Sunday, October 20, 2013

Movie Review: "Gravity"

This weekend, I went to see the movie "Gravity" in 3D.

I saw the trailer for the movie & read the rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I love anything related to outer space, so I definitely wanted to see it. I'm glad that I did, because it was an awesome movie that's as close as most of us will ever get to the experience of being an astronaut. Basically, the story follows Bullock's character, as she is separated from the space shuttle and must keep finding her way to temporary safety while in space.

From the very beginning, the cinematography is amazing. The movie opens with a beautiful vista of our home planet, Earth, that fills the movie screen. A white speck comes into view orbiting the planet, that slowly pans into the space shuttle on which the astronauts, played by Sandra Bullock & George Clooney, are working. This beautifully gradual zoom is the first scene in a movie full of awesome camera work, effects, & editing, The scenes alternately go between the wide, empty vacuousness of outer space, & the up-close, personal situations of the astronauts. There are points where you even get a 1st person view from Sandra Bullock's perspective, such as looking out from inside her helmet as she's taking it off. However, all these viewpoints flow together seamlessly into a very suspenseful virtual ride in Earth's orbit.

The movie does an excellent job at making the viewer feel the crushing isolation that one must feel in the vast emptiness of space. It also shows how physically vulnerable we human beings are out there, without the help of our technology and intelligence.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has famously criticized some of the scientific inaccuracies in Gravity. However, he also said there was a lot that was right with the movie & that he enjoyed it. I'm pretty well-informed about science, so there were a few pretty big errors that I saw during the movie. For instance, the distance between the different country's space stations are probably much farther apart then they are portrayed. Also, there's simply no way any human being could endure the craziness & physical punishment that Sandra Bullock's character had to go through. Despite my inevitable criticisms, these pale in comparison to the experience of being in space that "Gravity" simulates.

I've posted here before about mankind's destiny to travel among the stars. This movie reveals how pathetically little we've truly adapted to life in space. We have barely transitioned to surviving just outside our atmosphere. We literally have light-years to go before we are ready for extensive space travel, even within our own galaxy.

There are also deep themes of rebirth & transformation throughout the film, such as scenes of Bullock in a fetal position inside a womb-like space capsule. She also emerges from water in a baptismal scene where she can be said to be re-born. Like the classic "2001: A Space Odyssey," these scenes could also allude to the transformation of humanity, into a new being that exists beyond the confines of our current world.

"Gravity" was an awe-inspiring movie that helps put our feeble, yet miraculous, lives into a much wider perspective. I recommend it for anyone who loves science, astronauts, or just a great thrill ride through the deadly darkness of outer space.

Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 8.0

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