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…

"A Breath from the Sky" Story Announcement!

I am thrilled to share the news my story, "Promontory," will appear in an upcoming anthology of unusual possession stories published by the incredible Martian Migraine Press. The anthology, "A Breath from the Sky,"puts together a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and twenty other atypical stories of possession. Judging from the cover and the list of impressive authors, I'm anticipating pure awesomeness. "Promontory" is a possession story and one of my more overtly horror tales, so I'm overjoyed that it found a host, er, home here. I am sharing the Table of Contents below, as well as a link to the announcement on the Martian Migraine website to provide a sense of what this collection will be about. The cover is amazing, the other authors selected for the collection are amazing, and I have to say, having a story appear alongside a classic tale like HP's "Colour Out of Space," feels pretty darn amazing. I hope to provide more information abou…

In Defense of Brevity

As a writer of short speculative fiction, I am also a reader. I was a reader first and my love of the genre leads me to want to write short fiction. I think one of the most important things a writer can do is read contemporary's work. If nothing else, you're likely to be entertained - there's a great amount of stupendous short fiction available out there for exactly nothing. But it also tends to helps to develop craft. 
Long-time readers of this blog know I write up recommendations of a few short stories each month I really enjoyed. "Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper by Carl Wiens" was my favorite story of the year. The first line of this story pretty much sums it up: "The time traveler set up a studio apartment in Abraham Lincoln’s skull in the frozen moment before Booth’s bullet burst through and rewired history," but I also enjoyed "The Girl Who Escaped from Hell" By Rahul Kanakia and "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies," by Brooke Bol…