So, I just got home from an IMAX 3-D showing of "Gravity". If you don't want any spoilers, please hit the back button right now, you've been warned.
When I first saw previews for this movie I automatically hated it. George Clooney as an astronaut? Sandra Bullock? How "exciting" can a two hour movie
of people drifting in space be?
Let me preface this. I was, and always will be a 'space nut'. When I as a kid I wrote to NASA and received loads of photos, schematics and brochures
on the STS program. I made Este's models, and always wanted to be an astronaut. My old man had an 8" Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain with a 35mm camera
attachment, filters, and eyepieces.
Visually, this movie was pretty good. I haven't seen a 3-D movie with as much "3-D" since James Cameron did "Avatar". That alone made up for many,
many plot holes.
The movie opens with an STS mission adding some new tech to the Hubble. Clooney apparently is testing some kind of new EVA backpack. Suddenly, NASA
informs the shuttle crew that the Russians have shot down one of their own spy satellites (similar to the real the 2007 ASAT Chinese test).
This creates a cloud of space debris, which in turn creates a cascade effect, destroying the Space Shuttle, and takes down ALL communication to the
surviving Clooney and Bullock. Of course Clooney (with the help of his experimental EVA backpack) manages to save the spiraling Bullock, and decides
to heroically head for the International Space Station (ISS).
Clooney somehow is able to calculate that every 90 minutes the cloud of razor-sharp 2,000 MPH debris will pass by. They need to get to the ISS for the
one remaining Soyuz escape craft. Upon arrival at the ISS things don't go as planned. The remaining Soyuz is to damaged for re-entry, and it's
parachute is already deployed. Both Bullock and Clooney fall into the ISS to hot, and Bullock's leg get's caught in the parachute lines.
Bullock eventually has to cut Clooney loose (notice I'm using the actors names, as the movie didn't give much character development) -- and he goes
bye-bye. Bullock manages to get inside the ISS, and after many tense scenes, detaches the Soyuz only to realize it's out of fuel.
After a very nice hallucination scene featuring the now-dead Clooney (who gives her advice), Bullock remembers she can use the landing thrusters to
get to the Chinese space station! Yay! She bails, uses a fire extinguisher as a thruster to "land" and get inside.
The Chinese space station has a Shenzhou escape craft (basically a photocopy of the Russian Soyuz). For some reason, however, there isn't anyone on
board the Chinese space station, and it's orbit is decaying. She bails the Soyuz and uses a fire extinguisher as a thruster to "land" and get inside.
Somehow Bullock manages to get the Shenzhou to Earth, and lives.
OK, a few things:
1. Okay, your Space Shuttle is gone, you make it to the ISS to find the last escape pod not able to re-enter. Get inside, use thrusters and get to a
higher orbit. From my research, a Soyuz or Shenzhou could keep a human alive for a week or two.
2. Orbits and distances. Is the ISS/Hubble/Chinese "Space Station" (because to my knowledge it's just a few modules right now) in the same orbit? Are
they even close enough for visual confirmation?
3. Why are there CO2 fire extinguishers in space? I assume they are CO2 because they did not leave residue like Purple K. Everything is modular on
the ISS. Seal the hatches, vent the compartments, problem solved. Using CO2 even on Earth is a risk to the health of people. When I worked in fire &
gas, testing the CO2 suppression systems was a huge deal. We had to evac the entire area so people didn't suffocate. Not really a good solution in
space, unless you can put on a space suit, which brings me to ...
4. The suits. Now, I've seen my fair share of footage of people working on the ISS and Hubble. The tinted shield should have been shown/pulled down at
*some* point in the movie. Nope.
5. Re-entry of the Shenzhou capsule. Okay, so you just can detach from a space station in a decaying orbit without giving any thought to re-entry
angle and hope to survive? That capsule should have burned up in the atmosphere just like MIR. Bullock never course corrected, nor plotted an angle of
6. Finally, why the hell do we not have a "rescue" rocket fueled ready to go at all times at the Cosmodrome and Cape Canaveral? I understand launch
windows and weather, but WTF? How much can it cost to keep a rocket near the the pad ready to launch in a week or two?
Beyond these technical points (which I'm sure will be disputed and torn to shreds by some arm-chair "expert"), I have some qualms.
WHY does the ISS and everything in orbit look ghetto as hell? What is with the exposed umbilical cords/wiring? Why do all the consoles look just like
they did from the Apollo era? Why do we still use arcade machine lighted buttons? My iPhone 5c is more impressive than any of the terminals on both
the Soyuz and Shenzhou. Really NASA? Really Russia?
Look, I get that things have to be durable. I get that things have to survive escape velocity/launch into space. I get 4x redundancy. Really though,
that's the best we can do? How much money are governments claiming they are spending?
We better have ships like this actually in space, like this scene from "Stargate Universe" where Eli Wallace looks out over Earth from a window of the
USS George Hammond:
I'm OK with Apolo-era looking technology -- in the Apollo era.
In closing, if you can afford
to see this movie in IMAX 3-D, it's OK. I personally wouldn't waste $17 for a ticket, thankfully mine was bought
edit on 10-10-2013 by MystikMushroom because: (no reason given)