Seventeen Questions I Have Immediately After Seeing Interstellar


At long last, I finally saw Interstellar, my opening-night dreams being long delayed by unforeseen events. I am as much of a Nolan fanboy as you can get, and count everything from Memento to The Prestige to Inception to the entire Dark Knight Trilogy among my favorite movies. And now Nolan was heading to SPACE? Are you KIDDING? It was like a dream come true.

So, perhaps expectations were too high, but I left Interstellar feeling a bit underwhelmed. Though there are very, very good elements to the film, the movie seemed jerky and poorly paced, and like it was clunkier than it needed to be at nearly three hours long. The performances were great, the visuals were cool and the concept was solid, but Insterstellar constantly felt like a movie that was getting lost in its own narrative, and had a hard time feeling like it ever really flowed.

Nolan’s movies will usually leave you puzzling out a few things, and creating complex, layered mysteries is kind of his thing. But Interstellar made my brain hurt in a bad way, and I kept asking myself why certain things were happening as the film unfolded. Not in a fun “what’s the mystery” kind of way, but in a “how does this make sense at all” kind of way.

In the end,  I just can’t say that Interstellar unseats any of my other favorite space-based films from Sunshine to Moon to Gravity to Contact. It’s just missing something in my eyes, and though I know lots of people are raving about it, by the end I just couldn’t see it as a classic.

Here are sixteen (plus) questions that flooded through my mind once I stopped and thought about everything I just saw after the film ended. Obvious spoilers follow so only read if you watched. Perhaps some of this is just me being dumb, but I just thought the movie did a poor job of explaining itself a lot of the time. But of course I welcome differing opinions. Alright, I am literally sitting down to right this like twenty minutes after the movie ended so I don’t forget anything.


1. How does food just suddenly stop growing? Just a big drought? Was it the “blight” they kept mentioning? What was that?

2. Why did people think leaving the planet entirely was easier than fixing whatever the hell was wrong with the planet? Had they even so much as landed on Mars yet?

3. What was the central gravity problem Michael Caine was trying to solve? How to get the centrifuge station to take off and go fly away to be in space?

4. How do you bullshit research on a gravity formula day in and day out for forty years with literally no one on your science team noticing?

5. How were they standing on water on the first planet? Was there just like a really big sandbar in the middle of an eternal ocean or is the ocean like a foot and a half deep?

6. Why did Matt Damon’s little encampment explode? Because the guy accessed secret data in the dead robot? What if the guy had accessed that data while Matt Damon was still in there?

7. Was that entire planet made of clouds? How do solid ice clouds float?

8. Why did Matt Damon, skilled leader of the entire expedition, think he could get into the orbiter without a locked seal after docking? It’s like the trained biologist in Prometheus who tries to pet the Xenomorph snake thing which, surprise, kills him.

9. Do the “future humans” who help Matthew McConaughey live in the black hole? How does him entering the black hole trigger the entire process of the future fifth dimension civilization helping him?

10. How does this civilization exist at all in order to spark its own existence without the entire idea being lost in some recursive chicken vs. egg time loop?

11. How can the entire secret to harnessing gravity as the ultimate end-all, be-all source of power in the universe be effectively translated into morse code? What is “Quantum Data” that can only be gleaned from the prostate of a black hole anyway?

12. Why doesn’t Matthew McConaughey spell out “this is your dad” in morse code too? It would haven taken like three seconds.

13. How does Jessica Chastain suddenly figure out he the “ghost” IS her dad without him doing this?

14. Why is Casey Affleck so chill about his sister burning down his entire crop when had just punched Topher Grace for giving his family a physical exam?

15. So fixing the “gravity problem” allowed them to build bigger centrifugal space stations? How many are there? How big are they? Who decided who got to actually leave earth?

16. Why are they all just hanging out by Saturn? If they knew about Anne Hathaway and all the other possible habitable planets, why didn’t they go find her? Don’t they have an entire fleet of spaceships now to go places in the other galaxy?

17. Why would you end the movie with Matthew McConaughey not landing his ship on planet Hathaway? The movie ends with a shot of her thinking he’s dead and the entire earth is dead!

Bonus: Why was the sound and picture quality in the IMAX version the worst I’ve ever heard/seen? The dialogue during loud musical parts was almost impossible to hear, and zoomed in face shots were almost always blurry.

Yeah, answers are welcome, but this movie was the bad kind of puzzling to me, even if it had moments that worked well throughout.

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  1. I’m guessing I’m not going to see Interstellar now because I’ve yet to read anything from anyone (that I value their opinions from) that makes me want to see this at all, much less in the theater.

    I keep hearing a lot of the same questions and frankly, I’m starting to think that Nolan needs to be kicked from his high horse. Maybe that will let him know that we expect movies to be well told and not just some philosophical nonsense that only makes sense in his brain.

