June 28, 2016

Interstellar (2014)
Grade: 49/100

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine

What it's about. Set some decades in the future, although it looks like 1980 Iowa. Apparently, human population is devastated due to crop famine, and the only thing that grows is corn. The remaining people live in farmer communities.

Among these farmers are ornery Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), his worshipful young daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy), her nothing-much farmer-trainee older brother, and Cooper's nothing-much dad (John Lithgow).

One day the dust and bookshelves send messages to Murph, who is even more clever than she is cute. These messages send the duo on a fool's errand to find NASA's secret base, and in no time flat wise old Michael Caine sends Cooper off into space with a hottie (Anne Hathaway) and a black dude (David Gyasi). But Cooper is boss, even though he's just shown up and has been a farmer for the past 20 years.

Because it's a movie, the astronauts journey through a conveniently placed wormhole to some other galaxy where three supposedly life-supporting planets orbit a black hole. Much nonsense ensues, eventually sending Cooper back in time to communicate with his clever young daughter through inanimate objects in her bedroom.

How others will see it. Chris Nolan has the golden touch, and proved this once again with Interstellar. The costly film was a box office success, and generated predominantly positive press, fueled by resounding fan approval.

A sign that something was wrong came from its Oscar nominations: five, four in technical categories, and one for the score. None for the script, direction, acting, or cinematography. None for Best Picture.

At imdb.com, the film has a spectacular 909K user reviews and a nearly as spectacular user rating of 8.6 out of 10. As one might expect, the ratings do drop, from 9.0 under 18, to 7.9 over age 45. Women over 45, the least impressionable demographic, grade it lowest of all at 7.7, although this is still a high grade.

Most viewers are bowled over by the sci-fi graphics and the father-daughter saves the world love story. And that Anne Hathaway is awfully cute. As is child model Mackenzie Foy.

How I felt about it. For me, this movie was bogus the whole way through. We visit a planet apparently completely covered by three feet of water, except for the waves. They have to land on this planet to learn this? They can't send a probe? Where is this planet getting its Earth-similar warmth and light from? Certainly not the black hole. How can time on this planet be thousands of times faster (one hour equals seven years) relative to time on Earth?

We see a spacecraft approach a black hole, then dart away. It would be crushed flatter than a pancake if it came within a billion miles of it.

I must also mention that Cooper apparently transitions from an interloper who found NASA, to their lead astronaut on their next interstellar mission, in one weekend.

Does Murph really have to set his brother's highly important corn crop on fire in order to research her old bedroom? Are we to believe that Cooper can communicate with Murph through the watch, bookcase books, and dust, but can't leave a note that says, "Hi, Murph. Hope it's not too dusty there. E equals emcee squared. Love, Cooper."

Then there's the matter of the magnificent wormhole, placed near Saturn. It would actually make more sense if it were placed there by aliens. Because when exactly did humans achieve the technical know-how to put it there, backward in time? Particularly when the Earth is enduring a cataclysmic event that is extinguishing human life?

We are to believe that Cooper had to pass through the wormhole to get to the black hole to send gravity data back to Earth to allow Murph to solve the equations, and, somehow, save the human race. This data is communicated through Murph's watch, which of course she happens to find and see. In real life she would have taken the watch with her to NASA and not left it there on the shelf.

But, supposing she leaves it there, and comes back for it decades later, and spends hours monitoring the twitching second hand, and from this is able to solve her gravity equations, which allow the remaining beings on space to flee the dying Earth for space stations and planets and whatever. Good luck with that.

But it's a Catch-22. She can't solve the equations without a visit from future Cooper. Cooper can't visit from the future if he can't go through the wormhole. And the wormhole will never be there unless it is created by future generations of scientists whose research depends upon Murph's equations.

Some would argue that we should ignore all the silly stuff, such as Matt Damon reporting that his ammonia planet has breathable air so that he will be rescued. He then attempts to kill one of his rescuers. Great plan!

TARS the robot looks like the letter M with the sides pushed in. And can walk in all terrains like that? Hasn't the wheel been invented yet?

The special effects are cool. Of course they are. The film had a budget of $165M. But you can't just spend your way into a good movie. The plot, the characters, and the script have to hold together, for a start. That just not the case here.

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