Tripping Into A Black Hole In This Week's Movies NPR film critic Bob Mondello gets blinded by science this week at the movies, what with The Theory of Everything, Interstellar, Big Hero 6 and some really cool black holes.
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Tripping Into A Black Hole In This Week's Movies

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Tripping Into A Black Hole In This Week's Movies

Tripping Into A Black Hole In This Week's Movies

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KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, HOST:

Last week, movie theaters were filled with Halloween horror, Ouija boards and night crawlers. This week, movie critic Bob Mondello says if you head for the multiplex, you might just trip into a black hole.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: I've learned a lot about physics this week at movie screenings. And let me start by saying I have no idea how much of it is accurate, only that it comes vetted by - or at least associated with - some very high-powered theoretical physicists. Chief among them, Stephen Hawking, who is the subject of a biopic called "The Theory Of Everything," which starts with him as a young collegiate type bracing himself for skepticism from his Cambridge professors about his doctoral dissertation.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING")

EDDIE REDMAYNE: (As Stephen Hawking) And then of course we have chapter four. This black hole at the beginning of time.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: Space-time singularity?

REDMAYNE: (As Stephen Hawking) Indeed.

MONDELLO: They try, but they can't contain their smiles.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: Brilliant, Stephen. All there is to say as well done - or perhaps I should say to be more precise, well done doctor.

REDMAYNE: (As Stephen Hawking) Thank you.

MONDELLO: Hawking then sets about trying to come up with a singular theory to prove space-time singularity or something. Happily, "The Theory Of Everything" is centered on Eddie Redmayne's terrifically physical performance as Stephen Hawking, which distracts you from the fact that this movie about the world's most famous scientist doesn't deal much with science, especially the science of black holes.

For that this week, you need to head for either San Fransokyo in Disney's animated "Big Hero 6," or the outer rings of Saturn, in Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar." San Fransokyo being closer, let's head there first in the company of an animated teen science nut named Hiro.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG HERO 6")

RYAN POTTER: (As Hiro) Laser-induced plasma?

MONDELLO: And his nerdy buddies.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG HERO 6")

DAMON WAYANS, JR.: (As Wasabi) With a little magnetic confinement for ultra-precision.

MONDELLO: That's Wasabi. Also, Go Go.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG HERO 6")

JAMIE CHUNG: (As Go Go) Welcome to the nerd lab.

MONDELLO: Honey Lemon.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG HERO 6")

GENESIS RODRIGUEZ: (As Honey Lemon) Chemical metal embrittlement.

MONDELLO: Fred.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG HERO 6")

T.J. MILLER: (As Fred) I'm not a student. But I am a major science enthusiast.

MONDELLO: And Baymax, an inflatable health robot.

SCOTT ADSIT: (As Baymax) Tadashi programmed me to heal the sick and injured.

MONDELLO: As you might gather from their names, they are a diverse crew in an animated comedy with a fondness for science. They're also on a mission to stop a guy who is determined to suck them all into a wormhole, which is to say an Einstein-Rosen bridge, between two black holes on opposite ends of - I'm already out of my depth here. But the filmmakers consulted with Caltech's theoretical cosmologist, Sean Carroll, who specializes in dark energy and relativity.

So while "Big Hero 6" is still a cartoon, it is not an uninformed one. Kids watching will have a leg up when they hear about this stuff in their science classes a decade from now, assuming, of course, that this stuff will still be taught in science classes a decade from now. The movie "Interstellar" casts some doubt on that.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "INTERSTELLAR")

COLLETTE WOLFE: (As Ms. Kelly) It's an old federal textbook. We've replaced them with the corrected versions.

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: (As Cooper) Corrected?

WOLFE: (As Ms. Kelly) Explaining how the Apollo missions were fake to bankrupt the Soviet Union.

MONDELLO: Director Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic pictures an Earth that has grown science-averse, which is a problem because it's running out of food and humankind needs to head to inhabitable planets elsewhere. Although purged textbooks might keep students of the future from understanding this, the laws of physics say getting to other stars in time would be all but impossible, but a wormhole would fix that problem. And happily, one appears, extremely well vetted by physicist Kip Thorne, who is not only "Interstellar's" executive producer, but is also a friend of Stephen Hawking.

An early treatment of the film's story reportedly had Hawking as a character but that was scrapped. Instead, filmmakers used his theories to accurately visualize a rapidly rotating black hole so that Matthew McConaughey and friends could plunge into it.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "INTERSTELLAR")

MCCONAUGHEY: (As Cooper) Everybody ready to say goodbye to our solar system, to our galaxy? Here we go. Hang on.

MONDELLO: Nolan's script goes so deeply into explaining black holes and their effect on time that if I were 19 and "Interstellar" were my "2001: A Space Odyssey," I'd be over the moon. But I'm not, and it's not, so I contented myself with admiring its special effects, which are indeed special, and precise enough, apparently, to inspire dissertations in their own right. Wouldn't it be nice if Stephen Hawking would weigh in? I'm Bob Mondello.

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