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If You Love ‘Interstellar,’ Add These Movies to Your Watchlist

Hello, human, I am a being from the Fifth Dimension.

Matthew McConaughey in 'Interstellar'

Hello, human, I am a being from the Fifth Dimension. Do not be afraid, for I am not unlike you. I am a living thing as well—except that I live in multiple different points in time and you only live in one. I was sent here by my species, a group of star-traveling lesbians, to enlighten you about the many wonders of the universe before you inevitably destroy yourself with the children’s toys that you call “nuclear weapons.”

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However, I am not able to tell you all of the secrets of the universe at once, for that would cause your organic brains to liquefy. Instead, I am going to meet you on your terms and slowly reveal to you the mysteries of reality. How will I do this? I’m glad to have read your mind as you asked that question. We are going to engage in an activity that human beings excel at above all other species in the galaxy: binge watching.

We are going to watch a series of movies about space. But as you have no doubt already seen Interstellar (and who hasn’t? Even my species has watched it), we are going to watch some similar movies that I will use as a catalyst to slowly enlighten you about the truths of the cosmos.

Arrival (2016)

Amy Adams in Arrival looking exhausted.

Arrival is a movie about a situation not unlike the situation you are in now. An alien species has come to Earth in an attempt to communicate with human beings. However, unlike my species, which speaks in thought waves that can be understood by all intelligent life, this species can only speak in symbols. Because the aliens (known as “heptapods”) utilize this form of communication, the U.S. government employs a linguist named Louise Banks in order to assist in the translation process.

The film is a cerebral story about the nature of language itself, and how one would go about communicating with a species that has an entirely different perception of language (and reality) from one’s own. This movie is indeed well made by human standards, but it has an error that I feel the need to correct. It is impressive that you accurately predicted a race of actual aliens, for indeed, the heptapods are a real species. However, they are not the kind, patient, and altruistic creatures that you depicted in your film. They are, to borrow a phrase from your species, “total dicks.” They are always making obscene gestures with their tentacles, and their writing system consists entirely of drawings that look like male genitalia. It’s rather crass.

Gravity (2013)

Sandra Bullock in 'Gravity'
(Warner Bros.)

This film is about a relatively simple concept: the force known as gravity. I’m sure you humans are familiar with the concept. After all, you have not yet evolved to the point where you are able to escape its effects on your corporeal form. In Gravity, one of your most beloved humans, Sandra Bullock, is caught in a deadly battle with this force that my species learned to harness eons ago. After space debris sends her tumbling into the darkness of the universe, her team frantically tries to return her to safety. Why is she not equipped with a gravitational propulsion machine? One, you have not invented them yet, and two, the movie would be rather unexciting if you had.

The Martian (2015)

Matt Damon sitting against a martian rover in 'The Martian'
(20th Century Studios)

The Martian is another notable film that the human species has contributed to the Intergalactic Film Festival called the “observable universe.” It depicts a team of astronauts who are sent on a mission to Mars. However, the crew is forced to evacuate the planet when a dust storm strikes. One of the astronauts, a man named Mark Watney, is struck by a piece of debris in the storm, and is erroneously presumed to be dead by the rest of the team. Marooned on Mars, Watney must find a way to build shelter, grow food, and survive in the harsh landscape of the Red Planet.

The movie is indeed thrilling, and claims to feature the first ever potatoes grown on Mars. However, this is also erroneous. The potato has long be a Martian crop, ever since our ancestors took to the stars and began to farm on planets. Our potatoes, however, are not the same as your potatoes. They are far larger. On Mars, we were only able to plant two of them. One on each pole. What your scientists at NASA have inaccurately characterized as “ice caps” are actually the skins of the potato slowly arising from the planet’s surface over the course of eons. The skins of the potatoes are covered in ice due to the polar temperatures located at these geographical locations, but we assure you that beneath the ice they are entirely spuds. We have planted similar crops on your planet, one on each pole, which will ripen when the sun explodes.

Moon (2009)

Sam Rockwell in 'Moon'
(Sony Pictures)

While intellectually equivalent to my species’ version of children’s TV, Moon is a rather “cerebral” film for your own. We long ago evolved beyond the need for a cerebellum, but no matter. The film stars Sam Rockwell and Sam Rockwell. I’ll explain. Sam Rockwell plays an energy worker who is mining resources from the moon. After a near-fatal accident during a lunar expedition, Sam Rockwell is awoken by a younger version of himself. A clone? A timeskip? You will simply have to watch more to find out.

Ad Astra (2019)

Brad Pitt in 'Ad Astra'
(20th Century Studios)

Ad Astra was mostly overlooked because it was a “box office bomb.” That is because your species determines the intrinsic value of art based on the amount of money that it is able to generate, regardless of the quality of said art. I cannot blame you, as you are still engaged in a primitive struggle to acquire resources. It is unfortunate, however, because this film was quite well-received by critics and audiences alike. Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who embarks on a mission called the “Lima Project,” which is a quest to find extraterrestrial life in the galaxy. If only Mr. Pitt had contacted us first. He would have saved himself some of the trouble.

Nope (2022)

Daniel Kaluuya in Nope
(Universal Pictures)

In Jordan Peele’s Nope, humanity does not go to space. Space comes to them. And it comes hungry. Set in the California desert, a Black family is tormented by a flying saucer-like object that descends out of the sky and begins sucking people up. In case you’re wondering, it’s not sucking them up in order to share fabulous technological secrets. It’s sucking them up to be digested.

