Movie Review: Interstellar


There is a certain type of film that asks you to swallow a really implausible premise from the outset. For example, a giant monster movie will often ask you to accept that the best way to fight a giant monster is another giant monster, as opposed to a Hellfire missile. And for the most part, we happily accept this because we want to see giant monsters fight.

Interstellar is a little like that–higher in artistic quality, no doubt, but with an equally problematic premised. To wit, if a terrible blight is killing all the food crops so that humanity has very little to eat besides corn (a nutritionist’s nightmare), which is easier–colonize another planet, or create genetically-modified blight-resistant crops? Interstellar would have us believe that it’s colonizing another planet. But we want to see Matthew McConaughey fly into a black hole, so premise accepted. How was the movie?

The short answer is pretty good, though not great. Interstellar is the story of a mission to fly a spaceship through a mysterious wormhole and find a new planet for the human race to live on. Conceived by executive producer and black hole expert Kip Thorne, the movie tries to get the science as accurate as possible, and it mostly does, including the all-important no sound in space. However, there is one big problem: Mann’s World, the second planet the explorers visit. As someone who studies planetary atmospheres…No. Just no.

The film has its good and bad points. It is without doubt visually stunning. The science is mostly right (though improbable), and the story is entertaining, even if there are a few holes in it. But it is a bit overdone. For a three-hour movie the opening is very fast paced, trying to squeeze in a lot of material. The dialog is over the top in places. The nods to Contact (incidentally, another McConaughey film that Kip Thorne also worked on), as well as 2001 and 2010 were maybe a little too on-the-nose. And the musical score, with its massive organ crescendos, was impressive on its own, but drowned out too much of the story.

So where does that leave the movie? An ambitious project that tried to be larger than life in every possible way and succeeded, but at the cost of not telling the best story it could have. It’s a good film, but it’s no Gravity.

My rating: 4 out of 5.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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