[Capturing my Facebook post as a blog post.] Just back from seeing Gravity. It’s quite a ride — spectacular in many ways. Terrific effects, portrayal of people in orbit over Earth, and even the simulated zero-G (or micro-G) movements look great, considering that they filmed it with actors suspended from cables. (This film must have been quite a physical feat for Sandra Bullock. This kind of acting is not easy.)

I do have two qualms. One is the aforementioned convenience of the shuttle and the Hubble space telescope being in the same orbits; more than that, it’s the shuttle and the Hubble and two (or was it three?) space stations all being rather implausibly close together (and in the same orbit as the debris). In fact, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t be half way around the planet from each other, not to mention in different orbital heights and inclinations.

Second — something I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere: George Clooney did not have to let go. In that key scene, he and Sandra Bullock are attached by cable and get tangled up in cables dangling from the ISS. Once tangled, their momentum has stopped, relative to the ISS. It is not, as the film implies, as if George is ‘hanging’ and is about to pull Sandra after him. Once they’re tangled, they’re all in free fall next to the station.

Minor quibbles could address the luck with which Sandra Bullock manages to hit the right buttons. But, it’s that kind of movie.

I am still in the position of wishing that, someday, the technology of modern film making could be harnessed in the service of a truly great story. It hasn’t happened since 2001.

–Update 6Oct13: Phil Plait and Neil deGrasse Tyson have both posted and tweeted about these faults and others. Are we nitpicking and missing the point? Or is this more evidence that people value story over scientific fidelity — a crucial point in the ongoing development of my theme?

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