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Cinema Signal: Too much bending of logic and way too long. Amber light is a warning. It's for those who can forgive these problems. MOBILE version |
. "Interstellar"

Writer-director Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight Rises") is quoted (The Hollywood Reporter) as saying "...on Interstellar it's about the science..." and therein lies the problem I have in accepting, admiring or supporting a film whose concept is way beyond the medium's ability to portray in any credible way. I understand the vanity that compels a director to go farther and farther, grander and grander. It's partly a one-upmanship thing but also an adventuristic stretch of the medium.

In this instance, such defiance of limitations produced a phony representation of the cosmos, let alone a logic-bending storyline that's based on the witholding of the truth, both character to character and filmmaker to audience. The reigning issue isn't science; it's gullibility. For this member of the audience, it asks too much -- too far from reason and a weak springboard for talent to thrive.

On the science side, what we get is underbudgeted, repetitive shots with changes of artwork, adolescent space junk and stratospheric pretentions.

If only Nolan had a $Billion dollar budget. That might have allowed him to pull off the grandiosity of the concept.

A few years into the future, the earth is in a spiral of death that can't be reversed. Because of global imbalances, oxygen (O2) is slowly disappearing and all life that depends on it is doomed. Food is getting scarce enough to cause panic. Physicist Professor Brand (Michael Caine, "Inception"), at the helm of a now covert NASA, became aware of the process some years ago and has been studying it from before it reached this near-terminal stage.

Earth is into what may now be the utmost consequence of global warming: crops failing, producing less oxygen, and the slow rise of nitrogen, an inert gas that doesn't support life. (It is, however, in our air and in our bloodstreams).

For years Brand hasn't raised the alarm bells in order to avoid the hysteria it would set into motion. How do you tell the world that their planet is in a situation from which there is no escape, no known cure, no antidote and no chance of avoiding annihilation?

Holding off on what that would set into motion, he's been looking for an escape... to another life-supporting planet that could host humankind. He finds several candidate orbs on the other side of a worm-hole in the vicinity of planet Saturn. The task now is to send out a mission to prove his hypothesis and select the planet that has the properties of air that would sustain life.

Once that's done, it'll be a matter of transporting earth's six billion human residents to their new home. Best wishes on that!

There's no mention of the fact that it's not a question of another planet having oxygen, but that it must be in the right proportion of atmospheric gases. No large quantities of Methane, for example, which would cancel the whole idea. Just as bad would be pure oxygen, which is toxic and would flat-out kill anyone who comes out of their space suit.

The air we breathe:
The composition of the air we breathe on earth is 78% Nitrogen + 21% oxygen + relatively small trace amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases and chemicals. As much as 60% oxygen is used for medical purposes; 16% is typical for emergency rescue. Human life on another planet, then, isn't just a matter of it having oxygen, but the critical balance of all its gases.
In any case, Brand turns to his inner circle for the mission to find the worm-hole and prove his theorem. He plucks son-in-law corn farmer and ex-Nasa pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyer's Club") away from his home life with his two children (Tom, 15, and Murph, his beloved 10-year old daughter) and father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow) to man space ship Endurance. To womanize the mission is the professor's daughter Brand (Anne Hathaway), a scientist.

Central to the sacrifices to be made is Cooper's special relationship to Murph (Mackenzie Foy at 10; Jessica Chastain ("A Most Violent Year"), 37-ish; Ellen Burstyn as an older woman). This puts great emphasis on the theme of love and human-to-human ties amidst a disaster and a high degree of hopelessness and melancholy. Planetary collapse comes down to the family level, forcing agonizing decisions impossible to make.

Cooper, still pretty much a space-jock, takes on the mission with dedication to do everything possible to save humanity. The relationship between pilot and co-pilot is a baffling one, with Ms Brand setting out the ground rules of nothing physical during their long exploration. It's not baffling because it could happen, but if you're trying to save mankind, why wouldn't procreation be a reasonable strategy?

Filling out the crew are Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyasi) and TARS, a robotic computer (over-voiced by Bill Irwin) with a huge personality and a cross between 2001's Hal and "Star Wars" droid C-3PO with more volume.

Besides the difficulty I had with the concept, there's the writing. So little effort is made to convince me that these character have ever seen the inside of a science lab. To call any of them "scientists" with the dialogue written for them is a travesty. The scientific know-how and familiarity with space vehicle power was a little light on gravity for me.

Other world visuals and settings are stunning -- as far as they go. As for the performances, this is not McConnaughey or Hathaway's shining moment.

Then, of course, there's the running time. A two-hour movie is one thing. But a three hour one? Let's just say that, for all the themes intended to rocket our minds into a futuristic escape plan, it's too overloaded to get off the ground.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Poorly written, Perceptive
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review

I disagree with the review. i may say this is my favourite movie for this year. Gladly spend 3 hours of my time to watch such a splendid with breath taking affects movie. Exelent [sic] performance from Matthew McConnaughey as always. And the music is making everything to sound so human.

                                                           ~~ B.Chimbuleva 
In terms of writing, I thought the review was Very well written
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 10

too long/ incomprehensible a lot of the time/ hard to understand the dialogue/ shallow characters

                                                           ~~ elryje 
Poorly written
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
Site rating: 1

I disagree with many points in this review: One of the points in which this review is incredibly wrong is the "oxygen in right proportions" part. Verifying that exact aspect of the planets was the whole purpose of the first 12 missions. To see if the planets could sustain life, human life to be precise. That includes "breathable air" which equates to "...the right proportion of atmospheric gases.". So... you messed up there. I mean the movie goes as far as to say that the 'Ice Ball Planet' has 80% Earth's gravity but no breathable air. Therefore not a candidate as Humanities new home... All in all, this is a horrible review.

                                                           ~~ Jake 
Off base
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
Site rating: 3

I disagree with several points of this review; 1) The suitability of planets for humans. There are numerous factors which must be present for humans to either directly colonize or terraform a planet. If you expect a film to mention all of these, you were expecting a documentary, not something to be watched in the cinema. 2) Transporting several billion people. Only a few hundreds of people are needed to repopulate the species. 3) The comment on procreation between Cooper and Brand. As stated above, you need a few hundred humans to repopulate, not 2. The bible is a children's book. 4) Running time. That is a very weak argument. Films with big plots take longer time to present properly.

                                                           ~~ Jake 
Off base
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
Site rating: 1

It's amusing how you rag on the science and get all the science wrong in your own review...this is an amusingly waste of space / time...

                                                           ~~ AJP 
Well written
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
Site rating: 3

I would have to disagree with you on the point you make about the dialogue between the scientists being unbelievable. People sometimes forget that scientists are normal people like the rest of us. As someone who has spent a great deal of time in science labs around real scientists doing actual science, I found the portrayal of scientists in this movie to be refreshingly accurate. In most movies scientists are portrayed as scrawny nerds with glasses. Their conversations are intentionally over crowded with jargon to confuse the audience and make the scientists seem smarter. In real life, scientists talk to each other just like any other normal people do.

                                                           ~~ Simon 
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