Listen, I don’t get any pleasure out of writing this. Not only did I want to like Interstellar, I wanted to love it. In fact, I was sure I was going to love it. “Isn’t eleven o’clock a little late for a three hour movie on a work night?” my wife tried to put up a fight as I bought advance tickets on the Thursday before opening night. I assured her that it wasn’t too late. “Interstellar is going to be so amazing,” I told her, “it’s going be worth not getting a full night’s sleep tonight. Come on, don’t you remember Inception? Didn’t you like Batman? This is the same guy. Come on.” And finally she gave in, because, yeah, those were all really great movies.
But as we walked out of the theater sometime after two in the morning, I couldn’t help but feel a little unsettled. No, I wasn’t yet ready to admit that I hadn’t liked Interstellar. I wasn’t far enough removed from the eager anticipation leading up to seeing Interstellar. It had been all I’d been thinking about for the better part of October. Those feelings are hard to just shut off all at once, even if actually seeing Interstellar doesn’t at all match up to your expectations of what you thought seeing Interstellar was going to be like. Still, I couldn’t ignore that nagging sensation at the periphery of my consciousness. I thought, why don’t I feel pumped up? When I turned to my wife and said, “Did you like it? Wasn’t it good?” why did it feel forced, like someone else was talking about just having seen Interstellar? I chalked it up to just being overly tired, muttering an answer to my own question, “Yeah, it was good. What a great movie.”
But it’s been over a week now, and those feelings of doubt never got better. As the days accumulated, as I naturally brought up the subject of Interstellar in various conversations with friends and family, it got increasingly harder to say positive things about the movie. Eventually, I found myself questioning some of the more obviously shaky aspects of the plot. At first I blamed myself, I thought, it couldn’t have been Interstellar’s fault, it’s got to be me, there must be something I’m not getting on my end. I thought about maybe seeing it again, to clear up what had to have been my own misunderstanding, but I couldn’t get myself to buy another ticket.
I was forced at that point to confront my real experience watching Interstellar. And I guess now is where I’d give a spoiler alert, because as I started going through the story in my head, I wound up face-to-face with gaping plot holes and various inconsistencies. Like at the very beginning of the movie, when the books started falling off the shelves. Right away, I remember thinking to myself, that’s got to be Matthew McConaughey in the future. Did anybody else remember thinking that? And normally I love correctly guessing twist endings before they happen in the film, but I got no satisfaction here, it just felt cheap and way too easy.
Because yes, it was him, in the future, trying to communicate with his daughter in the past. But if that communication was possible, why was he only allowed to do it through the back of that bookcase? Couldn’t he have just gone right to the living room, maybe appeared in person, “Listen, I’m going to spell it out for you,” instead of sending cryptic Morse code dust patterns to his little kid daughter? And why did he have to dive into the center of a black hole to do it? Just think about that for a second, Matthew McConaughey dove into a black hole, and wound up behind a weird set of infinite bookcases in order to give his daughter a way too cryptic message, both trying to stop him from going into outer space, and yet simultaneously giving himself the exact coordinates necessary to stumble upon the captain’s position of the exact same outer space mission he was just trying to prevent.
And who’s setting this whole thing up? Who planted the wormhole and set up the whole multidimensional middle-of-the-black-hole bookcases? I have no idea how he figured it out, but Matthew McConaughey, once inside the black hole, explains (to who?) that it was us, that is, it’s human beings, but evolved so far into the future that they can’t communicate directly with the three-dimensional world. OK? OK, fine, whatever take that as a given. Then why couldn’t those future humans have made things maybe just a little bit easier? Why did they have to place the wormhole all the way out by Saturn? Couldn’t they have positioned the other end so that it landed right outside the choice habitable planet?
I could go on all day. Like, why did Matthew McConaughey think it was a good idea to go chasing after Anne Hathaway at the end? Didn’t she make it clear that she wanted to be reunited with her lover? Sure, that cutaway scene at the end showed us that he was killed in action, but she didn’t know that, and neither did McConaughey, and so what, he was just going to show up on some faraway world and try to break up a romance between the only two adult beings living on that planet?
And what about at the beginning? Why did those tractors all converge around the house? Why did that Indian atmospheric probe wind up circling McConaughey’s farm? Did anybody else cringe a little bit when Anne Hathaway started talking about love being the most quantifiable data available in making her case to follow her astronaut boyfriend? If the black astronaut had enough food and supplies on that spaceship to last himself thirty years while McConaughey and Hathaway were stuck on the tidal wave planet, why couldn’t NASA have scrounged up the resources to let the other twelve astronauts survive on their planets for more than only two years? Why did it have to be such a grim, one-way trip? When Matt Damon woke up on the ice planet, why did he have to try to kill McConaughey? Couldn’t he have just been like, “OK, I was a coward, I wanted to survive, now let’s get out of here, together.” Does being a coward naturally lead to murdering the people that risked their lives to save you? Was there really enough space on those floating habitats at the end to save the entire world’s population? Why were there only white people who seemed to have made it off the planet OK? How was McConaughey able to just steal his own spaceship at the end without so much as an alarm going off? They don’t have security cameras in the future?
No, Interstellar was not a good movie. It was a cool movie, I guess, and what I mean by that is, it looked cool. Like, if instead of actually having had to watch Interstellar, if I could have just walked by someone else watching Interstellar, maybe have caught some of the cool visuals and trippy space music, I might have said to myself, wow, that looks like a pretty cool movie. But I didn’t get that. I had to watch it, the whole thing. And I had to think about it. And I’m seeing it more and more clearly, that I was disappointed. I was really, really disappointed. Interstellar was a bust.