The Movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney…

I am sorry folks – I really wanted to like this movie but the short answer of what did I think of the movie is….

It was bad. It was just bad.

As I said in my first tweet about this – I am not sure who liked it less… myself, Ken or the NASA HQ friend of ours who just happened to end up in the same theater at the same time….

Let me preface with a variety of things….

  • I will do my best to not give away too many spoilers. (Honestly I am trying not to give any spoilers but I think by virtue of a few of the things I am saying I may sort of do so….)
  • I will admit I am probably harder on the movie than the average person…
  • If you’ve seen it and you’ve enjoyed it I am glad! Truly! Just because I didn’t doesn’t mean I want you to have had a miserable 2 hour experience….

So how do I make my comments without giving too much away…. or being too Neil Tyson (since someone told me not to go All Neil Tyson on the movie)…. Let’s be clear – I am NOT smart enough to be Neil Tyson so I would actually be honored to be compared to him!! How do I articulate this… bear with me!

Let me start off with if you are going to go and see this you absolutely ought to go see it in 3D. Visually it’s worth the extra money it will cost to see it that way.

To say there were some technical inconsistencies would be a gross understatement. I get it that they can’t get absolutely everything right. (Though that said Apollo 13 did a pretty decent job!) I get that there is some stuff you need to do to enhance the drama. However some of it was just so bad I really couldn’t get passed it no matter how hard I tried. Some of the absolutely basic physics was just WRONG! And we won’t even get into the Orbital Mechanics… and I am not talking difficult Orbital Mechanics I am talking basics… Let’s put it this way – in regards to that it was SO bad that I actually laughed out loud about it during the movie several times. I won’t go into listing all the issues (not sure I could type that much – my hands my fall off) because I will give too much away and I don’t want to go into that much detail… let’s just say they were numerous and apparent.

That said they got some very minor details correct which I was impressed with… The PCS display was pretty accurate, some of the other displays were accurate, the vehicles in general were pretty accurate, the space suit on the outside looks was very close and they had the appropriate timeline (OSTPV – Onboard Short Term Plan Viewer – software that is very near and dear to my heart) on the computer. These are just to name a few – yes there were others including using the right nomenclature for some things. Let me set the stage in the best way I can I think… The first oh I don’t know 10 minutes there’s a conversation going on between the astronauts in space and the ground (don’t worry that fact isn’t giving anything away)… it was SO bad and irritating the way they did it that I thought I was going to have to walk out then. (Talking with Ken about it later he apparently was thinking the same thing.)

Yes many of the visuals were stunning but I tell you what – to get that go see the ISS 3D movie or something like that. You’ll actually get even more stunning views.I get that this movie makes people think about space more than they previously might and while at first blush that seems like a fantastic thing…. I am not sure this movie is a good thing for that and I will explain in a second…

Here’s where I have to make a comment that may give something away about the movie that you don’t want to know…. if that’s the case I suggest you stop reading here and pick-up where I say Spoilers Over in big bold letters.


The reason I am not sure that this movie is a good thing is that it is overwhelmingly a negative movie. I get that it’s the story of one woman’s journey to get back home but set in the context of space it means that absolutely everything in space (ISS, shuttle, HST etc.) is completely destroyed. Why is NASA embracing the message of negative things happening in space when there are so many positive aspects we are failing to promote? I mean at one point the main character says “I HATE SPACE!” Really? This is the message that we the space loving community want people to go see and embrace – the idea that all our foothold in space can be wiped out quickly and it ends in tragic loss of life? Call me an idealist but that’s not how I want to get people talking about space.

Add to that last point the fact that the space shuttle breaks up in orbit and there are lots of pieces of various space vehicles burning up as they come back into the atmosphere and those of us who were part of the space world when Columbia happened have a bit of a hard time with this imagery. It honestly was hard for me to watch at that point – the visuals were just a little too close to something so tragically still a very tender painful memory.


Here’s the bottom line (as if you didn’t already know this) – I just didn’t like it. This does NOT mean I think anyone who does is crazy! (So please don’t get all offended as if I am attacking you personally by disliking this movie.) I can see how cinematically it could be good entertainment. (I can’t tell you how many people I have gotten emails from who really liked it. For you Chivers out there – I don’t think John will mind if I tell you that he absolutely loved it.)

Cinematically they did a good job with keeping you on the edge of your seat. I will admit there were a few times they had done such a great job of creating drama and suspense that even I was on the edge of my seat hoping they came through (no matter how scientifically illogical the premise was of that given instance) so in that aspect they did a good job.

What I would like to see is another space movie – this time one that highlights the positives… Maybe it’s time for me to start writing that script….

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