Without taking away the credit Christopher Nolan deserves in bringing the frontier of physics into popular domain and infusing a dose of awe and wonder about the unknowns in our world, there are many points to raise with the Nolan brothers on the Hollywood space conquest Interstellar.
While criticism has ranged from loud music to distorted Murphy's Law and even American colonialism of space, perhaps the biggest problem with the story is that of human supremacy. Call it American supremacy if you wish. (Remember, American flags, baseball and Nasa all the way?)
The human race must survive, it says, and for this we must seed other lands with the human germ line, echoing the view of many scientists and space adventurists.
When shown against a background of blight and dust storms invading earth, this simply translates to nature gone berserk, and no thanks to humans. When the grand old man of Nasa, Dr Brand says, we are not meant to save the world, we are meant to leave it, one is tempted to ask, who says so?
Instead of showing how dust bowls as part of desertification carry the indelible stamp of human hand as also the blight a la climate change, the script refers to nitrogen in the air not being good for humans but best for the pathogen. In one stroke the planet is turned into hell's fire.
At a time when irreversible climate change is panting outside barely closed doors, the space odyssey could have saved two birds by dropping one stone - Conquest. Neither can faraway galaxies nor earth be 'conquered' by man. This is a mindset that sets off destruction, here or there.
There is almost a hint of why the world landed where it has, when grandpa makes a comment about 'six billion people and every one of them trying to have it all'.
At that point, it was an opportunity for the filmmaker to send across the message of climate change that has wrecked a beautiful home, one of its kind in a vast universe or universes.
Even a small hint on the value of the 'blue rock' or the marvellous series of 'random coincidences' that conspired to make it habitable is missing in the film.
That is where Gravity scores in its simplicity and homage to earth.
Forget taking a stab at the human race which is taking all species to the brink of extinction with its insatiable greed for things, the storyline digresses into wondrous technology and the many inventions of a glorious past.
There is not a single thought expressed to stay and change things for the better.
The planet has been given up on. Remember, 'we are meant to leave'. One almost sees the sinister hand of a besieged space agency propagating the message its business is built on. It does not take a stretch of imagination either to draw a few dots and dashes from the recent past and project it into a tomorrow.
Talking of blight and crop losses, one wonders how an escape to distant universes is supposed to address food security. Perhaps a chip to address world hunger is on the anvil.
Come to think of it, how come man who takes on a black hole cannot tackle a dust storm??
Besides showcasing Nasa for its enterprise and black hole cracking expertise, the movie is one that celebrates man as separate and superior to nature. With the humanoids as good if not better than man, with craft that withstands the extremes of a black hole, with probes that fish out people from singularities, it is hats off to man and his machines.
So much so that farming is infra dig. Humans should be doing more than growing food. Caretaking is scorned at while exploration is worshipped. Even exploration per se would have been fine but this one comes more than tinged with conquest. Man the conqueror. Man who conquers space and time.
Like all good American films, this one too is about the super man. It flits over the vast space pregnant with possibilities to pick a few fallen feathers and place it in the 'achievement' cap.