I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I sat down to view Gravity, the new space movie directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The reason for my confusion was the myriad blurbs to which I had already been accidentally exposed before I finally got to see the film for myself. Depending on the source of the blurb, the movie could be a simple space adventure or a complex statement about man and his individual worth among the many.
There were blurbs about Sandra and her amazing performance — just Sandra and her space helmet delivering a heart-wrenching, Oscar–worthy performance. Like someone took Sally Field in Steal Magnolias and plopped a space helmet on her head before her funeral “lose it” scene where it is suggested that she “hit Weizer” to feel better. Those blurbs sounded a little bit like experimental theatre to me (at best) and something like Greater Tuna (at worst) — where through creative use of her wig, helmet, and a couple of NASA scarves, Sandra would be relating the suffering of each individual citizen of the cosmos through an interpretive dance while Morgan Freeman reads a poem inspired by Mandela’s starry night gazing. With those blurbs, I just tried to close my ears and hope for something entertaining and accessible.
When men chimed in with their blurbs, it was more often than not to point out issues with the way “space” had been represented on screen. Something about the physics of this thing or that thing. With them, I also closed my ears. On issues of physics simulations, my feeling is, “it’s a movie, stupid — it’s make-believe! Sandra isn’t really in space!”.
And then finally I did see the movie. It’s pretty simple. Sandra is in orbit. An accident happens. Everyone but Sandra dies. She’s forced to try one slim “last chance” gimmick after another, each time hoping to find safe passage home. A lot of muddled emotion about a daughter. Sandra makes it home. She curls her feet and toes in mud. The End.
Given that science–types have had some pretty negative things to say about how it represents zero gravity, I have to say that the movie has not much to offer. Without a convenient love story and without cool techie stuff…<yawn>
FINAL VERDICT: If you get a chance to see it on a huge TV or giant theatre screen, go for it! The visual effects are pretty great.