Chris Nolan's "Interstellar" as Half-Baked Cli-Fi, or What Does Matthew McConaughey Eat in Outer Space? Pretzel Ions?

So I must first confess I’ve never been seduced by the eye-candy of Christopher Nolan’s films: Yes, they’re imaginative, clever, outlandish and topical. I’m all for that. But at some point they tend to turn so “Hollywood” that you have to throw your brain into the wastebasket and just go with it. My students (Millenials, go figure!) loved Inception (2010), but I found my patience growing thin about, say, a half hour into the film. Which is all to say I wasn’t overly eager to see Interstellar (2104), even though I’m a sucker for a good scifi film, and even more so if there are aliens in it—a category Interstellar does and doesn’t fit. Yes, there are “unseen” aliens afoot, but unseen is close to out-of-sight, out-of-mind. They might be the same aliens in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012), for all we know—except in Prometheus, they are seen, kind of.
My curiosity finally got the best of me (a condition that has happened many times before, often with decidedly mixed results) and I watched Interstellar. The first part had its charms: the dust storms plaguing the nameless Midwest (Iowa?) or Great Plains (Kansas? which Easterners think is Midwest, but not really) locale are like the dust storms in my novel The Bird Saviors (2012), charmingly identified/pigeon-holed as “CliFi” (Climate Fiction) by some critics. So, yes, I was feeling a bit simpatico at that moment. Suffice to say all Nolan’s credibility wore off right about the time Matt Damon improbably pushed Matthew McConaughey down a glacial slope of some unnamed planet in another galaxy. At that point the film took a Hollywood turn about as logical as the dream-theft in Inception. And it kept going and going. One minute McConaughey is looking at a black hole that is probably quite a distance away and then he shoots off and moments later he ejects to float around in said black hole, without even so much as a scratch. Meanwhile I’m thinking, What is he eating up there in space? Those little Kraft cheese-and-crackers things for astronauts? Gallons of Tang? Pretzel ions? Anne Hathaway’s black bangs?
Speaking of which: Is Anne Hathaway the least-convincing astronaut ever? I liked her as the White Queen in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (2010). As an astronaut, not so much. Maybe Jennifer Jason Leigh would be better—sarcastic and insecure, like all astronauts, right? (Well, not really.) Who might be better, you ask? I don’t know. Someone not so pretty-in-plastic? Personally I think Matthew McConaughey’s role (“Coop,” who growled and breathed heavily through most of his lines) should have gone to John C. Reilly, and maybe Kristen Wiig could have played Brand, Hathaway’s pretty-but-unconvincing astronaut. At least we’d get some laughs from it, right?

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