    I’m all for discussing movies well after I’ve seen it, but from what I gather, this one is not worth discussing. Which is too bad, because it showed so much promise.

    1. That’s an incredible amount of vitriol for a movie you haven’t seen. While the movie itself is not perfect, you have to appreciate it’s ambition. While it delves in areas of science that are just speculation at this point, it at least does so in a way that has impressed actual scientists in the field. To just dismiss the movie as a whole as philosophical nonsense makes me wonder if you also thought Kubrick needed to be kicked off his high horse when he made 2001.

      1. I’m basing my current view on the movie solely on other’s perspectives. As was this comment I supplied more in tune as a response to Paul’s post.

        This in no way reflects that I can’t change my opinion on it once I’ve seen it. I’m free to judge what I want as I want to.

        I would have never kicked Kubrick off any horse because he never tried to sell his movies as something that they weren’t. 2001 was marketed completely different than how Interstellar was. Interstellar’s marketing and advertising lead most viewers to believe that they were in for a fantastic space voyage that would wow and excite them as the director of the “Dark Knight and Inception” had done previously. I think that’s where the kickback is coming from … I think people felt that they were duped into seeing something that they didn’t initially sign up for.

  2. Here’s my take on most of these questions (after one
    viewing, I imagine if I paid a bit more attention it would work better):

    1. I imagine the blight was some sort of crop disease that had evolved to the point that scientists (which were already few due to the emphasis on food growing rather than scientific advancement) could
    no longer engineer crops that could resist it.

    2. Same as above, resources were too far gone, resistant crop disease that they no longer had the ability to counter. I think they maybe made it to Mars before the public turn against space travel.

    3. The problem was how to counteract the forces of gravity so that a space station large enough to house the human population could achieve escape velocity.

    4. The population has dwindled and the focus is on farming now as opposed to science, Brand was likely one of the only physicists left on the planet so if you didn’t understand physics people probably took him at his word.

    5. The first planet had an eternal ocean that was only a couple feet deep, the gigantic waves were caused by the extreme gravitational forces created by Gargantua.

    6. I assumed it was just because the robot had been damaged, but your guess is as good as mine.

    7. The planet was probably like a gas planet like Jupiter. Frozen clouds can float as long as their density is less than the density of the surrounding atmosphere. I know Mann said what the atmosphere consisted of, but I don’t remember. My guess is that the science works out.

    8. No idea.

    9. I don’t think they live in the black hole. My guess would be that since time theoretically stands still near a singularity, it would be the only place that they could construct time as a physical dimension for him to travel between points.

    10. General time travel paradox. Multiverse?

    11. The quantum data is how particles behave in an area where the laws of physics break down (relativity and the like). Murph talks about it with Brand when she realizes that he only has half the equation. My guess is the data is very long, but being a movie they only show a quick clip of Murph translating to Morse.

    12. He doesn’t have enough books on the bookcase in the order that lets him push out “This is your dad”?

    13. Love?

    14. Dunno, the odd reaction that she gives him when he comes back?

    15. I think the original ship they were building was the only one and was huge. Also, I think it was said that the Earth’s population had dwindled to endangered species levels, so I don’t think they really had to choose.

    16. Probably lack of fuel necessary to move the whole population, stable orbit. Lack of well-trained pilots? Dunno.

    17. Artistic license

    Bonus: Isolated incident? I noticed nothing off about picture or sound when I saw it.

    I think the movie will probably become clearer once I read Kip Thorne’s book about the science of the movie, but it really shouldn’t be necessary that you read a book to understand a movie. Once I finish the book, I’ll probably update these answers.

  3. First, Thanks!!
    First list of questions that is not completely stupid!! People are complaining but they sounds like never watched the movie!!

    I will try to answer some… but I do not have time now.. let me just say something about one or two of those:
    11 – We do not know how to put together relativity and quantum mechanics… the robot was sending DATA from inside a black hole, stuff we never see before. It was not a formula.. it was data. Inside the horizon time and space change signal… causality breaks… this makes no sense. The movie just imply that if we could understand what happens inside this would give us the chance to unify physics…

    12 – No matter how long it would take for him to spell “I’m you Dad” in fact he did had the entire time in the Universe to do that.. all the “we’re running out of time” tension in that part of the movie is fake! He can move through time as a dimension, back and forth… The point is that HE DIDN’T MADE THAT IN THE PAST! All Coop knew is that he said “stay” and gave the Nasa coordinates.. he repeated what happened… yes he could have said “I’m your Dad” during the morse code data stuff… but he KNEW THAT SHE WOULD FIGURE OUT THAT WAS HIM.. is was just in the next panel in the future…. This make sense?

  4. You’re hung up on plot points in this movie but you say it can’t hold a candle to Sunshine or Contact? I’d say Interstellar is pretty much right there with them…

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