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GRAVITY, directed by Oscar nominee Alfonso Cuaron, stars Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone.]]>
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A Space Shuttle team is repairing the Hubble Space Telescope when they get word of a debris field headed their way. It seems the Russians, for some reason (a test maybe?) have shot down one of their own satellites- accidentally creating a hazard to everything in orbit. Astronaut Kowalski (Clooney) rescues the set adrift Stone (Bullock) during the ensuing mayhem and after determining that the Shuttle is a total loss gets her over to the International Space Station. Stone survives that tip, Kowalski does not. George Clooney is off screen by the 35 minute mark, to reappear in a hallucination Stone has around 1:03- for about 3 minutes.
Very little of anyone in the movie but Sandra Bullock. Her character barely makes it to the ISS, has to quickly leave- successfully piloting a damaged Soyuz capsule close enough to the Chinese Space Station to get to it with an improvised jet pack (fire extinguisher from the ISS). Our heroine makes it back to Earth (China?) by entering the Chinese station as it has already begun reentry and escaping in the remaining Chinese capsule (a Soyuz copy) during a fiery reentry. The most unlikely part of the movie in my opinion.
Gravity looks great and must really be something in 3D but if you aren't into "space stuff" beyond a generally very believable look to it (I think a large part of it was done in a computer) may not be for everyone.
The only extra on the DVD is a 10 minute mini movie of Dr. Stone's radio conversation with Aningaaq (accounting for Greenland in the credits), the rest of the special features must be on the Blu rays. I see filming locations as Shepperton Studios, England and on location in Lake Powell Arizona (I'm guessing Stone's landing was there, nicely greened up to look "Chinese").
Is this scientifically accurate? No, there are several areas in which it takes liberties for dramatic purpose. For example: space debris traveling at 20,000 or 22,000 mph passes by on the screen looking like it's going about 200-250 mph. In reality, unless you saw it on radar you would never see debris coming that fast before it hit you or hit something nearby. Could the destruction of one satellite trigger such a rapid cascade of debris taking out most orbiting satellites (as well as space stations, shuttles etc?) No, they wouldn't fall like a stack of dominoes in rapid succession. However this relates to one of the strengths of the film: its grounding in real concerns.
The DVD or Blu-Ray has a lot of "special features", the best of which I felt was a documentary about the real problem of space debris. I didn't realize this actually has its own name now (from the NASA scientist who first raised alarm flags). As the documentary points out, our modern world increasingly relies upon satellites: for phone transmissions, GPS, TV, and all kinds of things. And there's a huge amount of JUNK out there now. I remember hearing about the Chinese "shooting down" one of their own ageing weather satellites to test the technology, which produced a huge amount of orbiting debris. I did NOT remember ever hearing that an Iridium satellite collided with an out-of-service Russian military satellite producing an even larger amount of orbiting debris. I remember one US shuttle coming back with a big ole chip out of the front windshield, thought most likely the result of collision with a really small object like a fleck of paint, at the huge velocities involved if orbiting things collide head-on. I did NOT hear that the International Space Station has many such damage marks already. I thought if we just took care not to increase the amount of junk up there, it would gradually decrease, as orbits tend to decay and stuff eventually falls back to earth. On the contrary there is a real concern that further collisions between large objects in orbit will produce large increases in orbiting debris, increasing the odds of more collisions, causing even more debris, until we reach the point that most existing satellites would be in peril, as would future launches. Once we reached that point, we could in fact lose many useful satellites and the services they provide, and be unable to safely replace them and be assured that their replacements would last a long time. That's the realistic background for the story.
And this story is very well-done. Visually it's fantastic (not just on IMAX and not just in 3-D, but on a home system too). Dramatically, it's hard to ask for much better. A lot of thought went into every scene, every word of dialog. This is a movie worth watching. The PG-13 rating also seems appropriate; there are scenes of dead bodies and it could easily be too frightening for children, but there is no unnecessary blood, gore, swearing or nudity.
The biggest complaint I could offer is: not only a lot of thought went into everything, on the "bonus features" they had to TELL you their every thought too. A movie of 91 minutes ought not to have a special feature of 1 hr 45 minutes of talking about how they did it. Sorry, I think that goes on a "commentary soundtrack" which should be cut down to 91 minutes. But in addition to the nice science documentary, there's also a nice short film made by the director, very much related to the main feature, which I enjoyed watching. Clearly, Cuaron really loves making films.
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There is no air in outer space, and thus no medium to conduct sound. Space is absolutely silent.Read more