Home > feminism, reviews > Interstellar – sexist, poorly made, though at least got to lol bad at its climax (SPOILERS)

Interstellar – sexist, poorly made, though at least got to lol bad at its climax (SPOILERS)

The hero of the movie, and its human supporting actor

The hero of the movie, and its human supporting actor

First spoiler – the people that from the start you think are going to get killed, do get killed, in the order that you think they will. Or at least that’s how it worked out for my flatmates and I. ymmv – I guess depending on how much credibility you give the film makers to start with.

The human characters were so unsympathetic and one dimensional caricatures that I didn’t care if they lived or not. Scratch that, at times I just wanted the whole sorry thing over so much I wanted them to just get on and die!

And the sexism. Omg, what was up with Brand (Anne Hathaway’s character)? What was even the point in her? Apart from to fuck up missions and to look up at Cooper with big adoring eyes and look after the embryos (coz obv that’s what chicks are good for, especially ones that have doctorates and are astronauts…) And not forgetting letting her emotions get in the way of her scientific reasoning. Thank goodness alpha male Cooper was there to put her right on track and rescue her (repeatedly)!

TARS being awesome

TARS being awesome

There was one redeeming character – I speak of course of the robot TARS. It alone brought my rating up from 1/10 to 3/10 I liked its physical manifestations, the humour and it almost brought in an interesting question regarding AIs as slaves, except that the film makers fluffed that at the last minute and anyway Star Trek did that better.

The climactic scenes showing the split with Murphy on earth and Cooper and gang were so terrible that I did manage to find humour in them. Like, the fire?! Yeah throw on some tension and maybe the audience will be so overwhelmed that they don’t notice how bad these scenes are? But even then, there was still nothing that exciting with the fire. The brother – does he have any emotional depth or feeling? Again – what is the point of him? And suddenly, inexplicably he’s hugging and trusting his sister and long gone father, just as the farm he’s poured so much effort into is up in flames and an uncertain future is facing his severely ill wife and surviving child?

But Cooper. Like a cowboy from an outdated Western, he’s a comic book hero. Of course he can do these crazy feats of flight, and save everyone repeatedly, and then sacrifice himself for the chick who cries tears as she finally realised she was supposed to be his all along, because he’s the alpha male, goddammit. Even the robot recognised Coop’s authority early on, and hence was addressing all its “FYI we’re about to crash” at him.

And Mann. I have to admit, that whole rolling around on the ice was another lol moment for me. Particularly the weird monologue he has with himself as he watches what he assumes is Coop’s death roll. I don’t think even the actor knew what he was supposed to do with that terrible dialogue, and so just deadpans it. But of course our Coop, partially blinded by the ammonia in the atmosphere from his cracked visor (whereas Mann’s was completely unscathed despite repeated cracks of glass on glass), found that his transmitter that Mann had thrown out onto the ice, was conveniently close by!

And Mann woke up from being in cryo in what, 5 seconds! I liked his reactions early on though. That was one of the few bits that had realism. Until they decided to comic book villain him, and then kill him off without Coop having to dirty his hands or make difficult decisions. TARS to the rescue again. Not sure what happened at that point to the preceding rules which seemed to be that humans could always override robot instructions… but then if we’re counting plot inconsistencies, we’ll be here a lot longer.

Murphy was, I suppose, meant to balance out Brand’s awfulness. Maybe if we’d had a bit more from her, if she’d shone in the film, apart from just it being commented on that she’d been super smart and solved the gravity equation, I’d have felt a bit more engaged by that bit of the narrative. It just felt a bit like it had been tacked on to justify the alpha male cowboy story tbh. She was mostly just onscreen to (quite rightly) bemoan that her sole remaining parent was abandoning her. And to be assistant to Michael Caine’s professor. Tagging on that suddenly she’d solved physics, but not giving us any exposure to that beyond fade shots of her at a blackboard backgrounded that whole arc, and so lost out on an opportunity to show the *only other female character in the whole blooming movie* being the true hero who saved humanity. She was edited down to nothing. Yes, of course it failed the Bechdel test – and no, I’m not going to count Murphy informing Brand her father had died – again, that seemed mostly because the female characters were burdened with all the emotional work. And that Murphy, though apparently being a genius physicist, even after at least a decade of being Caine’s assistant, hadn’t cottoned on that he’d already solved the equation and was bluffing.

I liked the worm hole being a sphere. And that bit was kinda pretty. I guess I’ll end on that positive. I wasn’t expecting a world altering movie, but I was expecting it to look nice and have decent special effects. I was mostly disappointed with that, but the worm hole bit was ok on those fronts. And TARS again. TARS was super cool.

3/10 – and most of that’s for the robot.

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  1. November 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm
  2. earwigmc
    November 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

    heheh, i enjoyed that :) not that the film was rubbish and you struggled to find pleasure in it… but i enjoyed your comment/critique on/of it.
    wrt star trek did it better wrt AI autonomy and slavery… have you read ‘Body of Glass’ by Marge Piercy? if not, i’d recomend.

    • November 24, 2014 at 10:18 am

      I’ll look it out, cheers :)

      Glad you enjoyed my rant. I quite enjoyed writing it :)

  3. christoph
    February 27, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Normally I’m the type to respectfully disagree if I find I don’t agree with something. I have to say though, this is just a bad review written by someone who clearly wasn’t aware of many of the plot points. To itemize a few of my gripes:

    1. You say the characters are unemotional. I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about here. I suppose they are rather flat when compared to the overacting that is Disney and Pixar?

