Helaine and I joined my cousins Michael, Melissa and Max at the movies tonight. We saw Gravity in 3D on the Imax screen and digital projector at the Irvine Spectrum’s 21 screen theater. I considered taking Dramamine before we left the house!
If you’ve seen Gravity’s trailer or commercials you know there’s an accident in space. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are flung around as their space shuttle disintegrates around them. Like a Steven Segal/Bruce Willis/Sylvester Stallone movie, both remain unscathed while the world around them is blasted to smithereens¹.
There’s been a great deal of talk about the scientific liberties taken within the movie. It’s a movie. I was willing to suspend believe.
However, much of the dialog, especially early on, just didn’t ring true. Mission control explained the impending doom to Clooney and Bullock as if they were speaking to a theater full space-naive people, not astronauts.
That being said, the movie was intense. The action seemed real. Even in the microgravity of near Earth orbit mass is mass. A human slamming into a giant metal structure is going to get just as banged up in space as on the ground.
In Apollo 13 director Ron Howard simulated microgravity by shooting scenes on the ‘Vomit Comet.’ Clooney and Bullock claim everything in Gravity was done on-the-ground (or reasonably near it). I have no idea how the effects were achieved. I’m impressed.
Before the movie, as we sat through 15 minutes of trailers, one came on in 3D. The action was shot with long, fast lenses producing very shallow depth-of-field. It looked artificial. Jarring.
In Gravity the 3D never got in the way. It seemed organic. However, since 3D imagery can move action off-the-screen toward you, the close-ups were really close! Really, really close, especially on the gigantic Imax screen.
I was glad I went. I enjoyed the movie. But it was much more flawed than I anticipated. Sparkling reviews got my hopes too high.
¹ – I don’t think I’ve ever type smithereens before. I’ll try and not let it happen again.