Space Ether 9th Symphony

blackhole_smallWarning: spoiler alert (I think) regarding the film Interstellar. Good luck.

Surprisingly interesting but weak film. Second thought: Long on the drama, unnecessary drama, weird drama. Obviously I’m confused about what the story of the movie is about. Or should I just say: the visuals are fantastic, the film has incorporated an odd, maybe twisted sci-fi story that doesn’t quite take anyone anywhere, except into space, I think. Or wait. Maybe there’s a love interest in the story? No. There might be a bad guy or even two? Maybe. And then, hidden deep within the event horizon of a blackhole, there is an evil plot to rule the world. No. Not quite. The world, the earth, is ending. So there’s really nothing left there to be evil with. (If that makes any sense.) But there is the mysticism of black-holes. Oh boy. I’m confused. Or maybe not. Let me start again.

I read a review of the movie Interstellar when it first came out that said it was a new generation’s 2001 Space Odyssey. Wow. That’s a hell-of-a claim–especially since I believe Kubrick’s masterpiece will be shown in a thousand years. So after I read such a pretentious review I decided there was no hurry to see the movie. Please. Why would anyone want to compare it to 2001? Better put, is this the director’s failed attempt at topping Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece? Seriously? I mean, to me, that’s like saying [insert any pop musician here] is going to top Beethoven’s 9th. But I digress.

Since the iTunes price hasn’t fluctuated–from Apple’s greed-pricing–there was still no motivation to see this movie anytime soon. When I saw that this was being shown on my USAir/AA 701 flight from FRA > PHL, I thought: what the hell. And let me get this out of the way since I’m having a hard time keeping it in. Adding Matt Damon’s character’s flip-out served absolutely no purpose whatsoever in this film. In fact, Matt Damon was such a distrubance, I almost wanted to hit the stop button–but instead I hit the pause button and headed to the Airbus A330’s plastic bathroom made for people that are skinny. Wait. All airliners are made for skinny people, right? And I assure, dear worst-reader, I wasn’t even close to being the biggest person on the flight. In fact, I was smaller than most of the ageing, old-bat stewardess that for whatever reason serve travellers plastic meals at the thirty-thousand feet for the rest of their lives. But I’m off subject again. So let me get back on it. Interstellar is a movie that does nothing but feed the arrogance of a director. There. I said it. And I’m starting to seriously like it. There. I got that out, too.

When the price of the DVD comes down earth I want to own this movie. It is truly a fascinating visualisation of interstellar travel–even though the story is borderline ludicrous. For example. What’s the point of only subtlety portraying how Man has ruined the planet and thereby is in need of interstellar travel? I mean the whole global warming discussion has turned silly anyway. Or have you not read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear? Can’t wait for them to make a silly movie out of that one. Which brings me to this question: Why can’t the motivation of Interstellar just be the science? Or maybe just higher knowledge? How ’bout laughing at religious nutbags? Seriously. Each time the lead opened his Tex-ass southern draw mouth I hoped to the scientific high heavens that he wasn’t gonna spew some gospel krapp in which case I had the stop-button ready to push, ready to pee in the skinny bathroom of the A330 once again. And the fact that all there is to eat is sand and corn… What’s that all really about? Sand and corn and interstellar travel? Yeah, that’s the movie. Or is there a message embedded somewhere? No. Probably not. For this is most certainly no one’s 9th symphony. Yet. Those images! The film making. The idears and the science and the… post 1970’s Star Wars animation which told us we need robots to function in the future. What a robot this movie has, too!

And what about the science? Explanations of time travel and blackholes kept me pinned to the screen, especially when Matthew McCaughnehay wasn’t talking. The visuals and camera work of (Nolan’s) space is brilliant (and probably the only valid reason to watch the movie). How other worlds are imagined and then presented, though, is kinda weak. Three planets are visited, one of which is inhabitable, is at best a nice try but I don’t know who to blame for what feels like a cop-out. Seriously. The director could have taken a few hints from the director of Avatar. In fact, I still have dreams of those floating rocks! Anywho. What science is behind these worlds the movie shows? One has waves (Hawaii), the other ice (Greenland) and the last one, which is only shown for a few seconds, could be… (Arizona). Obviously in this sci-fi future it’s still not possible to know whether a planet is accessible only through a warm-hole. I mean, who did the director consult to come up with that mess?

One thing that really stuck with me while watching this movie was the threading of the supernatural. Or was it incorporating a higher being? Whatever it was the weirdest part of the story was also the only way to make the physics of it plausible. The “They” that was referred to through out the story was odd enough. God is now a pronoun. And the fact that “They” are somehow in control of more than three dimensions. Yeah, and? It reminded me of a similar thread in the movie “Contact”. In that movie the “They” are the ones that send the information to earth on how to build the warm-hole machine. The “They” appeared before Jodie Foster’s character when her vehicle lands on the beach after traversing a worm-hole. The difference to Contact though is that it doesn’t require “They” in order to make the physics of the movie plausible. I find this a weakness in Interstellar that is borderline unforgivable. Either Nolan or the writer (who is the writer) felt that something else was needed to justify the physics/science. An odd choice of duplicity, dichotomy, contradiction, etc.

Having cherrypicked enough, dear worst-reader, I’ll leave it that. Sorry if I’ve spoiled anything with this worst-writing (rant) but at least you can be assured of this: the movie is worth seeing for its visuals alone. The characters and actors that portray them carry no weight whatsoever in the film, anyone could play them. Parts of the story, although silly, get quickly submerged in the ether of something. But I don’t know what the ether is nor do I know what the something is–which I guess is the point of calling it ether. Or? At best this film is someone’s wonderful failed attempt at topping Stanley Kubrick’s 9th Symphony. I guess. So if you haven’t seen it, see it right now.

Rant on. -Tommi