Sunday, March 2, 2014


First, I have to say I'm very glad I didn't watch this one in a big theater in 3-D.  It was scary enough on my flat screen HD.

Gravity, for those of you who don't know, is the story of astronauts marooned in space after a bad accident.  It's also the story of a courageous man and an insecure woman who finds her inner warrior in the face of devastating adversity.

George Clooney plays the mission commander/pilot.  Sandra Bullock plays the science officer - with little training on how to fly.  She mentions a couple of times that when she had to be in the simulator at NASA, she invariably crashed in the simulation.  Uh oh...Right?

Though there is another actor in one scene, the rest of the characters we see are already dead, some spectacularly so.

Ed Harris is a voice-only actor in this one as the voice of NASA Mission Control.  Otherwise, it's just Clooney and Bullock...well, later on it's all Bullock, alone with the radio.

You see, the Chinese have apparently blown up one of their own satellites without warning for reasons known only to them.  The imprudent action creates a "cloud" of space debris that grows as it hurtles through space, crashing into other nations' satellites and vessels.

Though warned to scrub their space walk to repair a problem, Bullock, Clooney, and crew are caught outside when the debris field comes their way. It destroys their shuttle and kills one of the crew.  Bullock and Clooney are ultimately left tethered together and floating aimlessly in space.

The debris field is an equal opportunity destroyer, taking out communication satellites as well as all others in its path.  Mission Control warns Bullock and Clooney that their communication might stop at any time.  And they are correct.  So that leaves Bullock and Clooney tethered together and floating in space with only each other for company.

I don't know if any of you remember the old space film "Marooned", but this film has it beat.  I mean these folks are truly alone in space for a while.

Clooney's character, after learning the lack of training that his compatriot has, gives her a lecture on what she should do.  They're running out of oxygen.  So after he makes certain that Ryan (Bullock's character) has a "crash course" (sorry about the pun, I couldn't help it!) in survival 101, he heroically unhooks the tether and floats away.

Ryan panics big time at that point, but her survival instinct does kick into gear.  She maneuvers to a Russian ship and manages to get inside the capsule.  The atmosphere is compromised and the oxygen appears to be leaching out.  It is terribly cold inside the damaged capsule.

Fortunately, the radio works, but the only person who responds to her is a Japanese man about to put his child to bed.  (reality check - why's he on the radio?) As he sings a lullaby to his little one, Ryan reclines in the seat, takes off her helmet and prepares to "go to sleep" - basically give up and die.  Ryan says there's no one to mourn her, no one to say a prayer over her.

But, at the last minute, she is saved in a most unorthodox way.  No, I won't spoil the story for you.

Anyhow, she gets the Russian capsule moving and travels the 100 miles or so to the abandoned Chinese space station.  Dodging the flying debris yet again, she manages to make her way to the capsule for a trip back to Earth.

Of course when she gets in there, all of the controls are labelled in Chinese...Imagine that?!  But she figures them out with illustrations from their technical manuals and after several attempts.  Ryan gets underway and is headed for Earth.

She keeps trying the radio and finally hears the voice of NASA Mission Control.  They are trying to plot her location to pick her up after splash down. (aka landing)

Ryan has a harrowing re-entry and splash down (get real, the whole movie is harrowing.)  That sequence alone makes me know I was not meant for the current mode of space travel.  I've been known to have unfortunate gastric results from a bumpy plane flight.  Now if they had a transporter and could just beam me where I need to be, that would be different.  There's not enough Dramamine in the world for me to do it otherwise.

This film mostly belongs to Sandra Bullock.  It was shot in zero G (simulated, I think, but who knows?)  Ms. Bullock does an excellent job in the role.  Her character grows from an insecure scientist (think geek) to a formidable survivor.  The part calls for a full range of emotions which Ms. Bullock amply supplies.

Plus, she deserves huge kudos for performing while free floating in space, in the capsule, in the space station, etc.

Although bits of the story push the outer envelope of believability, Ms. Bullock's performance does not. Though I have not seen the other nominees for Best Actress in their films, I can safely say Ms. Bullock's performance is the most commanding of them all.  It is her movie and it rides almost solely on her performance.

Brava Ms. Bullock for an excellent and heart-felt performance.

And bravo to talented director Alfonso Cuaron for the motion picture.

Check out this great film.  But if you have a big screen TV, have plenty of ginger ale and saltines on hand.

Take care and keep warm and safe if you're in the 2/3 of our country still suffering from winter.

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