Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ground Control to Major Tom . . .

Let's get this out of way early on.  Human beings don't belong in space.  It's harsh, utterly unforgiving, and vastvastvast in terms of size.  Yet we go, which I think is one of humanity's more glowing qualities.  On top of that, while I was a fan of the space shuttle, I'm a little disappointed that we don't have a lunar base by now.

What I'm driving at is - I like space.  And I like space movies.  I like space movies enough to have paid the extra few bucks for a pair of cheap, one-use-only 3D glasses to see Gravity, a movie that tells you very little in the trailer.  And I won't tell you much here, either.

But I'll tell you a little.

As I said, the trailer to Gravity doesn't tell you much - Sandra Bullock's had some sort of accident far above the world and there's nothing she can do (and yes, planet Earth is indeed blue). When I first saw the trailer, I remarked snarkily, "Well, that's gonna be a short movie."  And it is - Gravity comes in at a lean 91 minutes. But oh - what a 91 minutes!  What could have been a standard disaster movie is elevated by Bullock's performance and visual effects that are simply stunning.  While some will nitpick the science or the narrative, phooey on them, I say. (Although they may have a few points, I'll concede.)

It's beautiful. You see exactly how unsuited humans are for the bleak environment of outer space and how smart and brave and brilliant we are for venturing beyond our little marble, while still being sensible enough to be scared about it.

Bullock has said she didn't feel she truly deserved her Oscar for The Blind Side (to be fair, she faced stiff competition that year that included both Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep) and I don't know for sure if she'll be nominated for Gravity.  But if she is (and she should be), she better start drafting her acceptance speech.

There's more - much more - but if I say too much more, I risk major spoilage and that's not fair.  Go see this.  Go see it on the biggest screen you can and then ask your Congressman while NASA is hamstrung by the government shutdown when we could be exploring What's Out There.

By the way, if you don't mind MAJOR spoilers, here is an astronaut's take on the movie.  And here's another.

Oh, and here's a favorite - Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield performing "Major Tom" on the International Space Station.  It's even better than knowing that Serenity DVDs are available up there!

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