Annihilation (2018)

Women in jumpsuits approach the mysterious area known as "the shimmer" in 'Annihilation'

Alex Garland’s Annihilation is a film about what humans do best: meddling in matters beyond their comprehension. The film stars Natalie Portman as a biologist who is contracted to investigate a mysterious space-time disturbance called “The Shimmer” that is slowly making its way across the planet’s surface. Joined by a team of other specialists, she and her fellow scientists soon discover that some mysteries of the universe are better left unsolved.

Treasure Planet (2002)

treasure planet is good actually
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

While Ron Clements and John Musker’s Treasure Planet is hardly an accurate depiction of the physical realities of space travel, it is a charming tale of interstellar exploration that even a child could understand. The story centers around a young boy named Jim Hawkins, who joins a spacefaring group of buccaneers on the hunt for the mysterious “Treasure Planet.” Pity, my species has already found it.

Alien (1979)

sigourney weaver and jonesy the cat in Ridley Scott's Alien.
(20th Century Studios)

Ridley Scott’s Alien serves as a warning to fleshy meatbag species to avoid both space travel and extraterrestrial lifeforms until they have evolved into invulnerable beings of pure light and energy. Like me. Otherwise, there is far too much at risk. The crew of the mining ship Nostromo find this out the hard way after traipsing around an alien planet, and unwittingly bringing back a hostile alien lifeform better left undisturbed.

Dune (2021)

Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) readies his knife as his eyes glow blue in 'Dune: Part Two'
(Warner Bros.)

Ah yes, I have a friend that stars in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. Not Timothee Chalamet, but one of the sand worms. And by “friend” I mean “ex.” Let’s not go into details. Dune takes place on a desert planet where an intergalactic empire harvests a precious substance called “spice.” The family of Paul Atreides is charged with managing the spice, and Paul is soon swept into an intergalactic struggle for resources and independence.

Sunshine (2007)

The cast of Sunshine
(Searchlight Pictures)

Sunshine concerns the survival of humanity in the face of a slowly extinguishing sun. Humanity decides to solve the problem in the most human way possible, by throwing a bomb at it. Scientists design a stellar bomb that will revitalize the dying star, but the crew sent to deliver the payload are met with unforeseen struggles.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most famous films in all of the galaxy; even my species saw it. We thought it was trite, but we saw it. Sort of how your people decided to see Avatar: The Way of Water: “might as well.” On your planet, however, 2001 is critically lauded as one of the greatest films of all time. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the film concerns a mysterious monolith that is responsible for advancing human evolution (we would know, we put it there). A group of archeologists rediscover the monolith, and scientists are sent on mission to Jupiter to reveal more about its mysteries. However, the ship’s sentient computer HAL has other plans for the crew.

Prometheus (2012)

David (Michael Fassbender) holds a glowing orb in his hands in 'Prometheus'
(20th Century Studios)

Prometheus concerns an ill-fated group of astronauts who discover a star map that leads them to an ancient planet that may hold the secrets to humanity’s origins. However, all is not as it seems. After uncovering the ruins of a primordial civilization, the team is set upon by hostile lifeforms that now call the planet home. Such a threat could potentially cause the extinction of the human species, and scientists race to find a solution. They should have simply called us.

Event Horizon (1997)

Sam Neill in event horizon
(Paramount Pictures)

Event Horizon is one of the rare successful depictions of eldritch horror to make it to the big screen. Committing the genre to film is a paradox: how can one visually depict what is visually inconceivable? The director of this film decided to avoid attempting to depict the cause of the central problem, and rather set about depicting its effects. Event Horizon concerns a crew of astronauts responding to a distress signal from a derelict ship that disappeared long ago, but then mysteriously reappeared in Neptune’s orbit. The crew learns that the ship was a test site for an experimental hyperdrive system that folds space time. However, when the hyperdrive was activated, the ship opened a tear in reality that made them vulnerable to a malevolent eldritch force. That’s why we don’t use gravity drives. Dimension #457098 “sucks,” as you might say.

Apollo 13 (1995)

The cast of 'Apollo 13'

Apollo 13 is a dramatized account of what was to be the third time that a team of astronauts would set foot on the moon. However, just like what transpired in the real world, a damaged oxygen tank on the ship exploded, causing the ship’s remaining supply of oxygen to be sent into space. Without oxygen, your species is not able to breathe, because your lungs have not yet developed the capacity to simply breathe in the aether of the universe. Oxygen was also responsible for generating electrical power on the ship, so the team’s propulsion and life support systems began to fail. All of these factors caused one of the astronauts to utter the famous line “Houston, we have a problem.”

Apollo 13 is a thrilling depiction of the true-to-life way that the astronauts were able to work with NASA scientists on the ground in order to save themselves and return to Earth. However, while this is what you perceive to have happened in the real world, this is only one of the infinite outcomes that occurred across infinite parallel universes. In a different universe, all of the astronauts died. In another separate universe, there was no Apollo 13 mission because conditions on Earth were not right to support life in the first place. In a third universe, the human race evolved with penises for hands, and never reached space-flight capabilities because they were unable to touch anything and construct simple tools without arousing themselves. The universe is indeed a strange and mysterious place. I am glad that I was able to enlighten you thus far. However, I must now return home. For it is movie night on planet Lesbos, and we are all going to watch our favorite film: Carol.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels in crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.

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