Way-Too-Late Movie Reviews: Interstellar
Posted by Alan Edwards
I watch a lot of movies, but usually well after they’ve been released. That doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about them, because I am an asshole (that’s what that old saying means, right?). Based on those two facts, I am introducing a semi-regular feature called Way-Too-Late Movie Reviews, since the review comes well after everyone else in the world has already seen it. The first movie is one I just saw over Easter weekend: Interstellar. Maybe soon I’ll do Avatar or Titanic next!
Oh, and by the way, there are spoilers here, because no shit there are spoilers in a movie review that’s been out for months.
Anyways, Interstellar is a movie about the world dying and humanity needing to find a new place to live so they shoot Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and 2 randos who you know are going to die the second you see them (because a) it’s a space movie, b) they aren’t played by anyone really famous, and c) neither of them is extraordinarily good-looking enough to be a romantic interest for a lead) into space to look for a new planet despite the impossibility of the task due to a conveniently placed wormhole next to Saturn. Also, there are robots that act more human than any actual actor in the movie, except maybe Matt Damon.
McConaughey plays a former astronaut named Cooper who is now a farmer because there is apparently a world-wide shortage of food because of something called the Blight which is a fungus or something that causes crops – and I assume all plants, I guess – to die, and also creates more nitrogen in the atmosphere (?) which means that the last people will suffocate before they starve to death. I would have figured that all the plants dying would mean that there was not enough oxygen and too much carbon dioxide and everyone would suffocate instead of the nitrogen being the problem but really it doesn’t matter what the Blight does other than serve as the X Factor Forcing Humanity to Leave. It also has a nebulous time frame for killing people which helps because no one knows how long it’s going to take to perform the plot functions so there’s a sense of urgency but you can rest easy knowing that the resolution will come in time to solve all the problems because Plot.
So anyway Cooper is a farmer with two kids, a daughter named Murph who is 10 and a son named Doesn’t Matter who is older. His wife is dead but her father, John Lithgow, is there to make it easy for Cooper to abandon his family literally the same day someone gives him anything to do that isn’t farming. For some reason the first thing we do is see him drive his kids to a parent-teacher conference because even though the world is dying there is school, where most of the kids are forced to go into farming, which means it would make a fuckton more sense to just let them, I dunno, farm instead of going to school but whatever. This scene is important to show for the following Reasons:
Reason 1: Murph likes science.
Reason 2: The textbooks are fucked up because they are no longer run by the Federal Govmint but there are also taxes which then makes you wonder if there is still currency and if so who are all the people that are doing banking and teaching and other jobs that make money to buy the corn that the farmers are growing and why aren’t armed warlords just taking the food and forcing people to serve them to eat and how would a dying world sustain an economy that isn’t based on 1 ear of corn = twelve trillion dollars and you know what it’s better if we just wave our hands and accept everything we see at face value.
Reason 3: It gives us a reason to have everyone in the car for the next scene, which does exactly nothing to make the plot go along but is long and in the movie anyway, which lets you know what you’re in for because this movie is wayyyyy longer than it needs to be.
So after the parent-teacher conference a drone flies overhead as Coop and the kids are driving back and he gets all excited and just fucking turns into the cornfield and follows this drone, destroying all kinds of crops in the process. I found myself wondering how many additional families would starve as he chased this drone, but the movie doesn’t care so I guess you shouldn’t either (see Reason 2 up above). Anyway, he switches seats with the Who Cares son and grabs a laptop and tries to take control of the drone which almost kills them because the son almost drives over a cliff because Coop told him to keep after that drone and apparently not doing what Dad says will result in a fate worse than killing all three of them by driving off a cliff because the son won’t stop the truck until he is explicitly told to and man that had to be a great way to grow up. Luckily Coop gets control of the drone anyway and flies it around and lets his daughter drive it a little bit but doesn’t let the son do it because Coop really honestly gives zero fucks about his son. Coop is going to use this drone to do something that has zero bearing on the plot, so we watch this scene and others for no reason and an editor should have cut this bullshit right the fuck out because this movie is easily an hour longer than it needs to be.
Oh, and Murph keeps talking about a ghost in her room which no one believes in but Coop tells her to think like a scientist and figure it out. The ghost pushes books off the shelf which Murph dutifully records and believes it’s code but anyway we’ll get to that. There is also a scene in here somewhere where all the autonomous farming equipment Coop has designed get their GPS functions messed up and drive back to his house but not into it, they just park outside nicely spaced from one another and Coop can’t figure out why so he reboots them and they go off their merry way. This scene is like watching him get a random phone call from his neighbor and troubleshooting an inkjet printer driver problem. This is a Reason 3 scene in that it does nothing to help the plot along (you could argue that it demonstrates there is an anomaly centered around Coop’s house but there is already the ghost to do that).
