Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



Less than stellar, I’m sorry to say. I went so far as to see this one in the theater, something I’m doing less and less as time goes by, both because of the high prices and because it’s getting hard for me to sit still in a theater for a film as long as this.

And that was one of the problems. I thought it was way too long. They could easily have cut twenty minutes, maybe as much as thirty. I will admit, this is possibly an “old man” complaint, because my arthritis makes me uncomfortable after sitting two hours. So I’ll add two more of them. The music was just awful. Hans Zimmer, you assaulted my ears entirely too much. It was relentlessly minimalist, like Philip Glass but even less so, the same brief sequences of notes repeated over and over, increasing in volume, and increasing … so, second complaint, the old man thought it got entirely TOO LOUD. And I’m a guy who likes to turn up the volume.

The human story was only so-so. I never really connected with the Matthew McC character, nor the Ann Hathaway one, and I tend to like both of those actors. Jessica Chastain was the only one I cared about.

Visually, I have to hand it to them. It was a knockout. The singularity was apparently designed with many, many hours of supercomputer time to mimic our best guess as to what one would actually look like. Ditto the “wormhole,” which is something that may or may not even exist. Probably not, in my opinion, but that’s okay. It’s a good story device. Also, very much, the time tesseract at the end. I’ve never seen a better depiction of what the fourth or fifth dimension might look like.

So then we come to the scientific accuracy of the movie. Since the makers made a big deal of getting the relativity and quantum mechanics right (up to a point), it’s fair to take them to task when they got something wrong. Neil deGrasse Tyson and others have picked apart some of the small stuff, which I won’t bother with. Nor will I bother too much with plot questions, such as why did all the planets they were exploring happen to be so near to the giant black hole, and all so uninhabitable. I assume the monstrous wave on the knee-deep water planet was caused by the extreme tides near the hole, though I wonder why nothing else was affected. The tidal forces would be enormous, and Larry Niven and Arthur C. Clarke both wrote stories dealing with the catastrophic effects they could have.

The biggest boner, in my opinion (and others have agreed with me), was the ice clouds on the frozen planet. What the hell was holding them up there? Nothing but the screenwriters’ imagination, I suspect. Ice is heavy, my friends. I can’t imagine an atmosphere thick enough to support them except on a gas giant planet like Jupiter, where there might be ice clouds, but made of methane, and no surface beneath them.

Then there is the question of the time difference between the space station, where the black astronaut stayed, and the surface of the water world. Seven years pass up there for every hour on the surface? But it wasn’t that far away, it seemed to me. Sure, time could pass very slowly as you got closer to the singularity, I guess, due to something called frame dragging, where space itself is distorted to an unimaginable degree …

… and here I admit that my knowledge of relativity falls far short of having any really informed opinion. It just seemed wrong to me. But I would be really grateful if someone who can handle the math would explain it to me in layman’s terms. Please! Anyone?

Summing up: I’m glad I saw it, and on the big screen. But it simply did not live up to my expectations.