Ruminations on Gravity

I meant to blog about the movie Gravity right after seeing it. Unfortunately, a couple weeks have gone by and details have slipped away. But perhaps that’s for the better. Now I can focus on what stuck with me the most.

First of all, this movie is visually beautiful. The moviemakers took their time during the initial minutes to show you just how magnificent the Earth looks from above and what the stars look like without the interference of a smog-filled, light-polluted atmosphere. At one point, my daughter asked, “Do the stars really look like that?”

Yes, I’m pretty sure they do.

But is that reason enough to encourage my kid to jettison off into space? The remaining hour and fifteen minutes of the movie suggest maybe not. Because when things go wrong in space, they can go wrong in a big way.

And things go very wrong indeed. No sooner did I grow attached to astronaut Mike Kowalski and mission specialist Ryan Stone than a catastrophic event set off a domino chain of disasters that carried me through to the end. Between the action, suspense, and wonder at the amazing zero-grav special effects, it was hard to find a moment when it was safe to blink. Don’t even think about taking a pee or popcorn break.

Like the environment in which Gravity is set, the plot is stark. Stripped down. There were few characters with minimal backstory and minimal dialogue. This resulted in an intense focus on the circumstances, a chance to immerse yourself in the characters’ plight with no distractions. Indeed, I found the backstory dump for Bullock’s character to be a nuisance, contrived to generate audience empathy when the situation alone might have sufficed. (Perhaps the writing/execution was at fault here. I dunno. I don’t make movies.)

This was a short movie, clocking in around 90 minutes. But I’d much, MUCH rather have a short movie where every moment counts than have it stuffed with filler and fluff, dragging it out until I really do need that potty break.

***UPDATE: SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS***

**Note: Those of you who read my last review may be surprised that I saw Gravity in 3D in an IMAX. I am the ever-hopeful sort. I’m pleased to tell you that Gravity is spectacular on the super-big screen and 3D actually enhances the experience.

**Another note: WordPress is now including ads to help cover their costs. I don’t blame them. I appreciate the free blogsite. However, I do not endorse products appearing in ads on this page. I don’t necessarily even know what the products are. You are on your own.

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About Marie Loughin

I love reading, writing, and editing speculative fiction of all sorts. My current focus is on writing contemporary fantasy, where I get to play god with characters from myth and legend. My Norse-based urban fantasy, Valknut: The Binding, is available at Kindle Books and other e-book retailers. You can find me at my blog (marieloughin.com) and on Twitter (@mmloughin).
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3 Responses to Ruminations on Gravity

  1. juliabarrett says:

    I agree – length is not a factor I take into consideration. I prefer a shorter, more spare movie without extraneous fluff.

  2. Robert says:

    Appreciated your comments and agreed totally. Great observation about her maudlin back story. I reacted the same way you did to the intensity and the focused story. Scott’s son Sean doubted it could be that good if it was just about someone trying to get back to earth. He hadn’t seen it. An acquaintance here had seen it and said, “I was thinking, is it just about her and how she tries to get back?! George Clooney wasn’t even really in it that much.”
    I thought it was a great movie, skillfully structured and immediate in its effects.
    I appreciate having your considered evaluation of the movie. Thanks–

    • The main reason to give Bullock’s character this maudlin backstory is to intensify the ending. Essentially, she is reborn. However, they could have been less heavy handed about it. Let her acting (and maybe a photo of the kid) carry her angst rather than somewhat awkward dialogue. But this was a relatively minor problem when everything else was fairly awesome.

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