Gravity (2013)

Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Shariff (Paul Sharma) are space walking and servicing Hubble space telescope. When they are hit by high-speed debris from a destroyed Russian satellite that had started a chain reaction of satellites crashing into each other.

Ryan and Matt survive and are trying to find a way to return. Soon they find themselves in a situation where Matt decides to drift off into space to save Ryan. Now she is the sole survivor and must find a way to return back to the Earth.

The first thing that you notice about the film is great visuals. It’s shockingly  real. The second great thing was sound, or lack of it. The way they played with sound and silence was remarkable.

They got some details very right and some very wrong; the back-and-forth between the two made it really distracting:

  1. Satellites are never so close in space. At least not like the way they show in the film.
  2. Going from one satellite to another is not such a simple thing that one person can do it.

The first thing is a cause which is at the basis of the film; it took some effort to ignore it and buy into the film. But once I was over the first blunder, I was irritated by the second one which kept reminding me of the first.

  • Some wires are burning when Ryan enters the ISS. If my memory hasn’t failed me, the flames that were floating out of it were upward. That can’t happen without gravity; there is no up!
  • Astronauts can’t look directly towards the sun without the radiation shield. You need to put on special shield for all the extra radiation that the Earth’s atmosphere is not protecting you from; and a transparent shield won’t cut it. [1]
  • You can’t put on a space suit and take it off in a jiffy. And you won’t wear sexy short-shorts under it, the sweat and friction inside is not so good. [1]
  • How did Ryan manage to plan her re-entry path and get & maintain the angle of attack is beyond my understanding. This was the most annoying flaw of the film. [2]

If the whole film was based on false premises, I’d take it as science fiction fantasy and might be happy about it. But what really annoyed me was back and forth of brilliancy and flaws:

  • A bolt that you can easily lose and never find it again. It might even come back and blast through you like a bullet.
  • A wire that they kept jerking away and it kept coming back.
  • And the best of all depictions: Ryan was rolling away in the space after the debris hits their station. And there was nothing to stop or nothing she could do about it. The helplessness and disorientation was very well portrayed.
  • After crashing in the sea and reaching the sea-shore, Ryan had trouble standing and walking. That bit almost made my day.

These things were brilliantly done.

The sheer contrast between what was right and wrong kept me distracted. And I think the reason I was noticing all this was because there was not much in the story.

The story, in essence, is nothing more than emotionally unstable Ryan trying to get back to earth. Though it wasn’t boring, and that’s remarkable! But it did give me time to think about everything else that was happening. To add to that, I couldn’t sympathise with the characters. Throughout the film I had a feeling that I don’t know them well enough and they were not real enough to get an emotional response.

However, they handpicked the things they could be wrong about. Most people won’t know the technical flaws and might just enjoy the film.

But it didn’t work for me. It didn’t have any emotional gravity and disappointed the astronomy fanboy in me. In the end I was left with nothing more than a nice visual experience.

The quality of visuals in the film is extraordinary and makes it worth a watch. But don’t expect anything more.

PS: Part of the reason it didn’t hit me because geniuses at PVR IMAX, Lower Parel decided to have an interval in a freaking 90 minute film! And their sound system really needs an upgrade.