    2. I didn’t REALLY see the deaths coming. I think everyone expects it to some degree in this sort of movie, but it was well done. Myself, and other viewers I know certainly felt the emotion portrayed: “godDAMNIT we lost another one! DAMNIT!”

    3. Sexism? literally every intelligent character other than the old professor is female. perhaps the movie is a little chauvinistic? (I’m joking, stop calling everything in the world sexist or racist) Brand was in charge of the “population bomb” because that is what her education was most useful for in that mission. With that in mind SHE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEMBER OF THE TEAM!!!!!

    4. yea, ok, I agree, TARs was awesome. The most functional and realistic design for a “robot” I have ever seen in Hollywood. (other than non-corporeal AI which is pretty much god mode (Skynet.))

    5. Mann was portrayed perfectly. That’s all I have to say about that. The performance was perfect.

    6. It’s not that humans can override any computer, its that they can override their two robots. This rule NEVER included ships systems, so to say this is a plot hole means you didn’t pay attention.

    7. You talk about Cooper like a “Mary Sue” character. This is SOO not the case. Cooper is f*cking up during the whole movie. He makes the wrong call time after time, and as it turns out Brand was right all along about where they should go (sexist? jk.) Cooper is the leader because he outranks the other members and is the pilot. If you paid attention to the first half of the movie you would know this. He is the only one with real experience flying the Ranger, which is why he is the one pulling bad ass moves. HE’S TRAINED TO DO THAT, THAT’S HIS CHARACTER, THAT’S THE WHOLE REASON HE IS ON THE SHIP, IF HE WASN’T TRAINED DO THAT, HE WOULDN’T BE THERE.

    8. Coming back to Mann. Mann was NOT a comic book villain. he was a desperate man who was half-mad from years of isolation. he wanted to go home, and didn’t care what he had to do to make it happen. In his desperation he killed himself, and f*cked over the crew. That’s some real sh*t, bro.

    9. UH…. did you fall asleep for all but the very first scene grown-up Murphy was in? I won’t even comment on that until you watch the movie again. (with your eyes this time)

    10. Interstellar passes the Bechdel test.

    11. I won’t pretend to know much about the actual math behind the manipulation of gravity, but I can tell you that the whole “I didn’t know there another piece to these maths” part is very plausible.

    12. AND obviously they won’t show the actual equation for various reasons (I feel I don’t need to explain this point.)

    13. Wormhole and black-hole were modeled after the real thing. Science doesn’t care if you think it looks good or bad, and on those particular effects, neither did Mr. Nolan I think.

    I skipped alot of points. I also have a lot to say about the relativity plot points, the gravity through time and such, but I’m at work and shouldn’t be typing any of this right now.

    in conclusion: Dear Author, go back to watching Rush Hour 2

  4. March 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I loved your review. I found this film completely ridiculous, cliched and boring. In fact I struggled to sit through it. And I am saying it not as a feminist. Even if I don’t put on my feminist glasses, I still think its highly overrated. My theory is nobody got what’s so great about the film yet everybody saying great things just because its a Christopher Nolan film with Oscar winning actors and all. I read up many of the 10/10 rated reviews on IMDB, most people can’t articulate what is so great about it.

    Except for the visual effects, which has now become part of every other Hollywood film, what was in it? Besides the fact that it has no real story or thoughts or emotions that I could relate to or feel, I couldn’t stand the stereotypes and cliched symbolism. I mean few centuries have passed since 21st century but the image of women has not changed.
    She may be a NASA scientists but she is still hyper emotional getting crazy in the middle of her work and getting herself in trouble and needs to be saved by Alpha male robots at that. What to talk of symbolism, she’s picked up by the robot in exactly the same way as Disney’s damsels in distress are being picked up for past thousands of centuries. Centuries later, women are still talking highly of the power of love and men are still being dismissive and objective. She is still exploring father-daughter relationships – the masculine feminine binaries and heteronormativity. The saviour of the mankind is still a white heterosexual man and the black man is a token gesture. Every time I heard the words ‘Daddy would save us’ I cringed, and it was said a lot of times.

    With massive shift in space and time, changes happen in our culture too. But centuries from now, with a 5th dimension added to our existence, America would still be playing base ball (even in space) and drinking beer. That is all they could imagine. And hilariously the film ends with Biblical symbolism of Adam and Eve inhabiting a new planet and giving birth to a new humankind.

    I found it pretentious, and consisting of same old trappings of any other Hollywood drama. I guess I was expecting much more than just visual effects, I was expecting more meaningful substance in terms of imagination of a world that is so beyond our perception. When you sit down to imagine time and space thousands of years from now, you would probably imagine everything differently, human behaviour, relationships, culture, society…everything. For me its not enough to simply imagine 5th dimensions, wormholes and tangible time boxes.

    Awful film. And I am not even talking of scientific accuracy.

  5. July 26, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Glad I’m not the only one who noticed this. If you replaced Hathaway’s character with a male and kept the lines the same everyone would be pissed that Cooper worked so hard to save a habitual fuck up but since she is a woman we are supposed to feel sympathy for her lack of skills. Specifically thinking of the scene where she is trapped under the equipment and the wave is coming where her Doyle dies.

  6. A.W.
    March 22, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    NO! It does not pass the Bechdel Test with that scene mentioned in the Review! It calls for two female characters to have a Discussion that is not about a man, or their feelings about a man. How on earth can the scene where one female character informs another through a taped video that her Father is dead, actually pass that test?

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