11 December 2014

Interstellar holes. Yes. There are a lot more than one.

Interstellar is a visually gripping and gorgeous film. Every geek should visit the theatre to watch it. Maybe twice. However, I recommend being an hour late. See .. It is also so self-absorbed that the truly interesting stuff does not happen until nearly a standard movie length has passed by. I also might recommend bringing some noise cancelling headphones so you can miss plot holes so big that they are the largest hole in the film. Yes - there are some spoilers below, but none as big of a spoiler as the film itself.

McConaughey's character, Cooper, is leaving the corpse of Earth on an old rocket ship that appears to have been left over from a scrapped 1969 Apollo launch. When it reaches our lower atmosphere they exit the rocket on a small ship that docks with a deep space tanker orbiting our planet in anticipation of this moment. So far so good.

The first major issue (beyond the fact that this is 90 minutes of plot shrunk into a 7 day movie) is that Cooper and his crew need to manually connect their ship to the tanker because the computer is not capable of it. Okay, so technology has not advanced much, right? Except they have fully artificially aware robots that are joining them on this journey who are human enough to have a sense of humor and, weirdly, also have better acting skills than anyone else in the movie. So why do they need to manually dock with this thing? Oh, because they need it as a plot point later.

When they reach the glass sphere of worms loitering around Saturn they send their little ship with all the power they need into the light and end up in another solar system. Cool. Sure, they had to play fast and loose with a ridiculously gargantuan black holes surrounded by the perfect supernova so they would actually be able to stop and explain the time dilation, but they want this sucker to be scientifically accurate and they got there. Except they didn't.

See ... They land on a planet that has 1.4 times the gravity of Earth. On their little ship. The ship that did not have enough power to make it to Saturn all by itself. A ship that could not escape Earth velocity without a massive Apollo rocket ship behind it. And yet this little bucket of bolts somehow has the power to escape not just two planets, but one that has more gravity than Earth, and do a little loopity-loop around a black hole? Apparently Earth power is hundreds of times more powerful in this new solar system.

Speaking of this lovely new paradise: Why are we spending so much of Earth resources trying to move us to a new solar system around a volatile part of the universe (black holes have a nasty habit of dragging in new solar tenants on a daily basis) when the planets they are considering are all far less hospitable than the ones near Earth? Or, an even better question might be why did future Earthlings spend so much time developing black worm hole defying geekness that can talk back in time when they could have just told us to go live on Mars?

(And did anyone ever ponder the causation loop issue that Earth could never have found this other solar system to send ourselves to because we would have died off since there was no future Earthling to send us to this new solar system? Yes, this stuff does get confusing but that is why astrophysicists stay away from the future directly impacting the past because, well, it can't.)

Anyway ... So Cooper and company has nothing better to do but fly around the accretion disc of the dark circle thingy so that they have energy to try to get to the third planet, all while he gives up his life by dropping through the event horizon into the black hole. While we do not know much about these invisible points of nothingness, what we do know is that it is so unmeasurably hot that it turns matter into a glowing mass of plasma that is shot at near light speed into the cosmos. But, sure - his space ship from Earth can handle that, even though another similar space ship turned into confetti over a minor airlock incident. The other one must have been made in China or something.

I am going to ignore the other dozen black hole issues since we have yet to visit one and we can give them the benefit of the doubt that Einstein was wrong. So after the Cooper Family holiday in the hole, he returns to his daughter and family all those decades later (time dilation - he is still a young dude) he finds his daughter is on a comfy death bed and everyone else just pretends he does not exist. Apparently caring in any way about your own family, let alone the man who saved humanity, is a lost art in the future. Totally get it. If George Washington were to suddenly show up today we would make him move to another country, too.

Which is what Cooper decides to do. Why not? He has a hot babe waiting for him around that black hole. Writers of this script decide to ignore the time dilation issues and create a way for him to get his woman. Unfortunately, they forgot that he has been gone from Earth's solar system for over seventy years and in that time they have developed this amazing technology to allow them to create mini Earth environments in space - and yet human security systems and space ships are still easy enough that a 120 year old guy can steal one and fly it away without a single person noticing. This is the same way a Japanese Zero pilot could totally steal and fly away with a B2 Stealth Bomber. Totally.