5 Stupid Complaints We Always Have About Chris Nolan Movies
Depending on whom you ask, Interstellar is a [genius/horrible] film from an [acclaimed/overrated] director who [is the next/could never live up to] Stanley Kubrick. For someone who basically just adapts his dream journal into silly action films, Christopher Nolan is one of the most polarizing and over-analyzed directors of the decade.
It's almost as if the idea of a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster that actually explores science fiction (and not the tensile strength of giant CGI robots) has thrown us all off, and we have no idea how to react to it. The bizarre result is that, no matter what genre of movie Nolan puts out, the Internet goes Joker-level crazy over it in the same exact ways.
Every Critic Immediately Transforms Into a Terrible Version of Cracked
Look, we get it -- Cracked's charming nitpicky movie lists are a fun format blanket for critics to slip into, like Luke warming himself in a tauntaun (which, incidentally, according to Newton's law of cooling, wouldn't actually work). Every time Nolan releases a marginally thought-provoking movie (he tends to present a bunch of ideas without ever actually exploring them to a satisfying degree), everyone feels the need to prove how much smarter they are than the material, like a group of teenagers acting tough in a haunted house. The result is a cascade of "plot hole" lists so nitpicky that even we take issue.
An Inception of nitpicking if you will.
While there's the obvious back-and-forth Inception invoked, for some bizarre reason movies like The Dark Knight Rises also got bombarded with dull "plot-skewering" listicles. Movieline ran one that asked, "What's up with that one hug?" between Catwoman and her friend ... on an article called (we shit you not) "Holy Plot Holes, Batman! 9 Logical Gripes With The Dark Knight Rises." What Culture asks how Bane and Talia knew who Batman was, and then immediately points out that her father, Ra's Al Ghul, probably told her, literally answering their own question on a list called "The Dark Knight Rises: 10 Questions We Still Want Answered." At least SlashFilm was honest with themselves when they simply put out "15 Things That Bothered Us About The Dark Knight Rises," which included such irreconcilable grievances as the fact that one scene was shot in a hallway. We were inundated with so many shoddy Dark Knight Rises lists that other sites started spoofing them.
Now Interstellar is out, and already we're getting hard-hitting lists from sites like Business Insider, Salon, HitFix, and Entertainment Weekly, rattling off such "baffling questions" and "plot holes" as:
If there's one place that knows about creating an annoyingly suffocating thing, it's the Internet.
Yes. What is the deal with how Interstellar doesn't cover everyone in the entirety of the world, or tell us how, in very specific detail, a crop famine is going to kill everyone? Why didn't that guy punch his sister in the face? Not so smart anymore, are you, Nolan?
Almost every list on Christopher Nolan plot holes devolves into a bunch of personal complaints the author has with the film. Either that, or they completely redefine their standards for how plot holes work, like The Guardian's splitting observation that the part where they send a robot into a black hole to send quantum data sounds "like something they just made up as a plot device," as if everything else in the movie was backed up with hard science.
That's like singling out the fact that they briefly mention Doctor Octopus' arms are immune to magnets in Spider-Man 2 without going into the science behind it. Interstellar isn't a space documentary.
The Critical "Backlash" Defies Space-Time
Backlashes used to happen gradually. For example, when The Sixth Sense came out, it was drowned in glowing praise for a solid month before everyone slowly began to realize all the ridiculous plot holes created by the infamous twist ending. Interstellar's critical "backlash" was declared 9 days before the general public was actually able to see the film.
So, when Interstellar finished No. 2 at the box office in its opening weekend, everyone blamed the "Nolan backlash" like it's some kind of growing political movement. Interstellar was a very close second, by the way, so it isn't like people were in the streets shouting "FUCK THIS MOVIE" as hard as they could. They just wanted to see Big Hero 6 more that weekend, which honestly makes sense, because that movie has a wider audience. You don't take a child to a Chris Nolan movie unless you're trying to frighten them.
While his films aren't perfect (like we point out here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), they also aren't trying to trick anyone, and they aren't filled with controversial themes. Yet, Google "backlash + any Nolan film" with the timestamp set to shortly after the release and you get nothing but this:
"Yes, because we'll start it, but still ..."
Notice that last article about Inception? Yep -- even four years ago critics were asking if Chris Nolan films would suffer a "backlash" before they even came out. The same question was asked about The Dark Knight, which was also declared to suffer a backlash not two months after its release.
The journalistic crime of "Biff! Bam! Pow!" being in the headline for a comic-related story is worse than any of Nolan's cinematic faults.
To put this in perspective, do the same search with Man of Steel (a film that tried really hard to be a Christopher Nolan movie and wound up turning Superman into a murderer), and only a few of the results reflect a "backlash":
Meanwhile, The Dark Knight Rises sparked balls-out rage:
You're reading that fourth result correctly -- Rotten Tomatoes had to shut down its comments because users were literally lobbing death threats at critics who gave the film unfavorable reviews (again, before the movie had actually been released -- none of the commenters had even seen it yet). Not because the users disagreed (again, none of them had seen it yet, and The Dark Knight Rises currently holds a 90 percent rating on the site) but because they really wanted it to be a great movie.
Somewhere between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, everyone decided that a Christopher Nolan film is supposed to be a profound, life-changing experience, and anything less than that would invoke a revolt. Meanwhile, Nolan has repeatedly said that entertaining a wide audience takes priority over trying to be some complicated, mindfucking wizard. He just wants to make entertaining movies. And yet, we've convinced ourselves that his films are supposed to be life-changing experiences.