So they go to a baseball game and a big-ass duststorm is in the distance and the players on the diamond notice (it’s the Yankees, now reduced to playing in little ballparks and wait a minute, the world is literally ending and there are people playing baseball for a living (?) who travel around and where does anyone get the gas they’re using if there’s no federal government and how does it get paid and REASON 2 REASON 2 whew that’s better) that it’s coming before the air-raid siren warning everyone that it’s coming can go off, which means that no one keeps a really good eye out for these giant duststorms that cause all kinds of problems but – OK fuck it, this is a Reason 3 scene whose only purpose is to make sure the house is empty. So they go back to the house and Murph left her window open and when it gets shut the dust is lying in a specific pattern on the ground and Coop figures out it’s because Gravity (capitalized because Gravity is an important thing that later people will try to Solve, but you might as well replace Gravity with God because the Deus Ex is the important part of the movie’s Machina).
Eventually Coop figures out the lines of dust are a message written in binary and the message is coordinates (not a phone number, serial number, or any kind of number – it’s obviously coordinates for whatever reason) and he’s going to drive and find the spot all by himself and leave his family behind for the sheer fuck of it. Murph wants to go but Coop won’t let her so he drives next to a kid-sized shape of blankets for a while before lifting it up and finding his daughter. They share a good laugh and keep on so whatever. They drive through the night and come to a fence in the middle of nowhere and Coop is going to climb it when a spotlight hits him and he’s begging for his life and something happens to him and his daughter is screaming.
So anyway he wakes up inside a building and Mystery Mystery Mystery who cares get to the point it’s NASA. Which was shut down a while ago but is still going underground and everyone looks well-fed and who is paying these people and what do they eat if all they have is corn and there isn’t a federal government but wait is there? because NASA is still around and REASON 2 REASON 2
OK so eventually everyone gets to the point: NASA, led by Batman’s butler Alfred, is trying to find a way to get people off of Earth to colonize a new planet because a world-destroying cancer like Humanity will do fucking anything to spread. He tells Coop that there is a wormhole next to Saturn and they sent one-man teams through it to different systems looking for habitable planets. Anyway, the point is, there are three possible destinations that look promising based on beacon transmissions that contain no information but LOOKS GOOD HERE and apparently people can send video messages from Earth to the other side of the wormhole but no one on that side can send them back other than one that says YES for Reason 2 reasons. Oh, and there are apparently multiple spaceships because one is ready to go now and it’s job is to pick the place where humanity will go using either Plan A (send the people on Earth to a new planet which is so ridiculously untenable – I mean, at best, it’s a few people in the US that will get to go, not everyone, but whatever everyone acts like it’ll be easy) or Plan B (send a few people and some eggs and sperm to help the cancer spread keep the human race alive).
So Alfred wants Coop to pilot the ship because he also happens to be the Best Pilot on Earth and they were getting ready to send the ship out with no real pilot but hey great timing and so they drive back to the farm so Coop can drop off the kid he cares about and go the fuck to space. Murph flips out because she’s emotional and a girl and oh yeah her dad is fucking abandoning them to go blast off in deep space based on some crackpots living underground and she isn’t mollified by the watch he gives her saying that he also has a watch and when he gets back they can compare them and maybe they’ll even be the same age when he gets back isn’t that cool! Oddly this message is not well-received by the daughter and Coop just walks the fuck out, shakes his son’s hand (“I have no idea what your name is, but you’ll make a hell of a farmer, I guess”), exchanges words with John Lithgow (“Why are you even in this movie in this shitty pointless role? Anyway, have fun taking care of my kids because I’m assuming you will”), and drives off.
The movie skips ahead to them taking off – we see him chase a drone for no reason, but introducing the astronauts with him is pointless – and then they dock with the ship that they connect to and will drive that has other mini ships on it. It’s basically 2001: A Space Odyssey porn for a bit. It’s pretty but really not THAT pretty.
