Interstellar is Strange

Published at 21:21 on 17 November 2014

They apparently hired a theoretical physicist to review all the cosmology in their series, yet when it came to earthly things the special effects (and story) was so bad I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief to engage in it.

Probably the most noteworthy case in point was the dust storms. Pure cheap Hollywood special effects done by people who’ve never seen a real dust storm, or even a photograph of one. The dust was this light fluffy house-dust like stuff that looked and acted absolutely nothing like the soil dust that makes up real dust storms.

The aftermath of the storms looked particularly unrealistic, like someone emptied a bunch of vacuum cleaner bags at quasi-random. The aftermath of actual severe dust storms looks much like sand dunes, as any one of a large number of photographs from the 1930s Dust Bowl attests. The ready availability of such photographs means the producers really had no excuse for such shoddy special effects.

And what’s up with dust storms blowing up when everything is green outside? The actual Dust Bowl happened in a severe multi-year drought, when there was precious little green anything, and the fields were lying fallow instead of growing lush crops of tall corn stalks. Another epic fail.

And then there’s this “blight” which breathes nitrogen and in doing so somehow consumes oxygen. Hello? Oxygen and nitrogen are two completely different elements. Any massive outbreak of a new, nitrogen-breating organism would increase the relative concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere by consuming some of the nitrogen. So the movie flunks basic chemistry as well as basic meteorology.

How the producers could do such a terrible job on mundane aspects of science while obsessing over cutting-edge issues perplexed me for a while.

Then it hit me: it’s actually consistent with the whole strange premise of the movie, that it’s somehow going to be more easy and more practical to travel through a wormhole to the far reaches of the universe, and colonize some barren desert world (even the final scenes of that one last planet showed a pretty inhospitable place that made the Dust Bowl Earth look like a green Eden by comparison) than it would be to focus on fixing problems here at home.

It’s all about ignoring (neglecting, even) the mundane and chasing madly after the esoteric and distant.

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