Sunday, 30 November 2014

Interstellar; should have sent the robots

The science of Interstellar doesn’t really work for me. Gravity and relativity don’t operate that way. If you’ve got enough gravity to influence the time, you’ve got enough gravity to squash you flat enough that time is the least of your worries. I’m also amazed at the way that the Ranger is single stage to orbit for four passengers plus two solid steel robots despite being smaller that the Shuttle Orbiter; if they’ve got engines that powerful, then a lot of their other problems ought to have solved themselves ages ago. But people have been ragging on Interstellar’s science since Noah stepped off the ark, so I’ll leave that to the experts.

Instead, I am going to rag on how Interstellar fails the Bechdel test so hard that it punches a hole in reality big enough for Matthew McConaughey to bring his whole family through. There are two (2) named female characters, who never actually meet or have a conversation, still less one about something other than the male cast. For the rest, it’s guys, guys, guys all the way. I nearly called this post “Stars need women”. For added fun, both the women are defined largely by being daughters; this is a movie about how fathers let their daughters down, but mean well anyhow. Anne Hathaway, the nearest thing this century has to Audrey Hepburn, gets to be Michael Caine’s daughter, which appears to be literally the only reason she gets to go on the big manly space rocket. (Mind you, the staffing appears to be a matter of whim and happenstance; Matthew McConaughey trips over the rocket and is promptly appointed pilot). Jessica Chastain gets to be Matthew McConaughey’s tomboy daughter, a character who might as well be a boy or a robot for all the gender identity she displays. And that’s it for the girls.

Not the men need to jump for joy. Caine is playing Michael Caine, and McConaughey is playing his middle aged self; when Matt Damon shows up, he’s playing a psychotic weasel, which I almost haven’t the heart to tell him is not necessarily acting. Matt is so good at psychotic weasels that you really do have to wonder. Everyone else is pretty much there to read the teleprompter; Mike, Matt and the other Matt stand out because they have enough on the ball to come across as people despite the script leaving them with nothing but their own talent to save them.

No, the stars of the movie are the robots, big featureless slabs of metal who get all the jokes in the movie and pretty much all of the matter of fact heroism without which the ostensible heroes would be high and dry with nothing to show for their efforts. The robots have their shit together and are blithely untroubled by all the crap the humans have brought into space, and they’re funny to boot. If they hadn’t had the humans holding them back, the mission would have been a glorious success.

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