Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gravity (2013) Review

I had seen the coming attractions for Gravity.  It was the kind of movie I’d be interested in seeing, but not necessarily in renting.  When my parents got it from Netflix, they kept it over the weekend, giving me a chance to watch it myself.  The story goes that Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, and Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney, are making repairs to some orbiting equipment.  When disaster strikes, they have to make it to the International Space Station to get home.  I was mostly curious to see how they made a 91-minute film from this.

Normally, I’m accustomed to going into greater detail about the plot, but there’s not much to describe.  After the Russians destroy one of their own satellites, the debris destroys the shuttle that Stone and Kowalski were planning on taking back home.  Kowalski has thrusters, which he can use to get the two of them to the ISS, which has escape pods.  Unfortunately, one has been used and the other is in no condition to be used safely, making the only remaining option a nearby Chinese escape pod.

Much of the movie comes from suspense.  Unless they can make it to an escape pod, there are three ways the movie could end for the two characters:  They could drift off in to space and die a cold death, they could drift towards Earth and die a fiery death during reentry, or they could continue in orbit and hope the debris doesn’t get them.  Unfortunately, Kowalski wasted a lot of his jet fuel having fun around the equipment they were supposed to be repairing.  (I can’t say I blame him.  I wouldn’t expect Russian space debris, either.)

I could also see this being a vehicle for 3-D effects.  I’ve always hated that DVDs tend not to have a 3-D version.  I imagine that the big problem is not wanting to have to ship special glasses.  Then again, it might be something that they could sell separately.  (Maybe free 3-D glasses with an upgrade?)  I would have like to have seen this movie in 3-D.  I probably would have watched that version if I had been given the option.

There was some notoriety when Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out a few mistakes that the movie made.  )He later pointed out that the movie got a lot right, including how the debris behaved.)  Admittedly, though, a few liberties were taken for the sake of the story.  I don’t think it would have been as suspenseful if they had stuck to all the laws of physics.

I should warn you that people do die.  This isn’t ruining anything, as it happens in the first few minutes.  I bring this up because we get to see them after they’ve been killed and it’s not pretty.  If you’re squeamish about this at all, you may want to consider that.  Overall, I would probably only recommend this to someone if they’re a fan of Bullock of Clooney.  I probably wouldn’t have watched this if my parents hadn’t rented it.

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