I don’t always have beefs. I saw Big Hero 6 this weekend and was rendered nearly beefless. But the thing about beefs is once you have one good beef core, more beefs tend to snowball around it, until you are in the middle of the second act taking out your notepad because the beef is so massive it goes supernova.
Not that I hated this movie. There’s some great stuff here–ideas, performances, cinematography, visual effects. Hating this movie would be like hating the guy at the Y who grunts really loud when he lifts. He’s just doing his thing, man. Let him do his thing.
Still, there are many silly things about Interstellar. There are almost too many silly things going on in Interstellar to document, so I am trying to pick only the most amusing or least remarked upon by everyone else’s lists of silly things.
Some heckles contributed by very good-looking co-hecklers. Absolutely uncontrollable amounts of spoilers ahead.
1. There’s a food blight we never see, which doesn’t seem related at all to a series of suffocating dust storms, so we get not one but TWO unexplained ongoing apocalypses.
2. Earth managed to lose 6 billion humans, key food staples, and MRI machines, but keep all infrastructure with regard to water, electricity, fossil fuels, textiles, textbook publishing, auto repair, orthodontia…
3. For a food-depleted world dependent on everybody farming, 1) nobody does any damn farming and 2) food scarcity is only spoken about, never seen, and 3) there is no issue with Dad Cooper going on a corn-killing joyride. Come on, man, milk a goat!
4. For a moon-landing-denying civilization of luddites so depopulated and decentralized there’s no more national military, there’s still a federal government gathering taxes (on what? from who?) and siphoning billions into a stealth space silo making a stealth space shot.
5. For a movie suggesting a global apocalypse, this movie never ventures from one town. May I never complain about an opening credits montage again.
6. Why does the dusty “binary” (thin band = 0, thick band = 1, separated by gaps) have three states? WHAT DOES A GAP MEAN AND WHY DOESN’T THE DUST MEAN ONE AND THE GAP MEAN ZERO AND WHAT CHARACTER SET IS HE USING AND HOW THE EFF DO YOU HAVE A CHARACTER SET MEMORIZED?
7. What is the Morse code for “square root”?
8. Why is NASA having a board meeting in the middle of the night?
9. Who had to call the Endurance‘s original pilot to let him/her know the gig was being given to a random dude who showed up the night before?
10. Where is the rocket launched from that nobody notices, until later when “the whole world is counting on” the mission?
11. Fifth dimensional superbeings might have done better by sending a seed bank, and perhaps before 6 billion people dropped dead.
12. How did NASA get tens of thousands of fertilized eggs for a secret project? How are one or two people are going to raise thousands of human hatchlings to adulthood? Without a Costco?
13. Didn’t the first batch of astronauts to this galaxy (the batch with Miller, Mann, and Edmunds) have a space station? If so, where is it? And why didn’t they place probes on their respective planets but spend most of their time chilling at the station? For that matter, why send meatbags when you have prehensile sprinter robots?
14. In space and on the remote planets, what are the astronauts eating?
16. The whole altering-the-past-but-there’s-apparently-just-one-timeline hinge of the plot… I can’t even… how did he know an unknown thing to tell it to himself before he knew it? So I won’t.
SILLY CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS
17. These are the least-prepared, least-resourceful astronauts imaginable. Dad “I just signed on yesterday” Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is the only idea guy on the team. They come out of the wormhole with no clear plan of action in place. They visit the skyscraper-wave planet without glancing around for, you know, periodic skyscraper-sized waves, they land on water in their water-loggable vessel, they send out two meatbag astronauts to retrieve a data recorder instead of the PREHENSILE SPRINTER BOT (TARS, voiced by Bill Irwin).
Then, when crisis arises due to Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) making a series of deadly blunders, Cooper’s the only one who thinks to deploy the PREHENSILE SPRINTER BOT. (Big ups to the robots in this movie, which were the best part.)