OK, to move things along: it takes two years, but they fly into the wormhole. Visual effects happen. They come through the other side. With Coop is Brand, Alfred’s daughter, and two other people to demonstrate how dangerous space is. There are also two robots that are cool and funny and better than everyone else performing in this movie. So they go to the first planet which is super close to the black hole that makes the wormhole possible, so time dilation will happen due to relativity making each hour spent on the surface equal to seven years on Earth. Coop hates this so decides to do everything in a hurry, endangering everyone by coming in like a bat out of hell and landing by the YES beacon on a planet that seems to consist of nothing but a foot of water on a solid surface. Oh, and they left behind one of the other astronauts when they went down because he had a couple of years of work to do. Anyway Brand and Redshirt go outside, find the beacon among wreckage, notice a mountain range in the distance, fart around a bit, realize for no particular reason that it’s a wave, try to hurry back, robot and Brand gets inside but Redshirt just stands there like a moron until the wave hits. They tumble around for a while and when the wave passes they have to wait for the engines to not be full of water to take off and they fight and yell about how this is all Brand’s fault that someone died and ten minutes pass and it’s a harrowing takeoff from the planet but not that harrowing because you know the movie won’t end here and there isn’t anyone left to kill so they leave and go back to the ship and 23 years have passed.
OK, I just have to interject here: Coop fucks everything up driving like an idiot. If they’d taken it slower, maybe checked around a bit, they would have noticed the fucking 15,000 foot waves before landing. If the beacon was next to an exploding volcano he would have driven right into it. Then he blames Brand for killing Redshirt. What a dick. Anyway.
The dude they left behind seems to be pretty OK for being alone for 23 years. He did research or whatever – it doesn’t matter what he did because Reason 3 (no impact on plot). Coop checks his messages and sees his son send one about getting married and another one about having a kid and another about how the kid is dead and thanks a fucking lot Dad this life sucks and I have a beard now. Oh, and his daughter sends one on the same day that they would have been the same age and is all basically like Fuck You Dad too. Oh, and she’s a brilliant scientist now.
Then the movie starts switching back from space to Earth and Alfred and Murph are talking about Solving Gravity because that will do something apparently for Reason 2 reasons and blah blah blah their scenes are pretty much pointless until later. We’ll summarize all the Earth shit by saying that Plan A was bullshit from the beginning and Murph finds the watch that her Dad gave her and the second hand is acting crazy which she pretty much ignores until an insufferable amount of time later. The Earth scenes are TERRIBLE.
So in space they have to choose between the two remaining planets. Both say YES and are supposedly promising, but one looks better than the other according to Coop who knows not a fucking thing about these things. The other has Brand’s crush on it and she wants to go there. Coops says they’ll put it to a vote. Brand illustrates the strength of her vote to go to her crush’s planet because she feels like Love is super important and it’s the reason that planet will be better because New Age bullshit that hinges on Coop’s inability to answer the question of “why do we love people who are dead unless it’s a quantum thing like time and I’m right unless you can give me a reason why it would help people be civilized in five seconds” (answer: shared experience between living members leading to further social bonds strengthening the resolve to save the Collective not the Individual) that proves that love is like Gravity and what? This part is such total bullshit I can’t even begin to start. Is every emotion quantum? Love, hate, ennui, envy, all of them? What the fuck is this dumb shit? I can’t believe that I had to REASON 2 REASON 2
So Coop tells her they are going to the other planet because apparently only white men get to vote (the other astronaut is black and completely unconsulted). They do and it’s a cold shithole and they find the camp of the guy who’s been there for untold years and it’s Matt Damon and come to find out he just wants off the fucking rock and faked the beacon reading so they would come get him and that’s the only reasonable justification for anything anyone does in the movie. Long story short, Matt Damon rigged his robot to blow up if anyone tries to fuck with it, eliminating Redshirt #2, has the most hilariously feeble fight with Coop but manages to crack Coop’s visor, which makes Brand come after Coop and gives Damon a chance to steal a ship to go back to the main spaceship which he fucks up and damages severely and which kills him. Coop and Brand are now on the damaged ship and Coop decides he’ll slingshot them around the black hole to reach the other planet and try to get data from the inside of the black hole for Reasons and they do that only he sends Brand alone because whatever and he and the robot go into the black hole where he finds himself not dead but behind the bookshelves of his house because Love really is the fifth dimension or something I shit you not, and he is the ghost and he makes all the things happen and the jittery second hand on the watch is him using Morse Code to fucking transmit the black hole data to Murph who doesn’t just toss aside the broken watch because Jesus H. Christ this movie is fucking dumb with this shit but anyway.
So Coop wakes up from a coma because who the fuck knows how he got out of the black hole, his daughter like figured Gravity or something out or whatever I don’t know or care anymore, she’s old and Coop Just Keeps Staying the Same Age like a high school girl and tells him before she dies to GTFO it doesn’t matter that his grandchildren and greatgrandchildren are there and none of them give one fuck about him anyway and he leaves to go find Brand on her planet and she’s the same age too and why didn’t she age anyway and how are these people getting fed I didn’t realize figuring out the inside of a black hole fed people and where is all this coming from and what the fuck exactly happened here and there is only one explanation:
I don’t like Christopher Nolan movies.