Monday, October 14, 2013

Cheap Shot Review Of Gravity

My wife and I really, really did enjoy watching Gravity, but several days of non-stop ranting has caused my wife to ban me from talking about it anymore, so I turn to you. After all, the internet is a loving, non-judgmental safe space.

First off, I've read articles seriously saying that Gravity would ignite new interest in space travel. No. That's like saying Jaws would make everyone want a pet shark. Gravity is the last shovel of dirt on the grave of space travel. It's the science fiction equivalent of your parents telling you that, yes, in fact, they really did get divorced because of you.

This will never, ever be you.
But the part that I'm fixated on is how, at some point, they remembered that they needed to give Sandra Bullock's character an actual character, so they saddled her with a dead, young, tragically dead daughter.

(Just a thought. Wouldn't it have been so much better to give her a live daughter, and she couldn't talk to her because of the loss of communications? It would have given Sandra's adventure real stakes. Even better, it would have given her moving conversation with the Chinese ham radio guys an actual point. She could have tried to break the language barrier to tell them to record what she is saying ("Record? Tape?" "Tape!" "Yes! Tape!") so she could send a last message to her child. Again, just a thought. Though I am right.)

But then, when they needed to decide how Bullock's daughter died, and this is the point where I had to ask three people just to make sure I didn't hallucinate it, it turns out that the kid died when she fell down playing tag.

Yes, I'm not kidding. When she said that, I lost a full minute of space suspense thinking, "No, I couldn't have heard that right." I mean, sure, it is technically possible. (Not really. I mean, I've been a parent quite a while now, and it's not like the dead kids are stacked up like cordwood by the side of playgrounds from tag and monkeyshines-related fatalities.) But the point isn't possibility, it's choosing something that doesn't take people out of the moment. Kids get eaten by lions all the time, but if Bullock said that's what happened to her daughter, isn't there at least a chance you would have said, "Say what now?"

And then his spine snapped like the stem of a Waterford crystal wine glass.
So the conversation actually went something like this.

Sandra Bullock: "My daughter died playing tag. Fell down and hit her head. Just one of those things that happens."
George Clooney: "[Laconic Chuck Yaeger imitation.]"
Random Non-White Guy: "Guys, look! A wrench traveling at 20000 miles an hour!" [DIES]

Actually, I would have written something like this:

Sandra Bullock: "My daughter died playing tag. Fell down and hit her head. Just one of those things that happens."
George Clooney: "No. No, it isn't."
Random Non-White Guy: "Wrench!" [DIES]

But my dream version would be something like this:

Sandra Bullock: "My daughter died playing tag. Fell down and hit her head. Just one of those things that happens."
George Clooney: "What? She died playing tag? Who taught kids in Illinois how to play tag? You do know that, when tagging someone, a light-to-medium-firm touch of the fingers is all that is required. You don't use a bat. You don't need to give the other kid a donkey punch in the back of the freakin' head."
Random Non-White Guy: "Wait. What did she say?"
George Clooney: "She says her daughter died playing tag."
Random Non-White Guy: "Seriously!? Where was she playing tag? The Thunderdome!?" [DIES]

Or maybe just:

George Clooney: "So, Ryan, who's waiting for you back home?"
Sandra Bullock: "Um, can this wait until Space isn't trying to kill us?"
Random Non-White Guy: [DIES]

Please, please let me know if I start to overthink this.


  1. Awesome !

    That's actually the kind of things that ruined Prometheus for me.

  2. You've missed the point. If she had a daughter back home, it would have galvanized her to push on to survive at all costs regardless of her circumstance. As it is, she is struggling with the sense of emptiness, the feeling that she is not only alone and dying uselessly against overwhleming adversity, but has nothing to go back to even if she persevered. And the accident of her daughter's death presents the idea that life and the universe is vicarious, uncaring and fleeting. The whole point is Sandra dealing with her loss of hope but by the end, convincing herself to the opposite by finding the will to live again.

    1. Totally agree. The flukey accident is one of the least cliched parts of the character. It's not a death that inspires righteous anger or revenge, or a melodramatic sense of grand tragedy.

      It's a quiet, pathetic accident that highlights the chilling fragility, capricious news, and ultimate loneliness of life. Just like the situation Sandra finds herself in throughout the film.

      It didn't distract me at all. I found it one of the more touching moments in a film that was otherwise light on character development yet desperately needed me to somehow feel an intimacy with the main character

  3. No matter what problems the script may run into, the visuals and overall whole feel of the movie never, ever let you go from its grasp. Nice review Jeff.

  4. also, Gravity, for all of it's apparent 'flaws' was good, while Prometheus was a terrible movie...

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