People Make "Explanation" Graphs More Elaborate Than the Actual Films
At its core, Interstellar is the classic "boy meets girl, girl has kids and dies, boy goes to space and super-ages 20 years, Matt Damon explodes, boy uses a wormhole to leave a bookcase message to his now-adult daughter and saves all of mankind" story. Pretty straightforward stuff -- but in case you are confused, one fan made this handy and simple guide:
Still confused? Here's another one that should help:
Everything make sense now? Of course it doesn't, because that chart is fucking insane. There are less complicated flow charts in budget meetings at the Pentagon.
What if we told you that Christopher Nolan films aren't that complicated? We know, we know, it sounds crazy, but stick with us -- the "A to B to C" plots of each of his films are extremely easy to follow. Even Memento, which plays with its narrative timeline but is still a completely linear story, despite whatever the screaming frogshits this graph is trying to tell you:
It will take you longer to decipher this chart than to watch the actual movie.
No matter what the movie is, Nolan fans will over-complicate it with pictures. Someone even did one for the Dark Knight films as well, despite the fact that movies don't get much more straightforward than fucking Batman:
The only peaks and rises you need are "punching" and "no punching."
And here's a visual explanation of the dream layers in Inception, which, as you may have noticed, is totally unnecessary to watch and enjoy the film:
Its most helpful dream thing is being able to put you to sleep.
Notice how none of these actually manages to clarify the plot of any of these films? That's because, on the Internet, explaining the storyline to Nolan films is less about clearing up confusion and more about graphic-design students getting their Tumblr post reblogged 20,000 times. It's a lucrative gig for scientists as well, because ...
Everyone Inexplicably Fact-Checks the Science
Imagine, for a moment, if every single recent space movie -- like Guardians of the Galaxy, Elysium, Man of Steel, Ender's Game, Star Trek Into Darkness, Riddick, and Thor 2 -- had to be rigorously fact-checked and judged on how accurately it portrayed gravity and physics. That would be crazy-talk, right? So why are we doing this with Interstellar, a movie that Nolan admitted is "deliberately speculative" about its science (unlike Gravity). Interstellar is unabashedly a science-fiction film, and yet both it and Gravity were tossed beneath the same Neil deGrasse Tyson microscope:
Yes. We must know: is the science of the sci-fi fantasy film accurate? Otherwise we'd never know if it could really happen:
"The greatest scientific minds of Glamour.com are on the case."
Unless they invite it beforehand with lofty claims of realism, pretty much no other science-fiction films get this treatment (although Tyson did hilariously pick apart Prometheus in a series of tweets that should've won a medal in the Passive-Aggressive Olympics). And while a movie like Interstellar did have a foot in the "science" part of science fiction, we've been trying to dissect all of his films with science as if they are dissertations.
"Prestige is a scientific slap in the face to the proud 'Batman and Wolverine doing magic with Ziggy Stardust' genre."
To be clear, Inception is about people robbing your dreams and The Prestige is literally about magic -- not just card tricks, mind you, but actual fucking magic. And yes, that last headline is Scientific American asking whether or not a crime-punching billionaire cosplayer could actually sustain himself in the real world. Since Batman Begins, Nolan has become synonymous with taking outlandish storylines and managing to ground them in a semi-realistic world, so now we judge every single film he releases by that criteria. And when we say "every film," we aren't kidding:
"U.N. looking into possible sanctions against Nolanstan."
You heard it from ComicBook.com, folks: it turns out The Dark Knight Rises isn't 100 percent scientifically accurate. Time to start pulling that film from the curriculum.
Everyone Assumes the Ending Is Really Complex
Inception has one of the most wildly misunderstood endings of all time. As Cobb spins his "am I dreaming?" top and walks away, the film ends before definitively answering the question. Audiences are supposed to realize that whether he is asleep or awake is irrelevant, because he no longer cares -- Cobb doesn't even wait to see if the top will fall, he runs to his children, because that's where he wants to be. It's a nice little cherry on a film about doubting reality that ironically sparked an obsessive debate about whether or not Cobb was still dreaming, or even still alive for some reason.
Stupid? Is that an option?
After this dead horse was smacked one too many times, Michael Caine had to step in and explain that everyone is an idiot:
Somewhere down the line, the world made an unspoken agreement to assume that the ending to every Christopher Nolan movie must be more complex than it seems. So when Batman defeats Bane and passes his bat-mantle on to Bat-Joseph Gordon-Levitt, some people thought that must mean that Batman actually dies and goes to heaven, because that's totally how a superhero movie would end.
Jesus Christ. Someone get Caine back in here to clear everything up:
He's the hero the Internet needs but doesn't deserve.
Interstellar's ending goes like this: Matthew McConaughey goes into a black hole, finds a species of advanced humans living beyond our dimensions, and uses the extra dimensions of time and love (proving Huey Lewis right once and for all) to send a message to his daughter that will cause her to solve some bullshit equation and save mankind. Then he gets flung out of the wormhole and by staggering coincidence is found in the vast infinity of space, only to go off on another adventure to find the other scientist. It's Batman in space: hero risks life, saves everyone, doesn't die, leaves to go bone Anne Hathaway. It does not get more straightforward than that- OH COME ON:
Look, guys. There is nothing confusing about the ending of this movie. Sometimes things are meant to be taken at face value. Just because Nolan ends all his films with epic Hans Zimmer and a voiceover doesn't mean there's a-
Fine. Whatever. McConaughey is in heaven with Batman.
Tell David how much of a genius/hack he is on his Twitter account.
For further unabashed cinematic nitpicking, check out 5 Sequels That Created Hilarious Plot Paradoxes.