Interstellar

I love science fiction.

I did not like this movie.

And you know, I can’t tell exactly why.  I’m a big fan of apocalyptic dystopias and last-minute saves (try Cities in Flight).  I love big rockets and spacecraft and all that jazz.

What I don’t like is boring.  And that’s what Interstellar ultimately was for me.  It felt much longer than its already considerable length.  And I think the answer is that while the film talks a good game about love, it doesn’t really show the good game.  The characters are far too sterile, even as we’re told they’re not.

Example (spoiler):  In a fairly early scene, Cooper is told by his daughter’s principal and teacher that Murph has been getting into fights for insisting on the truth of America’s 1969 moon landing.  The teacher, who is not all that much younger than Cooper (who has flown at least into the stratosphere) teaches and believes the line that the space program (at least the lunar portion) was faked; that it was no more than propaganda designed to force the USSR to bankrupt itself.

Leaving aside the factual wrongness of that last assertion (nobody even believes that the arms race was intended to bankrupt the USSR; and NASA [and USSR equivalent] budgets were never more than a tiny portion of their respective countries’ military budgets), Cooper’s response is critically wrong.

In response to the teacher’s (or principal’s, I forget which) comment about “useless machines,” he reminds them that one of the useless machines that no longer exists is the MRI, which might have saved his departed spouse, which would be a good thing, because she’d be meeting with the teacher, and she was always the calm one.

Cooper’s lines are delivered coolly and calmly.  But would an astronaut be cool and calm about such a matter?  Wouldn’t he at least yell once?

And that was pretty much my favorite scene.

By all means, go and see it if you haven’t.  It’s not a terrible movie.  But it is a legacy of Star Wars and the drowning of character in a sea of special effects.

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2 Responses to Interstellar

  1. I think that your problem with Cooper’s calmness stems from a misunderstanding of the era he comes from. Technology hasn’t evolved in general on that Earth in quite some time- yet, it’s still far beyond what we can understand.

    Cooper’s father-in-law speaks of the days of his youth, when “they were constantly inventing new things,” and of how that innovation seems to have stagnated.

    Cooper isn’t an astronaut of the generation that went to the moon. He isn’t even an astronaut of the generation who flew the space shuttle. Nor is he of the current generation that catches a ride on Soyuz. He’s not even a member of the rising generation who might fly the upcoming SLS. He’s two, three or four generations past that.

    The film is set in an ambiguous period and is littered with seemingly-current technology, but it’s not even the foreseeable near future- my guess would be that at least a hundred years have passed between the moon landing and Cooper’s challenge of Murph’s teacher.

    • That may be so (the ambiguous far future), but Cooper is clearly an astronaut; he dreams of a crash on one of his flights, and when Professor B mentions that he was “one of the best pilots” or something like that, he says that he “barely left the stratosphere” (barely, but yes, he left). There’s also a mention that NASA was asked to bomb some cities and that Cooper (or all of NASA?) refused.

      Cooper knows that humans have flown in space. He’s been there. He’s not an astronaut of our generation, but of a post-shuttle shuttle. Remember also that as old as the father-in-law is, there is a considerable overlap of generations.

      He’s maybe 30 years older than Cooper, max. And Cooper is maybe somewhere in his 40s.

      I did like the universal robots, though.

      No, my problem with Cooper is that he doesn’t come across as human. Nor, honestly, do many of the other characters. The tech was nice, but as for the people, there’s a fundamental difference between *talking* about being human and *showing* it, and I think the film fell into showing special effects and telling about people (interestingly, that’s exactly the opposite of the Ray Bradbury (or even Star Trek) approach).

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