Interstellar: A Long-Time Coming Review

Warning: Spoilers below. If you have not seen Interstellar, do not continue reading. If you have (or for some strange reason you don’t care), and are interested in hearing my thoughts, please proceed.

If you have seen Interstellar as many times as I have (I work at the IMAX theater at the Udvar-Hazy Center), you know that it’s a great movie. However, you also know that it’s not without its faults. First, the ending is somewhat of a disappointment. In addition, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Finally, the humor is so subtle that it’s hard to recognize when it is presented to the audience. These factors shouldn’t discourage someone from seeing the film, but are in need of mentioning.

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The film is set in the future where civilization has been forced into an agricultural society. Former NASA pilot Cooper (Mathew McConaughey), his ten-year-old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy), his son Tom (Timothee Chalamat), and his father-in-law (John Lithgow) run a farm. Cooper’s daughter believes there is a ghost trying to communicate with her by pushing books off her bookshelf. Through dirt brought into Murph’s room by the ghost, Cooper and Murph are able to get coordinates that lead them to what is left of NASA. NASA is run by Professor John Brand (Michael Caine) who tells Cooper that through the inability to grow crops, human life will not be sustainable on earth.

In order to save the human race from extinction, four astronauts (Cooper, Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), and Romilly (David Gyasi)) and two futuristic robots (TARS and CASE) must travel through a wormhole. The wormhole is created by, “them (alien life).” The astronauts must retrieve data from the three potential worlds; Miller, Edmunds, and Mann so that either plan A (transporting humans to a new planet), or plan B (a new colony) can be put into action.

After finding out that Miller’s and Mann’s planets are inhabitable (because of a black hole; Gargantua), Brand and Cooper decide to slingshot around Gargantua, pushing them to Edmund’s planet to put plan B into action. During the travel around Gargantua, TARS and Cooper detach and end up in the black hole. The film concludes with Cooper having solved the problem of gravity. It is revealed that Cooper, being able to travel through time because of the Gargantua, was Murph’s ghost all along. As a result, seventy years later, human life is able to live in Cooper station which orbits Saturn. Cooper is reunited with Murph who is now one-hundred-and-twelve years old (Ellen Burstyn).

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While the film is visually stunning coupled with great acting, the end of the film is somewhat of a disappointment. Cooper spends the entire film trying to get home. He wants to get back to his family, especially his daughter. He cries when he finds out that he missed his son’s wedding, the birth of his grandchild, the death of his father-in-law, and his daughter is now only two years younger than him. In the end, the love between father and daughter is what saves the human race. Because this connection is so strong, there should be a dramatic reunion. While it is mind-blowing, initially, that his daughter is old enough to be his grandmother, Cooper hardly spends any time with her. He also doesn’t acknowledge his other family members in the room and they don’t acknowledge him. He has the opportunity to meet his great grandchildren and all he does is say two words to his daughter, and then leaves. Personally, this was a serious let-down.

Second, the end doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Two tools were used to save the human race; the wormhole and the physical representation of time in Gargantua. As mentioned previously, Cooper, Brand, Doyle, and Romilly are the only hope for the human race. They travel through the wormhole that was put there by, “them.” Later, Cooper falls past the horizon into the black hole to a physical representation of time (also put there by, “them”) and retrieves the quantum data through TARS, which ultimately saves the human race. Cooper figures out that, “them” are us; people from the future. Human beings from the future have somehow developed the technology to represent time as a physical presence. However, where did these people come from? Because Cooper and the other astronauts are the only hope humans have, and there’s no other way for humans to have survived, it’s not possible for human beings from the future to have put those two tools there. Undoubtedly, something that needed further development.

Finally, while the humor is not one of the most important parts of the film, it is still worth mentioning; especially when it is literally stated that a futuristic robot has a humor setting and is trying to tell a joke. It is clear that the actors in the film are not comedians. Not everyone will find every joke in the film funny, but when literally no one laughs every time a joke is told, it is clear that the humor is poorly executed. For example, when Cooper meets Brand for the first time, it’s clear that the two don’t see eye-to-eye. After Brand confirms that Cooper’s daughter is fine, she comments on Murph’s intelligence and says, “…must have a very smart mother.” Every time she says this, no one laughs; clever joke, but poorly executed.

While the writing and comedic relief could be better, the acting and the film’s visuals make the film worth seeing. Remembering back to the first time I saw the film, I remember being blown away when seeing Murph as an old woman and Cooper only two years older than the day he left. Also, the film resembles 2001: A Space Odyssey, with its music and its various shots of the planets. This is a treat for the eye. I believe, despite its faults, the film is worth seeing, just not 15 times (and still counting).

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