by Samantha Greene, ’16
Gravity’s nail-biting plot thrills viewers but falls short in regards to logic.
Gravity, while stocked with experienced actors, is comprised of several large plot holes and on-again-off-again graphics that make the viewing more about deconstruction than watching the movie. Clocking in at 91 minutes, the plot did exceed expectations by completely filling the time allotted. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) has been sent into space to attach a new scanning device to the Hubble telescope. Experienced astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) is keeping a watchful eye over her and the mission. They are on a routine spacewalk, until debris from a nearby satellite crashes into their ship. They are left tethered to each other, floating into space, and desperately fighting to return to Earth.
AMC Lennox offered only the 3-D version of Gravity. Being forced to wear the goofy uncomfortable glasses, it was only to be expected that the 3-D would dramatically enhance the viewing experience. Sadly, the 3-D only came into effect on several separate occasions. The most notable were the scenes in which the space debris would crash into whichever ship Stone happened to be on, whether it be the International Space Station or, later, the Chinese Space Station. Otherwise, the 3-D effects made no other appearances.
Even though the plot did set a reasonable pace for itself and filled the time with legitimate events, large holes were continuously punched through the story. Stone, a supposed genius, went through six months of astronaut training before being shot out of the atmosphere. Regardless of the training, she exhibited no knowledge of basic physics or the operation of the escape pods. When a fire erupted on the International Space Station she frantically grabbed the fire extinguisher and sprayed it on the fire. Due to the lack of friction in space, she was immediately shot backwards with the force of the spray and knocked unconscious, mere feet from the flames. It should be basic knowledge and yet she was almost killed because of her lack of knowledge about physics in space. Another plot hole, her inability to operate an escape pod, was prevalent throughout the movie. She continually stated that, regardless of her training, she didn’t know how to fly one even if the instructions were in English. It is confusing how an astronaut with an inability to fly an escape pod would be sent into space knowing she would most likely have to fly one.
However the graphics of a movie turn out, the plot is the most basic element of any movie. Throughout Gravity each “shocking” plot twist was easy to predict, rendering them ineffective. When Stone was trying to escape from the Chinese Space Station in an escape pod she didn’t know how to fly, Kowalsky appeared at the window of the ship, seeming to have survived his float out into space when he became unhooked from the tether holding him to the ISS. Since Stone had shut down the oxygen to commit a painless suicide, Kowalsky told her how to land the escape pod using the reverse thrusters and save her life. She realized Kowalsky’s appearance was only in her imagination but was nevertheless filled with renewed strength and a will to carry on. This event is one that is seen commonly in drama flicks. The main character gives up and is visited by some friend or relative who convinces them to continue on their journey. A cliche, while always classic, is a cliche for a reason.
The plot impressively filled the time allotted. However, due to the scenery, the director did not have many different ideas to work with. Much of the movie portrayed the characters simply floating. This can only be thrilling for the first twenty minutes. After that, regardless of interesting conversation between the characters, it can get to be a little too much floating. The director, Alfonso Cauron, did the best he could with what the plot would allow him to do.
The struggle for Stone to return to Earth is extremely clear in a physical sense; she must go to two different space stations, operate machinery that is unclear to her and sometimes written in only Chinese, and loses Kowalsky. Although, the emotional struggle could have been made more evident. The characters did talk about the loss of Stone’s young daughter after hitting her head on the playground and that emotion is factored into the plot but the fear of falling into space was demonstrated by no more than her heavy breathing for the entirety of the movie.
While the plot and graphics were questionable, the acting done by Bullock and Clooney showcased their talent. They were both able to incorporate some humor in the storyline, which was greatly appreciated by the audience and reminded them why those actors are so beloved. Gravity is for those who simply want to appreciate the acting skills of two veterans of the acting career. If mind-blowing graphics or a rock-solid plot is important to make the movie enjoyable, this movie would not be a wise choice.
Image courtesy Warner Bros.