Skip to main content

Interstellar

You should watch Interstellar. Because I’m going to write a follow-up article that will be full of spoilers I thought I’d get a quick non-spoiler review out there. 



Christopher Nolan has created one of the biggest and most encouraging movies of the past decade and this work, flawed though it might be, should absolutely be watched and appreciated on its own terms.

For starters, this is a beautiful film. That in itself should be all the recommendation the average person needs. Why should you listen to Beethoven, or see Michelangelo’s David ? Because they bring a certain amount of aesthetic enjoyment. For three solid hours, this movie creates arresting, mind-blowing imagery. 

Interstellar also represents a serious exploration of realistic science. While I’m not totally convinced that all of the science checks out, enough of it does to have kept Kip Thorne on as a scientific consultant. The parts that aren’t realistic are defensible in terms of extrapolation from existing science. In other words, this is not Guardians of the Galaxy (as much as I enjoyed that movie), and this is not a fantasy film. This movie does what I think Jurassic Park did, take a certain set of ideas percolating unseen in the scientific world and popularize them for the general public. Say what you want, I think that represents altruism. People passionate about paleontology knew about the warm-blooded dinosaurs and fleet-footed velociraptors for years before Spielberg ever put them on screen. But once that movie came out an entire generation of movie-goers began to view dinosaurs in a way more harmonious with modern thinking. 

In a similar way, Interstellar incorporates ideas such as time dilation, wormholes, and exoplanets that have been staples of science fiction for decades. But to have them displayed, framed and elevated upon an IMAX screen is another experience entirely. I refuse to be one of those sci fi fans that treats this art like some sort of walled private garden. The insights of speculative fiction and science in general should be shared and discussed by as many people as possible. Interstellar takes the concerns of hard sci fi and makes them accessible and real. 

Finally I would say you should watch it because the movie plain works. On a storytelling level. On an emotional level. I’m not sure it’s my favorite Nolan movie, but I do think it represents a step forward in his powers as a movie maker. Unlike his typical hermetically sealed puzzle-box style of film-making (Inception, Memento, and the Prestige), this movie opens up, offers characters unafraid of suffering and agonizing over decisions in a messy, complicated, human way. 

As I suggested, this movie is not without serious problems. Leaving discussions about the science to other more knowledgeable folks, I'd just focus on the quality of the ideas presented. While I enjoyed the rumination about individual survival versus the continuation of humanity, I think in places it could have been better handled. I don't have an issue with the sentiment as much as the periodically clunky dialogue. 

Also, parts of this movie feel retrograde. The world Christopher and Edmund Nolan created deliberately rolls back the technological development of their future, because of war and the hazily described Blight. Fair enough. But, compared to recent space opera such as Peter Watt's "Blindsight," I'm not sure enough was done to really explore the ramifications of artificial intelligence like the show-stealing TARS and CASE. The societies seem basically the same as  today. I guess what I'm trying to say is, Nolan's take on future humanity isn't weird enough

But those are quibbles. I'm sure if you watch it you'll find a few things that don't sit right or bother you, but the point is - watch it. We, as fans of science fiction, have a say on what is produced in Hollywood and beyond. If Interstellar is a success, more films like it will be produced. Who knows, that might just allow the creation of that Platonic ideal of a hard science fiction movie that pleases every single science fiction fan without reservation.

In the meantime, Interstellar is here and it's spectacular.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

Even 23 years later, I remember 1994 and Kurt Cobain's death. I experienced that moment as a kind of inside out personal crisis. I felt ashamed by his death. As though his exit in someway indicted my own teenage miseries. "I wish I was like you," goes the verse in 'All Apologies,' "Easily amused." I felt as though a check I hadn't remembered writing had just been cashed. 


SP Miskowski's book, named after the first half of that line, is in the words of another reviewer, a novel that shouldn't work. The narrator is unlikeable, unreliable, and dead. The plot is almost entirely told as a flashback and long sections of the novel concern the inner processes of the writer. The daily grind to summon up enough self-esteem to carry a sentence to its logical conclusion is a real struggle, people, but it ain't exactly riveting.

But the thing is, this novel works. It is one of the best things I've read all year and a real achievement in weird ficti…

What I Read in 2017

The third in my series of year-end lists is literature. As in past years, I've divided this post into two categories: Novels and short stories. Each of these stories made 2017 just a bit brighter for me and I hope this list includes at least a writer or two new to you.


Novels:
I Wish I was You by SP Miskowski: This was the subject of a review earlier this year. The way I feel about this novel, the tragedy of a talented person crippled by anger and regret, transformed into a monstrous avatar of wrath, has not really left me. Beyond the perfection of its prose and its preternatural subject matter, I feel like this is one of the best evocations of the mid-nineties I've seen published. There's something about this book that lingers with me long past the concerns of its plot and characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is this work moved me. 2017 would have been a lot dimmer if I hadn't read this work.New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson: Robinson writes next-level sp…

Review of "Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste

Part of the reason American Gods works is that it offers a kind of reward to folk lore mavens and religious study majors. Do you have a working familiarity with obscure Northern European mythologies? Are you able to describe what Neil Gaiman got right and what he fudged a bit in terms of the Egyptian religion? Then the guessing games of that novel - just which Middle Eastern Goddess is this? - magnify its other charms. 
"Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste (released by Broken Eye Books), is a novella for people, like me, who are waiting impatiently for the next season of Bryan Fuller's show. It's not set in that universe, certainly, but approaches the question of folklore from a similar perspective. Namely, that myths have a definite, physical explanation and your knowledge of such things will expand your enjoyment of the work. In the case of Pretty Marys, the stories are urban legends and nursery rhymes about young women. The main character, Rhee, is named…