5 Thinks I Hated About Gravity

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Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar rexknobus
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    Disclaimer — I liked the film. Also, I write for space agencies. I don’t really want to defend the movie — like it or not, that’s not really important. But I had some responses to your comments and little bit of free time. (NASA isn’t real demanding of my time these days!)

    1. I think that what really happened in the “Jacob Marley” sequence was that Jacob/George (fueled by Bullock’s subconscious) reminded her about the steering jets. She had decided to die (I presumed), because all of her options had vanished and she didn’t want to wait around for it. Oxygen deprivation gave her a vision, and the vision supplied a way out.

    2. The alternating between thrilling action and peaceful graphics was a good illustration of pacing to me. Any action film that is worth watching has quite a few moments where the characters, and audience, catch their breath. The beauty of space provided some really nice interludes between the breathless hurtling.

    3. The movie really did mess up its orbital mechanics and the realities of satellite placement, etc, etc. But for the most part audiences don’t really know these things on a gut level. My guess would be that if you took a poll of viewers leaving the theater and asked them what they thought of the cloud of debris hurtling by, or the shot of the Chinese station in the distance, or the fire extinguisher, you wouldn’t get a lot of Kepler coming back at you. Then factor in the aforementioned thrilling action sequences and it was very easy for me to briefly consider the problem and then get lost in the film again. This is very similar to watching gun fights or car chases or even love scenes in movies. They really aren’t much like the real thing, but we tend to let that go for the thrill of the moment. So, to answer your question, what is gained is an exciting string of sequences.

    4. It is a point that this is not a dialog-driven movie, but is that really a flaw? Yes, the dialog performed in the ways that you describe, but I don’t see that problem there. As you said, the dialog supplied rules, explanations, and objectives — all of which are completely necessary, especially in this sort of film. But I’ll disagree that Bullock’s emotional journey was spoken rather than shown. One of the few (I feel) inarguable assets of this film is the lady’s sterling performance, whether speaking or not.

    5. Not to be snarky, but when you’re in orbit, you don’t “float” closer to Earth, or “drift” away. Back to that Keplerian stuff… But I think that you answer your own question in “reviewing the movie you wanted to see.” I can easily envision a film about two people talking as they separate in space (it isn’t a whole film, but there is a lovely, if somewhat plagiarized, conversation between two spacemen floating apart in “Dark Star.”) I can also see that two people floating in the darkness of space, talking as they drift apart, might make a terrific one-act play, but I doubt that it would sell of lot of tickets to a movie crowd. If that was what you wanted to see, you were indeed doomed to failure. I think that what you are talking about would be difficult to pull off. “2001” managed a lot of “silence in space” scenes. “Moon” had some really interesting conversations. But both had their thriller elements. Clooney and Bullock talking about life and the icy beauty of space as they drift apart and their radio signals fade? Actually, that sounds like a great premise for a radio episode. I should note that for a podcast.

    Sorry the film didn’t entertain as you wanted. That’s the chance we take when we buy tickets. I’m pretty critical of its faults myself, and was aware of many of them while watching. FemRex and I, upon leaving the theater, decided it was one of those films that really isn’t about anything other than its own thrills and spills — and that the thrills and spills were terrific and well worth the time.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to rexknobus
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      says:

      On number 5, she’s either going to be falling closer, or getting farther away, no? Presuming that by this point nothing is in a stable orbit anymore?

      In general, thanks for the thoughtful comment–glad to have someone of your expertise weigh in!Report

      • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Ethan Gach
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        says:

        Yeah, it’s always the snark (even when I label it as non-snark) that gets me into trouble. I just reacted to the words and wasted some space. Given the film’s very loose relationship with actual orbital mechanics, she could have “floated” or “drifted” just about anywhere the director/writer wanted her to.

        With all the physics conundrums being played out, the one that actually bothered me when watching the film and that didn’t disappear quickly was the moment when George was dangling from the tether and Sandra was demanding he not let go. The wide shot did establish that there was some momentum pulling him away from her, but it was a very small bit of movement. Really, it wasn’t going to take much of a tug to pull him back, as established in the film. They could have gotten around that by imparting some spin around Sandra’s tether, with George at the end of a “crack the whip” situation. That one stuck with me. Perhaps because it was more easily relatable to life down here on the surface.Report

      • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Ethan Gach
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        says:

        FWIW — it’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but I remember that my “Accuracy in Outer Space” award went to “2010” when it came out. A good, not particularly great, film (with some terrific performances), but it seemed to me that they got the science of it pretty well. Much better than average on that score.Report

  2. Avatar JustRuss
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    says:

    No hate for the Sandra-Bullock-as-fetus shot in the airlock? I found it kind of creepy. Aside from the that, I enjoyed the film, although I have issue with describing the ending as a “safe return”. Sure, she has all the oxygen she’ll ever need, but she’s alone in her underwear in a very rugged middle of nowhere.Report

  3. Avatar Michelle Llewellyn
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    says:

    When you’ve seen Apollo 13 as many times as I have and read Jim Lovell’s Lost Moon twice, this movie never came close to the storytelling quality of what is now a classic piece of film. Once George Clooney’s character let go of Sandra Bullock’s hand it was all over for me. So many “why” questions never answered. Why make the effort to retrieve bodies never recovered during the course of the movie? Why is it OK for George to choose suicide but not Sandra? Why is the father of her lost baby never acknowledged? Why return to Earth in the first place? Because she just couldn’t wait to create her eHarmony profile? Gimme a break! Just once I want to see a movie that doesn’t celebrate misogyny and passes the Bechdel test. Great review!Report

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