Gravity : (Cuaron 2013 ) fiction cinema.

If you are planning to see the space thriller gravity, make sure you watch it in IMAX 3d.That is probably the only way you will find science in the film, because once you take out the earthscapes and the authenticity related science(water floats like so in space, people spin like so….)the film really might well be about a stalker and Sandra Bullock alone in a big house with a cleaving knife. Is it too much to expect that a science fiction movie will have some serious science in it?

Let me back up for a bit..There are two broad kinds of science fiction ,to my mind. One is the Asimov variety, where you let go of all your current frame of reference and enjoy thestory as pure fantasy. it could equally be about kings and queens in the past as it could about the future and rocket ships. This can broadly be called fantasy. The other is science fiction I call the Arthur C Clarke variety, where the science in the fiction has almost rational extrapolation from today’s science. so , if there is , say a ship flying at faster than light speeds, the fiction explains the science behind the  reason why the ship can fly faster than light. Readers learn a little bit of today;s science and method , if they are in the mood to.


Clarke                                                                 Cuaron

In other words, curiosity is rewarded with information. In liberal arts (such as literary criticism) this is also called insight,  except that instead of intuiting the insight as a flash of a vision that occurs like magic , from human or extraterrestrial sources, there is scientific basis to observed scenes/events.

PURE science fiction film is few and far between , although some of Speilberg’s and sometimes (surprisingly) Lucas’s films have a smattering  almost as an introductory backgrounder to all that stuff that blows up later in the film.  The other filmmaker who consistently impresses me with his science in the science fiction is the fantasy disaster filmmaker  Roland Emmerich whose storytelling is filled with visuals that make for insightful science …and some dry social comment…. but I diagress.

Ordinarily, out of Science fiction cinema, if a filmmaker hits two out of the three (in this case fiction and cinema) that would make me declare a success of the film.  But not here. The lack of science given the overwhelming presence of scientific gee whiz in its visuals and set up leaves Gravity a cinematic document lacking scientific weight to hold it down. Lacking this , the film comes across as a souffle of a crowd pleaser IMAX film where authentically stunning visuals and some genuinely well written cinematic scenes lack a radiating core of energy.

So when you go in expecting 2001: A space odyssey, you see a toned down version of James Cameron’s Alien (Bullock is even a toned down version of Sarandon)  , the terror a toned down version of the terror you feel when you are alone in space with an alien.

Why am I evaluating the film as fantasy and not science fiction? lack of scientific depth to the narration. It is too concerned with manipulating its audience ‘s emotions and does so masterfully, but in the process it glosses over the science of EVERYTHING in the film. Sandra Bullock handles a tool in space. How does it work? how does it fasten to her space suit? she runs out of oxygen. what is the mechanism that keeps the oxygen running in her suit? Clooney flies with a jetpack.what IS this jetpack and what principles does it work on? Once bullock is in side the escape capsules (both the russian and the chinese one) there is NO science, she might well be flying a car…and complaining that the Japanese model has signs in Japanese. And even thoughthere is panic, the effects of tumbling in space which is (reportedly) a terror of falling without direction that overtakes your senses and gives you physiological symptoms similar to nitrogen sickensss underwater are not shown…The film glibs its way back to a boring old “woman alone facing death” format, which will probably fetch warner brothers the 150 million US(350 million international) gross they are looking for , but not because they made a good film….because they made an UNUSUAL film with pretend science.

Perhaps if it were set anywhere on earth , I wouldn’t have been so disappointed with the film’s lack of science. Maybe it’s me.

Gravity: Lacks specific gravity.


About rameshram

Name : Ramesh Ram... Email Address : (don't even ask) Blog: (never updated) Height/ Weight: 6'1 175 (varies between 160 and 185) Color of hair/ eyes black/ brown Bald? Nope (not yet, but give me 20 years.) Interests: Film (Bollywood/international indie), Travel (Germany/Japan/Central America/Sout/east/west Asia/ Northern Africa), Gizmo geek, Clubbing... What do I like in a good movie?: Women, Music, Auters, Special effects, Style. What do I like in a bad movie?: Women, Music, Auters, Special effects, Style. Favorite Critic: International: Bazin Domestic: J Hobermann Indian : me. (noone else comes close ...India or here..) Best quality: Humility. Outspokenness. Warmth Worst quality: Intolerence Favorite color : Yellow Black Blue Favorite Perfume : men: Grey Flannel(Geoffery Beene) Women: Celine dion: Obsession Boxers / briefs : Boxers Did I inhale: And how! Author: Marquiz, Rushdie, Murakami, Jong Last Book: The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt Music : Patricia Kass, Alejandro Sanz,Nina Simone, Amir Diab Sports person: What am I usually in : White briefs and tees. Chianti or Burgandy: Chianti Food: French Japanese(street/fast food). Saw and liked: No Country for old men, Lust Caution Saw and disliked: Nishabd Didnt see: Aaja Nach le. Call me: Write me first.
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13 Responses to Gravity : (Cuaron 2013 ) fiction cinema.

