical conclusion) and cries EUREKA! and saves the day!

        Well, after this rigmarole noodly black hole, I mean, plot hole, in the end he is saved, he is now in the future, meets his dying old daughter, and she tells him to go back to meet the girl astronaut in the 3rd planet she is.

        And all this circumvented, confusing, over-corny plot-hole-ridden monstrous nonsense is told in such a slurred, corny, slow agonizing rhythm at least THIS part works, you actually believe the black hole can really slow down time – because the film lasts 3 hours, but feels more like 20.

        Good points? The movie ends. It takes forever, but it ends.

        • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

          Brad, I get it. But, remember, it’s a movie! It doesn’t have to answer the questions of the ages, but just briefly entertain me. Similarly, the newer movie Passengers entertains me, especially with the accidental zero-g swimming pool. Let’s not ask too much of a movie, eh?

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    There are some other books/movies that might be mentioned as related thematically. The blight on food crops could have been inspired by John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass, in which a blight wipes out all the members of the grass family — including all the grain crops. The effort to save a “life raft” of humanity is reminiscent of the book and movie When Worlds Collide. (A friend of mine who was a dedicated Philip Wylie fan once stayed up late to see the movie — and cried when it was over because the time turned out to be wasted.) The “life or death” choice reminds of the book and movie The 27th Day, in which a key point is someone realizing that they’d been offered the choice of “life and death”, not “life or death”.

  3. Lucia says:

    I liked this one, mostly because it was so far out that I had to suspend my natural sense of reason just to follow it. Take it as a fantasy film and it will make sense.

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