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Gravity special effects upstage factual errors made throughout film

Submitted by Jayme Goad on March 4, 2014 – 10:23 pmNo Comment

Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” is an intense, contemporary scientific-thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat the entire movie. But does the science behind the movie add up?

Immediately into the first scene of the movie, the main characters are doing a spacewalk. Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, is an intellectual medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. She is accompanied by a veteran astronaut with a lot of experience, Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney.

What seems like a regular routine spacewalk is the least bit normal. Within minutes while doing repairs on the Hubble Space Telescope, disaster strikes. Houston explains to them that debris from a Russian missile strike has blown up and caused a chain reaction. Moments later, debris is flying right at them causing them to lose any contact with Mission Control.

The debris strikes the shuttle and makes it spin repeatedly out of control. This causes Stone to be thrown and has to release her belt perpetually throwing her into the dark abyss. Kowalski, wearing a thruster, shows up and attaches Stone and they float back to the station. When they arrive, they realize they are the only survivors. Their crew has been killed on impact of the debris. They must now make their way to the International Space Station. Using Kowalski’s jet thruster, they set out for the ISS. Kowalski has determined they have 90 minutes before the field of debris completes orbit and crosses their path again.

Once they approach the ISS, they realize it is abandoned and the crew has evacuated it leaving it virtually unusable. Stone’s leg gets caught in the deployed parachute lines. With the momentum of Kowalski, he realizes it is too much and it will carry them both out into space. He lets go of the rope tether and floats out into space. Now Stone is alone and left to survive on her own.

There are several scientific matters that do not add up in the film. Every satellite and space station in the movie is bombarded by debris, destroying them as if they were all a part of the same orbit. The Hubble and ISS are not in the same orbit. One satellite exploding wouldn’t cause a chain reaction of debris. It’s space; there is a lot of room, so much that it is unfathomable. One of the first lines of the movie was that there is no sound is space. You actually hear the wrench that Stone is using making a clanking sound later in the film. Against the laws of physics, this film held so many errors with the views of Earth they showed, which are not as easy to identify as they appeared.

In addition to the scientific flaws, the movie script was poorly written. You have Bullock, who played an amazing, independent engineering doctor, but it seemed as if most of her lines were more of an ad-lib. Having more characters – there are virtually two characters in the entire film- would have helped the film tremendously. .

The special effects in this movie were the best I have ever seen: incredible views from outer space looking down to Earth (even if some weren’t as accurate), and the sunrise from space was incredible.

The film just missed getting the Academy Award for “Best Picture” — it lost out to “12 Years a Slave” — but, it has just been released on Blu-ray and DVD. Some of the special features on the discs include “making of” documentaries, alternate viewing experiences and features on all of the actual technology and existing equipment that was featured in the film. All of these features and bonus offerings are worth enough to give the film another look.

Everyone is awaiting to see what Director Alfonso Cuarón will be doing next.

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