4 Signs Christopher Nolan's Next Film Will Be Goddamn Crazy
Christopher Nolan is no stranger to gritty, psychologically dense thrillers like Inception, Memento, and Doodlebug. After smearing the Batman franchise with cheap eyeliner and a tattered Hot Topic hoodie, Nolan searched for a new setting for cinematic mindfucks. But where to go? Why, outer-goddamn-space, of course! Nolan's upcoming film, Interstellar, is a movie about "the most exotic events in the universe suddenly becoming accessible to humans," which, judging by the leaked script (or script summary, if you're lazy), might be Nolan's most unhinged work yet.
Also, spoilers. Duh.
It's Every Sci-Fi Plotline Rolled into One
According to the script, the movie starts pleasantly enough, with all of humanity on the verge of extinction due to war and widespread famine. Almost all animal and plant life has been decimated, with the exception of corn (because even in the apocalypse, the corn lobby has deep pockets).
Our protagonist, Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, is a hobo/engineer who finds a crash-landed space probe in a cornfield, which he returns to NASA in another cornfield. (Again, the whole Earth is cornfields.) Instead of asking how the fuck anyone has the resources to fund a space program, Cooper investigates what the probe is for and discovers that NASA has been searching for a new planet to populate and appears to have found one. They send a team to explore the planet (which includes a wise-cracking robot and Cooper, because he happened to be standing there), and the spacecraft dives through a wormhole, meets a race of "gravity beings," nearly gets sucked into a black hole, and then crash lands on Hoth II to discover that there's already a human settlement there and it's full of dead Chinese astronauts.
Here's where it gets a little weird.
"My God ... all of Earth has really been dead and Chinese all along."
The gang finds that the Chinese had sent a crew to the planet, which was wiped out by radiation from a nearby star. Realizing that the sun is about to rise and that they only have SPF 15 with them, they seek shelter in a cave covered by a special life form that absorbs the deadly radiation. The cave is also occupied by evil Chinese robots, who take the crew hostage and explain that the planet is going to be destroyed by another hitherto unknown black hole. The crew battles the robots and escapes with a gravity ray the Chinese had built with the intent of using it, somehow, to save humanity.
But wait! It turns out that while they were zipping around the black holes, relativity fucked them up, and 50 years has passed on Earth. They decide to return to Earth anyway and see if they managed to figure out that whole extinction thing.
"Oh, yeah. That was our thing, wasn't it?"
But wait! The Chinese robot villains sabotaged the ship, making it impossible to get home. After escaping another frigging black hole and slipping through another wormhole (during which the gravity beings show up again and another 250 years pass), they wind up on a Chinese space station that has been built over a period of 4,000 years and is a gateway to all sorts of locations in space-time, including going back to Earth just before the mission was launched. Cooper decides to return to Earth.
BUT WAIT! Cooper discovers that the ship is carrying the probe ... the same probe from the beginning of the movie! Realizing that the probe is the only thing that survives the black hole, he uploads the plans for the gravity gun to the probe in the hopes that someone will be able to build it and save Earth, possibly setting up the events of Contact. He then punches out and watches as the ship is destroyed and the probe makes its way toward Earth.
"I taped a picture of Jodie Foster with a 'no' sign over it as a warning."
BUT WAIT!!! Cooper goes through a different bloody wormhole and lands on his present-day Earth, which has turned into a barren tundra. Deducing that his gravity gun plans must not have worked, he releases the radiation-absorbing life form from the cave and realizes that the gravity beings were not trying to save humans at the expense of radioactive moss, but the other way around. Accepting his fate, he finds a quiet place to curl up and die.
BUT WAIT!?! Cooper then wakes up in a hospital and meets his great-great-grandson (who is 80), who explains that Cooper's kids did build the gravity gun and use it to send everyone into space, ensuring humanity's survival. He is invited to work on a farm, but decides to explore the universe instead.
Holy Christ, that's exhausting just reading it.
It's Only Going to Get Worse
Nolan wasn't even the original director of Interstellar. The script was written in 2007 by Nolan's brother Jonathan, but it was initially Steven Spielberg's baby, which may account for the multiple this-seems-suspiciously-like-that-last-stupid-part-of-A.I. endings. That's right; that whole mess up there is the script before Chris got his hands on it.
"Eh, David Goyer did the first pass on three of my movies. I've done more with less."
But who knows? Maybe Nolan will tone it down a little. Haha, just kidding. Christopher Nolan, in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, tends toward chaos, not equilibrium. We don't know exactly what changes have been made, but we do know that Nolan will retain many of Spielberg's original ideas, while incorporating some more stuff.
"Mr. Nolan, this just isn't safe!"
"I said more black holes, goddamnit!"
And this isn't just some pet project that the studios are allowing to happen because Spielberg and Nolan collectively generate more money than Belgium; Warner Bros. and Paramount are fighting tooth and nail to throw money at this thing. Warner wanted in so badly that they agree to co-finance the next Friday the 13th installment, as well as an upcoming South Park movie, pegging Nolan's artistic value somewhere between a shitty horror franchise and a profanity-laced Comedy Central cartoon.
You'll Need a Ph.D. in Physics Just to Understand It
Nolan wasn't kidding when he said he wanted to journey to the furthest borders of our scientific understanding. The script was co-written by Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist and a colleague of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, on top of being winner of the Einstein Medal for Being Way Smarter Than You. Thorne's previous work with Hollywood includes consulting for the script of Contact, and we all remember how easy to grasp that was.
"It's a super-smart sci-fi space travel concept co-starring that red-hot Matthew McConaughey!"
-Warner Bros. execs, 18 years ago. Just sayin'.
But don't worry, Christopher Nolan is here to keep things accessible to the layperson. Just keep that in mind: The script co-written by a super genius has a threshold of comprehension of "It makes sense to Christopher Nolan," a director whose most straightforward movie to date is about a man with schizophrenia who beats the shit out of people while dressed like a bat.
The Visuals Are Going to Destroy Your Brain
Nolan's already mind-melting cinematic style is getting thrown into overdrive for Interstellar. On top of being one of the only directors to still use actual film for his movies, Nolan also likes to incorporate IMAX cameras for certain shots to give the scene a sense of dizzying vastness. So naturally, Nolan is taking IMAX to the ma- uh, extreme by incorporating more IMAX shots than ever before. No digital, no 3D, just tripping balls in plain old anamorphic 2D. This movie is going to be the visual equivalent of a gang initiation.
"You're one of us now. Go shank anyone getting tickets for Big Hero 6."
And naturally this traditionalism also extends to special effects. Nolan shoots as much as he can on camera and only resorts to CGI when the thing he wants to show can't possibly exist in reality. As such, the majority of the film uses practical special effects. He built all the ships and interiors to full scale and "put the reality outside" of the ship so he could "shoot it like a documentary." So apparently Nolan built outer space for this film?
"It was actually a joint effort with Jim Cameron and the Avatar sequels, but yes."
Will Interstellar be terrible? When you strip away the dizzying visuals, time travel, hyper-intelligent gravity beings, and Chinese killer robots ... we're still not sure what the hell is happening.
When Chris isn't inceptioning you, he writes for his website, tweets, and hosts a podcast that was described as "the auditory equivalent of the Total Perspective Vortex."