I finally watched Gravity the other night. I can see how it got such rave reviews. Just two thoughts I wanted to share:
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are tethered together. They hake it to the ISS, but Clooney’s MMU is out of fuel. They bounce around like they’re in a giant pachinko machine, and they miss their last hand-hold. Fortunately, Bullocks leg gets wrapped up in the shrouds of the Soyuz’s deployed parachute and they are saved. Clooney flies by and is only saved by the tether. OK, here’s the problem: Once he reached the end of the tether, he would have bounced back. He doesn’t. He’s pulling away under some force. There doesn’t appear to be any rotation that would fling him outward; so even if he doesn’t rebound as he should have, all Bullock or Clooney would have had to do is give a little tug on the tether and they would have come together. The shroud line on Bullock’s foot wasn’t that tenuous! It looked like bad Physics to me, especially since they used the rebounding-at-the-end-of-a-teather thing earlier and later in the film.
The other thing was the very end. Bullock lands in water and blows the hatch. She swims out of the sunken capsule and makes it to the surface, exhausted. She floats on her back. After everything else that happened – one calamity after another – I was really expecting her to be attacked by a crocodile.
In some eras, that’s exactly how the film would have ended, for some form of crocodile. (I mean, go back and look at Rocketship X-M, fa chrissakes.)
But part of Cuaron’s genius is that he believes in hope. For all the magnificent scenes in space - minor bobbles aside - that last scene is what makes the movie. The important thing to me is that it doesn’t even matter where she landed - she’s home.
(And in other eras, it would have been either schmaltz, landing within feet of her daughter’s grave, or irony, landing in the smoking rubble of some city wiped out by space debris. Bravo, Alfonso!)
Great movie – and it works better than I thought it would on TV. It remains the only movie that I would recommend seeing in 3D.
There were a lot of little technical issues about the special effects discussed when it came out. I think the most nitpicky complaint was that, when she removes her helmet in the ISS, her hair doesn’t spread away from her head like it would in space (also that she’s not wearing a diaper), but those are aesthetic choices that are inconsequential to the plot.
The issue with Clooney floating away is a problem that has no solution and has been discussed a lot – in the end it’s just a trope to make the rest of the story about Bullock’s character. I think that Bill Maher’s explanation made the most sense, that it came down to the fact that George Clooney would rather float off and die in the cold, airless, darkness of space than be left alone with a woman near his own age.
It was OK. Entertaining. They did a good job, generally, with the zero gravity aspects even if there were a few pretty significant goofs. The thing that got me was when she was going thru the Russian manuals (OK, I can buy that she’s studied some Russian and maybe can read a few things) and then the Chinese manuals ( :dubious: )??? At that point it looked like she was deliberately just punching random buttons-- how lucky for her it worked!!
Of course, the ending was also symbolic. We start out in space, at the pinnacle of technological accomplishment, and end up crawling out of the water to stand on land – the pinnacle of Permian-era accomplishment. The character is literally reduced to fundamentals.
Since I rarely go the theater and this was my first (and only) theatrical 3D experience I can’t say if the 3D was exceptional compared to others, but I was certainly blown away and would unreservedly recommend seeing it that way. I suppose the fact that it was in one of those upgraded theaters with comfortable seating, terrific sound and a really giant screen probably helped. But the 3D was in no way contrived and seemed a natural and immersive part of the movie.
The ending of this movie gave me a flashback to the 9th grade when I read “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane. In that story, the four main characters, after surviving the sinking of their ship and a long time adrift in a dinghy, finally come within sight of the shore only to find that the most dangerous part of their ordeal is trying to make it onto dry land.
Incidentally, the ending was shot in Lake Powell, Arizona which meant that not only was Bullock’s character in danger of drowning in shallow lagoon but in danger of drowning in a shallow lagoon in the middle of a desert.
My interpretation of the ISS scene was that the tether wrapped around her leg enough to stop her, but it wasn’t tight enough counter the momentum of both of them after she grabbed Clooney and got pulled along with him, so her leg began slipping out. Once she let go it was only her mass pulling on the tether and it didn’t pull free.
She had quite a lot of experience in the Soyuz simulator – though she crashed it every time. The point was made that the Chinese capsule was pretty much a copy of the Soyuz, so it wasn’t completely random.
I read that just after high school. Good story.
I was still waiting for crocodiles.
Good point, indeed. I missed it because I was thinking about hungry reptiles.