18. Astronaut Romilly (David Gyasi) stays awake for enough of a 23-year solo wait to visibly age–apparently about ten years. Aside from that much time in isolation being a Castaway-type psychological torment, it’s very bad for the sanity and IQ. Wouldn’t NASA have some sort of policy like “hey maybe don’t keep yourself in conscious isolation for more than a month, like, two, tops.” Romilly explains he didn’t “want to sleep half [his] life away,” which 1) contradicts his comfort with the 2 years of sleep en route to Saturn and 2) indicates he DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HOW HYPERSLEEP WORKS VIS-À-VIS LIFE. Also WHAT HAS HE FOUND TO EAT ALL THIS TIME.
19. Amelia Brand wants to go to planet X next because she’s in love with the scientist there–a man she hasn’t seen in ten years. The craziest thing here isn’t that she thinks “follow your heart” is good scientific policy, but that any 30+-year-old woman would want to rekindle the relationship she had in her early 20s.
20. But perhaps Amelia’s emotional maturity isn’t the best in general because
- she seriously makes the worst choices on the wave planet,
- she’s more sorry that her actions lost Cooper time with his daughter than that they directly contributed to another astronaut’s death, and
- she gives Cooper a major “I hope you’re happy” cold shoulder for not wanting to follow her “love is a physical force” logic. Mature!
Speaking of women characters holding grudges…
21. Murphy Cooper (Mackenzie Foy/Jessica Chastain) sustains a 23-year grudge against her dad for leaving when she was ten. What an actual human being might feel is a 23-year guilt trip for cold-shouldering her dad the moments before his lifelong departure.
But in this movie actual character beats are traded for lots and lots of crying–some affecting, some not. The more successful emotional moments come from the fact that…
22. Dad Cooper is super tear-jerkily devoted to his daughter, Murphy. In comparison he gives approximately one fig about his son, Tom. Maybe if he had, his son wouldn’t have turned out to be such a dust-denying weirdo, which brings us to…
23. Grown Tom Cooper (Casey Affleck) has a wife and kid who develop such severe lung problems (the kid coughs once, offering helpfully “the dust” as if WE COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHY HE MIGHT BE COUGHING) that as soon as designated medical guy Getty (Topher Grace) gives those lungs a listen he says “you have to leave… right now.” Tom is all like “nuh-uh.”
- Tom’s wife expresses NO OPINION about what the family should do, content to go or not go as the people around her family see fit,
- it is unspecified where they should go, or how they’ll survive there,
- there is no sense of why the immediacy is so immediate.
Grown Murph Cooper’s solution is to set Tom’s fields on fire, distracting him and a handful of brave firefighting neighbors, so she can evacuate the family and then have a long sit in her childhood bedroom. That’s all fine. But THEN, when Tom comes back from the fire-fighting to his trickster sister and evacuating family, Murph gives him a hug and everything’s OK. I suppose they cut out the part where Tom flies into a hideous rage.
24. Elder Murph (Ellen Burstyn) hypersleeps two years to get to the Saturn-adjacent space station to chat with Dad Cooper for two minutes. Meanwhile her closest family joins her at deathbed-side on the the Saturn space station, which means either this elderly, bed-bound woman was previously NOT in proximity to her closest family, or they hyperslept-traveled with her. Maybe Elder Murphy should have been old but relatively mobile, and there should have been a longer reconciliation before Dad Cooper hit the road, but the movie had been going for two hours and fifteen minutes at this point, so I can’t fault them for sprinting to the finish.
25. Why did the combines all mystically gather at the Cooper farm? Didn’t that have something to do with magnetism? Doesn’t nothing else in this movie have anything to do with magnetism?
26. Professor Brand is called Professor Brand by everyone despite having 100% to do with NASA and 0% to do with school. Is the secret NASA really Hogwarts West? Is “Dr.” Brand too confusing? Is his first name “Professor”? That would explain why Murph, who has known him for decades, upon approaching his deathbed, non-jokingly greets him with, “Hey, Professor.”
27. Least believable dialog: “Pray you never find out how good it can be to see another human face.” – Dr. Mann (Matt Damon), upon waking from hypersleep. Pray you never get saddled with dialog this awkward.
28. A ten-year-old girl might have The Stand (winning this movie’s blue ribbon for Least Flattering Comparison) in her library, but she’d probably want to slip an Anne of Green Gables book jacket on that mofo. Either that, or Murph never told Dad Cooper he really messed up his apoca-Amazon order of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.