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September 3rd, 2014

Gravity **

Life is impossible in space.

 

With these words, writer/director Alfonso Cuaron begins “Gravity.” Then he spends 90 minutes trying – unsuccessfully – to prove it.

 

The argument that space travel is foolhardy might make more sense to younger viewers. To kids, space is something that Americans visit in movies and video games – not real life.

 

To older folks, space exploration feels a lot more real. The Space Race between the USA and the USSR captured the imagination of a generation.

 

The primary reason that the American government invested so much in the Space Race was because they wanted to advance our military capability.

 

Cleverly, the government put a little spin on it. They didn’t say: “Join NASA and help us learn how to use rocket technology to shoot nuclear warheads across the world so we can kill tens of millions of Soviets!”

 

Instead, they said: “Join NASA for science and adventure and national pride and stuff!”

 

Thanks to a job well done by NASA, the US now has the ability to easily blow up as many people as we want. But we can no longer pay our bills. That’s why we don’t send people into space anymore.

 

Also, it’s super dangerous. I respect that some people are daredevils by nature. But, come on, aren’t motorcycles and snowmobiles dangerous enough? You can find perfectly good ways to recklessly tempt death without actually leaving the planet.

 

In “Gravity,” George Clooney and Sandra Bullock play astronauts who are on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. While out on a space walk, something goes wrong and they are sent careening off into empty space with no way to get home.

 

My first problem with “Gravity” is that it basically tells the same story as the David Bowie song “Space Oddity,” only it takes 84 more minutes to tell it.

 

My second problem with “Gravity” is that it doesn’t follow through on its promise to show how horribly dangerous and unnatural it is for humans to be in outer space.

 

[Spoiler Alert] The proper ending – the only reasonable ending – would have been for both Clooney and Bullock to perish. The real ending is painfully unrealistic and it undercuts the message of the movie.

 

I believe that humans do not belong in space. But I certainly wasn’t convinced by “Gravity.” The film is amazing to look at, but it fails as a drama.

 

 

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