Friday, February 28, 2014

Gravitationally Questionable


So... I just went to see Gravity.  I wanted to catch it before the Oscars because I love seeing all the big Oscar pics.  I'd heard all manner of great things about this film.  People told me they were wowed.  I found myself... nonplussed.  I'm not going to do a full Fix-It Friday for this one because... well, I'm not gonna say it's beyond help, but... let's just say smarter folk than I have already debunked some of the major scientific wobbles.  (Neil DeGrasse Tyson also had a lovely list on Twitter entitled "Mysteries of #Gravity"). 

There are some movies that I feel are laws-of-physics optional.  Die Hard.  True Lies.  Basically the whole action genre.  But if you're making a drama about astronauts and you want me to feel all the feels, then you need a little believability, folks. Or at least a passing familiarity with the basic rules of physics.  

Like say if George Clooney has come to a stop (relatively speaking, as they are both still orbiting the earth), holding the other end of Sandra Bullock's tether, he is a body at rest.  A body at rest with no other forces acting on it will remain at rest. So in the absence of gravity, how is he "dragging" her?  And how, when he releases the line, still at rest, mind you, with zero relative momentum, does he then go catapulting with substantial velocity away from her? 

There were other unbelievable physical feats - satellite debris and orbits behaving in wildly unbelievable ways (but nice of them to be on a reliable ninety minute clock). Astronauts traversing distances that stretch the bounds of believability... you name it, but the basic lack of understanding regarding force and momentum was pretty damn egregious to me.  Especially when it results in the completely unnecessary death of one of the characters. 

Some aspects were beautifully detailed and they'd clearly done their homework, so why couldn't they catch some of these jaw-droppingly obvious errors?

If you're making Star Wars, okay, fine, I'll give you some leeway (maybe some dude is using the Force), but Gravity? Please. Get a freaking consultant. Hire Tom Hanks. He knows a ton about space.

Excuse me while I go watch Apollo 13.

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