Friday, 12 September 2014

film review: Gravity

Some argue this is science fiction (it is a few years in the future, after the launch of the Chinese space station Tiangong, and it won the 2014 Hugo Science Fiction award). Some argue that it is merely a techno-thriller. I argue that it demonstrates we are living in a science fictional world.

Dr Ryan Stone [Sandra Bullock] is a mission specialist aboard the shuttle Explorer, performing a repair on a Hubble instrument. The Russians blow up one of their old satellites, which causes a chain reaction of debris. This slams into the astronauts, and Stone is flung into space. She is rescued by mission commander Matt Kowalski [George Clooney], but that is only the beginning of their problems as they struggle to find safety.

This is slam bang high tech action. The special effects are great, with a real feeling of free fall in agoraphobic outer space and claustrophobic space stations. There are clever camera shots, that move from outside to inside Stone’s space suit helmet. And brilliantly, there is no sound in space, which adds to the terror. The cast is microscopic: 2 on-screen actors and 5 other voices in the whole film. This adds to the claustrophobia, and the focus.

What I love about Gravity, in addition to the realistic portrayal of near earth orbit, is the portrayal of Stone, as someone terrified by what’s happening to her, yet using her competence and training to excellent effect to save herself, because no-one else can.

 Superior stuff.

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