Friday, November 14, 2014

Skewering Some of the Dopey Criticisms Of 'Interstellar'

I offered to my wife that it wouldn't be long before the critics sharpened their bean heads, knives and pens against the new science fiction movie, 'Interstellar' and I have been proven right. If you ever find yourself wondering why the Hollywood studios hesitate to put their billions on truly original fare as opposed to endless remakes of old films and recycled rubbish (e.g the Superman, Iron Man, Spiderman, etc. films - or sequels), there it is. They don' t want to stick their necks out to give the movie viewer new material because they might get their heads handed to them with bad reviews .....from bean heads who lack one creative bone in their sorry bodies.

Look, no one ever said 'Interstellar' was perfect, neither was '2001- A Space Odyssey'. I still recall when the knives came out in 1968 jabbering about how could an astronaut ever have stopped a super computer like HAL by essentially 'unplugging' it. Also they hated the fact the astronauts aboard that Jupiter mission ship- when they discussed disabling HAL in an escape pod-   never even thought of the possibility that their lips could be read. Hell, it was a freaking super computer, DOH! Of course it could read lips-  even if you were in a sound proof life pod - with one large circular window! But my point is that purist meat heads will always find fault, well, because they have to generate copy for their crappy sites like 'the Daily Dot'.

But this is what you get from micro-brained critics because hell, they lack the genius or creativity to create these original cinematic excursions - they can only bitch and moan about what they don't like. In that spirit, of curmudgeonly aggravation, I want to look at some of the recent criticisms especially as put forward in a piece by a Nico Lang (from the Daily Dot) entitled 'Seven Problems with Interstellar' that recently re-appeared on  (Though I will expand the list numerically for convenience because too many separate complaints were conflated in the actual piece)

I will give each of Lang's "problems"  (or my breakdown of them)  first, then my response. One of the dolt's opening remarks,  which I will dismiss just based on his source is:

"Entertainment Weekly has since devoted two different inquiries into what's going on in the film,  not because the movie is too cerebral for a general audience but because the damn thing makes no fucking sense."

Yeah, right - as if 'Entertainment Weekly' is to be taken as an ultimate fucking source on film logic. Ever heard of internal logic?  By which I mean a logic that is internally consistent within its own purview but not necessarily to some twit ensconced in the rut of "serial" or classical logic. Ever seen Apocalypse Now?  How about Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita or Amarcord or 8 1/2?  No, I don't suppose you have! But let's get into some particulars:

1) Quoting a Dylan Thomas poem ('Don't go gently into that good night' etc.) that 'Interstellar beats into the ground.

Actually it doesn't  "beat it into the ground" any more than it interjects black hole physics ("that only a baccalaureate in astrophysics can understand every 15 minutes" as another review whined about - appearing in The Financial Times. See, when you turn a minor subjective complaint (more to do with style) into exaggeration and hyperbole no one will take you seriously with your other criticisms.  (Which may have some validity such as the use of a gravimetric 'Morse code' to locate the NASA enclave).

The fact is, having seen the film, the Thomas quote is interjected only at reasonable points of specific context- and these never cross into excess. But being generous,  Lang may simply not like the words because they don't resonate with him or make sense as a Millennial - likely closer to his birth date than the opposite. The words do resonate with me, no longer wet behind the ears, so yeah, I rage against the dying of the light and also young impetuous morons who think they can take down an original film by employing mostly irrelevant or  whiny-ass,  stylistic cheap shots!

2) The Hans Zimmer movie score is like another character "demanding you pay attention to him".

Bull pockey!  The Zimmer score is totally apt and not "overpowering" except maybe to a guy too I-podded into what passes for modern rock. In fact,  it complements what is happening on screen the same as John Williams' scores with the Star Wars movies, and the music chosen by Kubrick for 2001 (think of  'Also Sprach Zaruthustra'). After watching the movie, in fact, I now want to obtain that musical score! Contrary to Nico Lang's whining, the actors are not "over matched by the production" -which let's grasp again because Lang obviously doesn't - realizes throughout that humanity's extinction is at stake! While I do agree that certain  parts of the score are "loud" - as wifey had to cover her ears in some places - I didn't find it so. Perhaps this was because the film score also served a secondary purpose - as did the film itself-  by distracting me from the family insanity surrounding my mother's death last week..