  1. Dave says:

    You are ripping a FICTIONAL film set 20 YEARS AGO because it doesn’t pander to you and EXPLAIN every. single. thing?
    it’s a 91 minute survival story, not a damn science lesson or documentary.
    It really seems like you went to this film for all the wrong reasons.
    A movie like Avengers must have been bewildering to you – “They never explained the science of how the HULK works, or the science behind the wormhole”.
    you are entitled to your opinion but this review makes you sound like a pedant.
    Deleting this blog link for being a complete waste of time.

    • rameshram says:

      It is like some fanboys never read my review!

      Where have I asked for “explainations” and did my categorization of science fiction and fantasy not register through all the voices telling you that my bloglink was a waste of time?!

      I was knocking the film FOR being “just”a 90 minute survival story, because I was expecting more science in it…although you (or anyone else ) is entitled to be satisfied with”just” a “woman alone against a serial killer” formula in your hollywood films…I guess. like I said, it could be me…..

      ( there was no “russian” and “chinese” space station 20 years ago….see what I did there?)

      • rameshram says:

        sorry for a follow up post here.

        But I must address the ginoromous misconception about science and fantasy again…

        A film like gravity has a value prop that sells the wonders of SCIENCE, unlike (say) the avengers or the fantastic five which have a value prop where they are selling the marvels of TECH (often exaggerated weapons tech against fantastically large sized threats).

        SO it seems to me if the SCIENCE( the value prop of the film) is either spurious or (more likely in this film) unexplained and glossed over, it feels like they are selling snake oil in the name of science.

        I felt like screaming out ” if you were ACTUALLY in space, you would have died a thousand times from all the glossed over (but still important) details being ABSENT or PLAIN WRONG,”

        Why didn’t they just plaster a home in montana with space wallpapers and have someone stalk sandra bullock, instead? same thing no?

  2. Dave says:

    I think you still don’t get it.
    The movie was NEVER sold as a science film. It has ALWAYS been marketed as a tragedy in space, a life in peril story with a race to get back home.
    It’s a classic Hollywood theme set in the extremes of space – realized like never before.
    ONLY YOU seem to think that this film should have more science. Just because it is set in space does not mean it is a documentary. I’ve seen every trailer – not once did they use science as a selling point. NOT ONCE.
    No Jargon, no implication that science was critical to the film in any way.

    And no, there were no Russian Stations or Chinese stations 20 years ago – IT IS FICTION. In fact, There is only One Tiangong module in space as of today, Oct. 7, 2013. We also haven’t used MMU’s for almost 20 years, have retired all the shuttles, etc. Does that make it a bad film?
    Does that diminish the film or it’s story of survival?
    Do we need Dr. Stone to narrate every thing she does in the film so as to make sure we get the science right? NO!
    It is a film, a movie, a piece of fiction.
    You still seem to hold this film to a higher standard because you misunderstood the kind of film you were going to see and now you criticize it for not being the film you WISH it was.

    • rameshram says:

      Oh I’m entitled to misunderstand it for whatever I want to misunderstand it for. I’m the audience, not a marketer for the film.

      And yes I’m holding the film to a higher standard. It held out to me to be more than just Classic Hollywood thriller fare and I intend to collect on that count.

      “Just because it’s set in space” etc…

      Sure it does. Are you shitting me?! This film is somewhat a different proposition from the Enders game… Or Star Wars…both of which are set in space. Want to think about why this might be so?

      I am not diminishing the thriller part of the film. I’m putting it in its place. If I expected science to drive a film, and went and found that the Hollywood thriller angle filled in for the absent science -myth which is DIFFERENT than a documentary- I will bloody well complain no? I am pretty sure I’m not projecting the film I want to make onto the film they , incidentally put out there for me to see. while you may be correct about their marketing the film as a “hollywood thriller” or not I don’t care…. I am talking not about how the film was MARKETED, but about how the film was MADE. the problem is with the product. I think the promotion has no choice….given this product, to sell it as a thriller, not as a science fiction film

      Wash that cheerleader outfit sometime. 😀

    • rameshram says:

      They should have named the mother fugger ‘acid trip’ that woulda been a more honest depiction of what the film felt like.

  3. James Cameron made Aliens, not Alien, and Susan Sarandon wasn’t in either of them.

  4. *tha says:

    and no onaaiyum aatukutiyum?just curious about the films u choose to review. gravity wasnt a great movie . it was a great experience and thats it for me.

    • rameshram says:

      I haven’t seen oonayium aatukkuttium.

      and *tha, I am not inspired to project the greatness of any *cinema* (eg: tamil cinema..french cinema…korean cinema…) or to burnish the biodata of any filmmaker these days. They have plenty of salary paid velaikkaris to do that for them…

      I review films (and nowadays exclusively on my blog) when I think my voice will make a difference in this the world.

      • *tha says:

        ennapa indha maadhiri sollita? that was not my motive.i am a big fan of your writing . and i thought onaiyyum aatukkutiyum was a great experience. i was just curious. no hard feelings machi

      • rameshram says:

        none. 🙂

  5. Vickie says:

    You weren’t the only one. The “Science Lite” aspect bothered a lot of us.

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