Warner Bros. has been teasing Gravity, a space thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts aboard the fictional space shuttle Explorer (1)Shuttle Explorer is actually not that fictional; it’s is a full-sized mockup shuttle currently on display at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Its use in the film is a nice nod to the Shuttle program performing an EVA on what appears to be the Hubble Space Telescope. Things are going fairly nominally, until this happens:
In one continuous take, just about everything that could possibly go wrong during an EVA does so in spectacular, and dare I say it, realistic fashion. Now there’s a few nitpicks I could make, not the least of which is how something like this could happen in the first place, but I’ll reserve judgement until after I’ve seen the film. In the meantime…I can’t wait to see this film! For several reasons.
For one thing, I noticed that there was a substantial lack of sound effects and any whoosh or clanging noises were kept to a minimum. The music fills in the rest to add drama, but I don’t think either of those are necessary when all hell is breaking loose up there. Still, it’s nice to see that director Alfonso Cuarón seems to trust us, the audience, to know that the only sounds you will hear in space are those of the radio and your breath.
I’m also very happy that Cuarón has a female as one of the lead characters, even though he supposedly got some grief from studio types in Hollywood about it. Evidently, Hollywood thinks that SF heroes must be male and girls are only there as eye candy. Don’t agree? Go see Pacific Rim.
It’s astonishing that there even has to be a conversation about the idea of female leads in a space film, even though we’ve had female astronauts who perform real-life EVAs and command space shuttles.
In any event, the film clearly seems aimed at being an otherwise realistic portrayal of a nightmare scenario in space. I’m looking forward to this and may even catch this one in IMAX 3-D if it helps put me out in space with the characters. At least I’ll be able to return to Earth afterward.
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