3) The dialogue is "laughable" and even Ignatiy Vishnevetsky who wrote that:

"[E]very actor is given what's essentially a thankless role, tasked with behavior and expository dialogue that ranges from impersonal to downright dumb, like the scene in which Romilly explains to Coop what a wormhole is... just as they're about to finally fly into one."

Why would Coop need an explainer about black holes if he's a genius?

Because, you fucking dope (and pardon my impatience and 'French'),  a "genius" astronaut does not equate to a genius specialist in astrophysics! Indeed, multiple times Coop is referred to as an ENGINEER in the film. An engineer is NOT the same as an astrophysicist! They take distinct specialist education paths to their crafts! (With the exception of a lot of the mathematics, e.g. differential equations, tensors.)  They examine different research  areas and approach problems differently with astrophysicists mainly via thought experiments and abstract theory. This is exactly why Mission Specialists fly along on assorted space junkets, as they did during the Space Shuttle era.  In the case of the film then, young Prof. Brand (Anne Hathaway's character) serves the role of the black hole specialist along with Bromley.

As for the dialogue, given the character backgrounds it essentially matches the circumstances and style delivered. "Dumb" then is mainly in the eye of the beholder or people like Vishnevetsky who miss the context. Let's also bear in mind we aren't watching 'Hamlet' or 'Othello' here, for god's sake. It's a movie which is trying also to reach a wide audience, and Nolan surely understands by using too sophisticated or intellectual a dialogue he may miss his target.

4) In Interstellar, nearly every actor has the Ellen Page role, clunkily explaining things to the audience ad nauseam. Need an info dump about the laws of relativity and how they affect time? Here's that five times.

Uh, no it isn't, you moron! Only an absolute fool would even  remotely believe he or she was picking up "laws of relativity" from occasional generic references via film dialogue. Jeezus Peace! Can this guy be this dumb? Really?  Is he now going to give Millennials more of a bad name like Abby Huntsman?  The interjections, many of which were suggested by black hole specialist Kip Thorne of Caltech, were designed as occasional learning on the fly reinforcements, which only peripherally touch on the actual physics. In other words, if a student in general relativity was giving these back on an exam he would likely get an F. The real relativity laws were actually on the blackboard in Brand's office - but maybe Nico expected them to be translated into dialogue or left out entirely.

5) Finish your drink when Matthew McConaughey's Cooper explains, with full Freudian overtones, that he'll be the same age as his daughter when he gets back from space.

So what? You never understood the 'twin paradox'? Wait, you've probably never taken a physics course in your life. What exactly is the beef here? That the character went into too much detail or not enough? In fact, again, leaving out the idiotic "Freudian" complaints, it was appropriate to the context at that point.

6) Christopher Nolan hasn't the slightest clue how to write adult women. A frequently cited issue with Interstellar is Anne Hathaway's character, Dr. Brand, who is willing to throw away professionalism, common sense, and years of training just to be reunited with her boyfriend on an alien planet. 

Adding to his ridiculous take, Lang then quotes another nimrod, (Alfonso Duralde) who opimes: "Nolan's women tend to be "ruled by their, you know, lady feelings, before ultimately capitulating to the men around them, even though the men aren't that stable themselves."
Total, egregious balderdash that I'd expect from the pen of a high school wannabe critic not an adult. In fact, Hathaway's Prof. Brand comes over as strong in her own right, as well as highly intelligent and competent.   As for dissing her "lady feelings" which both Duralde and Nico actually do, albeit, via the back door of attacking Nolan, let's grasp it was her "romantic" intuition sense that ultimately led to fixing attention on Edmund's planet  - the only one that could support earthly life!

Again, I also have to object to bringing in Nolan's previous work to critique this film. It is a sign of laziness not to mention enabling cheap shots as Duralde delivers.

7) Nearly every character is wasted.
This again is a common movie critic whine, as the lesser ones all seem to expect all actors to have nearly equal screen time, or importance via portrayal. But in a film of this magnitude  - in terms of the content- it is simply impossible to make work. Hence certain characters like Coop's farmer son Tom and astronaut Bentley have lesser roles. And bear in mind we still don't know how much film hit the cutting room floor during the editing  -and films always need fearsome editing.  So I guess Lang and his compatriots would like to see the unedited version. Well, wait for the special features when the DVD comes out, as I will. I will warrant you will see many more minutes of both characters.

