8 Plot Holes in Interstellar No One Talks About

If I ask you what distinguishes Interstellar from every other space/scifi movies out there you will probably say *spoilers* astrophysics/time travel plot points.

Many people (read: geeks) argue over the finer details of time travel, traveling past the event horizon (“apparent horizon” if you are in Stephen Hawking’s camp), or the nature of wormholes. What ends up happening is they completely miss the gaping holes in the REST of the plot. It’s not as if the Nolans have to explain everything, it is scifi after all.

The plot was just sloppy and in many cases could have been patched if they just followed the advice of any competent scientists/engineers in the relevant fields.

So without further ado, here are the the 8slip-ups that should make you want to smack someone:

  1. Flawed motivation for going to space. Their crops are dying, so they need to isolate the crops from the blight. Their solution? Move humanity into space. The assumption is by living off earth, we can escape from the blight. Here’s a simpler idea: build giant greenhouses on Earth and seal it from the outside air. You keep the blight out of your crops, and you don’t have to move anyone off earth. A much more plausible scenario is a cluster of asteroids heading to earth: a hundred thousand pieces of rocks that will smash into earth in the next hundred years. Same threat, but with real motivation to move off planet.
  2. Flawed motivation for moving to a habitable planet. If humanity can live in space colonies, why bother going to another planet in another star system? Land on Mars or one of the many moons in our own solar system. Say in orbital colonies. Mine off the asteroid belt. The movie ends with humanity safe in space colonies. No interstellar colonization necessary.
  3. They found a one-way wormhole to somewhere else. How did they find out what was on the other side? No radio transmissions can report back. It’s a billion light-years away. Cooper and Brand couldn’t communicate back once through the wormhole. How did they find out about the blackhole and the planets? Radio signals would take a billion years to travel to earth.
  4. Minor gripe: Cooper’s son had to become a farmer because he wasn’t smart enough to be an engineer, and farmers are needed more. Yet Cooper’s farm was completely automated! It was all robots and all Cooper did was program them to work. What they need are not farmers but more engineers or at the very least mechanics.
  5. An hour on the water planet equals 7 years earth time. Why didn’t they just spend the few months to checkout the other planets first?
  6. Why couldn’t they survey the planet from orbit before dropping in? You just need some nice cameras and a radar. Astronauts on the International Space Station use 400mm telephoto lenses. It’s not even rocket science.
  7. Why did they need scientists at all to survey the planets if the robots were plenty intelligent already? What data did they need to gather? Atmospheric content, soil content, gravity level, day/night cycle, temperature. These are all things present-day drones can already gather! Throw in one of those minecraft bots and they should be doing more than a fragile human can ever do!
  8. Cooper came back 40+ years into the future, humanity lives in space, but Dr. Brand is still alone in her colony? Why didn’t they follow through the wormhole? Oh right they were waiting for a signal — that they couldn’t get without magic from the fifth dimensional future humans! Pretty convenient isn’t it?

Overall I enjoyed the movie even after Dr. Brand’s sappy monologue on love and how that could some how be a higher truth in the universe and the general overbearing morality of the story. The visuals were great and so was the design of the props. And it was about space and time travel! Who doesn’t love that? I just wish it wasn’t so completely obvious that the whole plot was such a thin pretext to enable time dilation and time travel.

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