October 19, 2013

Gravity (2013)

"A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space."

I don't know about you, but the thought of being stranded in space gives me the heebies. The mixture of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and vertigo would drive most people insane, and let's not forget about the possibility of being captured and tortured by aliens! Unfortunately, "Gravity" doesn't go into those areas, so it's not very satisfying for horror or sci-fi fans.

"Gravity" is a disaster movie for science nerds who love movies such as "The Right Stuff" (1983) or "Apollo 13" (1995) and believe that there really are space labs orbiting Earth, Man landed on the moon, and all that other rubbish. It's not another "Event Horizon" (1997), "Mission to Mars" (2000), or even "Armageddon" (1998), except for some very superficial similarities and, of course, being set in space. Thus, if you're expecting something other than a potential Oscar winner, look elsewhere.

To say that I wasn't impressed by "Gravity" is the understatement of the year. I was, by turns, bored out of my mind, nauseated by the shocking waste of money that went into something which the BBC could have filmed for the price of a couple of bags of prawn cocktail crisps back in the days of "Blakes 7", and because it's hard to tell what's going on unless you have some kind of astronautical doctorate degree, I was even more confused by all the confusing things which Sandra Bullock was confused by. Basically, I hated it.

Maybe it's also because I read Ray Bradbury's short sci-fi story "Kaleidoscope"—which everyone claims isn't the inspiration for "Gravity" until they are blue in the face (even though it clearly is!)—when I was a teenager, and it stayed with me. Or maybe it's just because I can't abide movies about astronauts in the first place. Either way, I felt like I'd seen the best and worst parts of it before.

Here come the spoilers!

What a load of Bullocks!

I have no idea how much of "Gravity" is CGI or filmed against a green screen, nor do I care about the smoke and mirrors behind the scenes. The result is very clever, and with such great effects now available, I'm sure we'll get a fake Mars landing from NASA eventually. What I do know is that Sandra Bullock is hot for her age, and her 3D acrobatics look cool, but neither is enough to make any of this movie exciting.

Using the "running out of air" trope is the closest that "Gravity" gets to having any tension, and a couple of dead astronauts provide the only horror. If only Sandra Bullock could've been persuaded to strip completely like Barbarella rather than just down to her t-shirt and underpants like Ripley, it would have perked things up a bit. Alas, this is a PG-13, and she doesn't do anything particularly sexy apart from grunting, groaning and gasping. Okay, so she also barks and howls like a dog at one point, but you have your fetishes and I'll have mine.

What really pissed me off, however, was the lack of scientific accuracy about how things work in space. Not only does the whooshing and swooshing make no sense in a vacuum where sound doesn't carry, the biggest cock-up is that Sandra Bullock could have just given George Clooney a little tug (no, not THAT kind of little tug!), and there would have been no need for his predictable self-sacrifice. I've seen this cliché done to death (quite literally) in American movies so many times that it's guaranteed to make me cringe and grind my teeth in anger now. In this case, it's also a terrible waste of George Clooney!

"Look, Mom, look! A falling star!"

Frustratingly, George Clooney doesn't ever get to finish his Mardi Gras story about the "hairy guy", although I've got a feeling that the punchline would have involved some kind of monkey. I just thought I'd throw that in here because I'm sure everyone else with a normal brain felt cheated by the lack of closure too. I even Googled it to see if it was an old joke by a comedian who I've never heard of, but I couldn't find anything.

Nerds will probably love "Gravity" for the various spaceships with their big boards of switches and flashing lights, but I couldn't make head nor tail of which was which or how they are supposed to work. Apart from the Cyrillic in one and Kanji in another, everything looks the same to me. You also have to laugh at how years of training and millions of tax-payers' dollars are proven to be completely wasted when Sandra Bullock makes her "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" choices. I guess that NASA will be changing their astronaut training program accordingly, unless of course, that is their astronaut training program already. Mind you, it's not as if man (or woman) has ever managed to leave this planet in any way other than a coffin, so it's all bullshit.

My biggest complaint about this whole boring mess, however, is that there are no apes riding horses and catching humans in nets when Sandra Bullock finally gets back to Earth and crawls out of the lake. I'll never understand why they left out that very important detail, but hopefully, it'll be available as an extra on the DVD and Blu-ray later.

The alternative DVD ending.

As far as anything called "Gravity" goes, I still prefer Zlata Ognevich's sexy Eurovision video.

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