One more point, it was logical that at least one of them (Bentley) would be killed on "Miller's planet", given the hazards faced including a half mile tidal wave that nearly wrecked the ship. To have no one perish would have made the film more fantasy than reality. Thus Lang needs to grow up and adjust his puerile perceptions and expectations.

8) This future NASA also exists in a universe where we have no armies (a great idea with all this food rioting going on) and the public has turned against space travel. As Mean Anti-Science Principal's associate explains, textbooks were re-written to state that the Apollo missions were faked (as a way to bankrupt the Russians or whatever), meaning that NASA has been defunded. Where then are they getting the billions of taxpayer dollars necessary to bankroll a trip that would be this ungodly expensive? 

Jeezus Christ, has this nitwit never heard of black budgets?  Must we explain everything to him, as I had to explain to another nincompoop, Marilyn Elias, who wrote about the JFK assassination for the SPLC yet never heard of "Operation Mockingbird"?  Black budgets are often used and that means spending off the books, not officially reported anywhere - such as the $25 billion  black budget that we learned about (from Project Censored) to fund the spooks after 9/11.   In the case of 'Interstellar' it makes sense that whatever the national gov't, if it regarded humanity's survival as a security issue, then black budgets would be implemented to fund a program like "Lazarus".

But to a mundane, poorly read bozo like Nico it's no wonder he never heard of them, leaving his imagination bereft of accounting for how such a trip could be bankrolled given the conditions depicted in the film. (Also, Nico, you the viewer can't expect to be spoon fed everything!)

9) It might be the first movie in history whose plot hole is an actual hole. As Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd points out, Interstellar is riddled with inconsistencies, like why NASA doesn't send robots into space to explore the three possible planets. Nolan's script dismisses the idea based on the silly argument that robots "can't improvise" but they also won't lure NASA into a 30-minute long death trap

Jeebus! Entertainment Weekly again! This bellyache reminds me of the one making the rounds after 2001 came out, which included dopey questions like: "Why didn't they send robots to the Moon to investigate the alien artifact instead of putting human at risk?" And: "Why didn't they send a large robot craft to Jupiter to investigate the signals instead of a human crew that was at risk on account of HAL?"

Because it's a freaking MOVIE  and Nolan knew the audience would have more skin vicariously  invested with HUMAN participation as opposed to fucking robots! Must everything be explained? Let's also bear in mind the "30 minute death trap" was resolved with the best possible solution for all at the end - so I've no idea what this numb nut's main problem is.

10) Why would an advanced alien race create the wormhole near Saturn instead of near Earth?

Well, if you'd have read the relevant pages (587-88) in Kip S. Thorne's 'Black Holes and Time Warps', you'd have learned why it was wise to keep it near Saturn. Referring to his wormhole calculations, where the idealized entity is a sphere in 3 dimensions and "circular in cross section" with one dimension suppressed, he also notes that the wormhole would be unstable and only an "infinitely advanced civilization" might be able to keep it open, e.g. by employing an "averaged negative density" - i.e. threading it using a light beam - with the light beam defocussed via negative energy. (A light beam can have positive energy from the light beam's reference frame and negative energy from the wormhole's reference frame.)

Given that the aliens presumed to be part of the movie weren't in any way "infinitely advanced" - i.e. they didn't know which planets were ab initio best suited for human habitation - it was left to humans to work that out - it was therefore a good bet that the wormhole would not be indefinitely stable - or open - over time,  and hence its location near Saturn was logical. One would assuredly not want an unstable wormhole near Earth!

11) Nolan concocts a literal deus ex machina to get him out of the story's black hole, but it doesn't make the movie make any more sense. If only there were Benevolent All-Seeing Future Humans who could have traveled through time to help fix this movie instead.

And how about you stick to Disney fare before you attempt to critique a movie like this again? 

If only someone could have traveled back in time then, before Nico Lang put his pen to paper to come up with such a farrago of bullshit that he tries to pass off as a critical review.

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