Interstellar Downplays Its Scifi Bent

After a restful weekend and two jam-packed days of writing and puppy-tending (which seems to be my life now), I’m finally sitting down to write about Insterstellar.

I was interested in seeing the movie but I’ll be honest, I did very little research up front. I saw the trailer, and what I saw there didn’t prepare me well for the scifi bent of the film. Whoever cut the trailers left out all the fun stuff—wormholes and Goldilocks zone planets and the malleability of relative spacetime. I went in expecting to watch a midwestern melodrama, and exited the theater having experienced a post-apocalyptic scifi thriller.

Not a bad turn, though. The midwestern cornfield blowing with dust turned out to be rather boring, both for us and for Matthew McConaughey who runs off to save the world in a rocketship. I’d just seen the short film Wanderers, narrated by Carl Sagan. I imagine Sagan would have approved when Cooper, McConaughey’s character, laments the state of his world:

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

The fun really starts after that, when Cooper leaves his family and the dustbowl of earth behind. And this is where the midwestern drama ends too, and we enter scifi territory. Cooper and his crew pilot through a wormhole near Jupiter to explore potentially habitable planets in a distant galaxy.

I wasn’t entirely convinced of the midwestern dustbowl world. For starters, are they driving gas-powered trucks to spite the dying world? The pseudo-science of the problems with Earth was believable enough, yet I still kept thinking, what about hydroponics?

What I did like was the scifi part of it. It was just subtle enough to be extremely enjoyable for those interested in the concepts they used, and (perhaps) intriguing to those who weren’t familiar with ideas like 5-dimensional species, wormholes, and other science fiction.

A scifi blockbuster wouldn’t be complete if love didn’t transcend time and space somehow. Christopher Nolan managed to weave that into the story rather elegantly. At the end, it all came back to family ties.

For the writers out there, if you want a lesson in writing good dialogue, you can read quotes from Interstellar on IMDB.

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