I reviewed Gravity last week and loved it, but of course the only thing *I* know about rockets is the red one that comes out when I jerk off my dog. It seemed pretty realistic to me, but then what the hell do I know? So I went ahead and asked a real-life former NASA contractor to see it and provide us all with the unique perspective of someone who knows something for a change. He said something about not technically being a “rocket scientist,” but whatever, too late to change the headline now, dickhead.
Vince Mancini (aka @FilmDrunk) asked me to write a piece on the new movie Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I knew I was underqualified and would probably be a terrible writer even though run my own site that is terrible at ThrowTheFlagBlog.com as @NAWTADIGM, but fortunately I majored in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Florida and then went on to be a NASA contractor for about four years. Not many people know how NASA operates. People think they do but most people have absolutely no clue. By the way, nothing I say on here or anywhere represents the views of my past or current employers, NASA, or the United States Government. I’m going to pick apart this movie like crazy, but know that I liked it. Also, there obviously will be spoilers.
I think we should start with my background. It’s always been a joke that I’ve considered myself a rocket scientist because in all reality, I’m not really one. I worked on all of the ground systems that get everything into space. I had to understand how components would work in space but I wasn’t the guy designing the engine. I was the guy at Kennedy Space Center talking to some guy in Alabama at Marshall Space Flight Center about some umbilical not matching or some interface. I was doing Systems Engineering which is usually really boring. I know enough about ground operations but in-space operations are something I’m only moderately proficient in. Feel free to make fun of me in the comments for that. Think of me as Jesse Pinkman to a Walter White in outer space with no meth production.
I made my way into the local theater where some teenage girls wanted to talk the whole movie till I told them what every Masshole would. The movie opens in an alternate timeline in which the Space Shuttle Program has continued and was never retired. They even mention how they are on flight STS-157 (I believe the last Space Transportation System ended at 135) and they are on the Space Shuttle Explorer (This doesn’t exist in real life). They are working on the Hubble Telescope, which is funny because there were several missions to fix that thing that just never worked. Some technical adviser is a genius for putting that in there. Sandra Bullock (Dr. Ryan Stone) is that woman who lost her daughter and put all of her life into her work. She explains that she was trained to be an Astronaut in six months including holidays. This would be absolute BS if it wasn’t hinted that her work is putting some spy satellite technology in the Hubble which would be used for some dark purpose. Kowalski keeps asking Dr. Stone how she only managed to get through 6 months of training to come to the Hubble. He knows the explanation is definitely military and top secret but he is trying to get her to say it.
George Clooney (Matt Kowalski) represents everything that is an Astronaut to me. These guys are BAD ASS. They’re crazy but not stupid. You don’t get paid much for being an Astronaut. It’s good but it’s not great. These guys were housed in the building I used to work in. One day I’d be enjoying Taco Tuesday at the cafeteria at the Space Station Processing Facility and BAM, an Astronaut would sit down with a plate of tacos too. These guys are trained to know every procedure backwards and forwards. Go watch The Right Stuff. So Clooney’s character is the type of guy who got crazy at Mardi Gras and still can run a 4.3 40 yard dash. They’re truly super human. In the beginning of the movie, he’s just floating around which his jet pack on talking about nothing while Dr. Stone is fixing the Hubble Telescope. It sounded like Ed Harris was on the communication system in Houston, Texas. He actually tells Dr. Stone she’s proven the NASA engineers wrong. Trust me. Most of them aren’t that smart (they are exceptions though). Right before Dr. Stone and Kowalski can finish the installation it’s reported that they need to abort the mission. Dr. Stone doesn’t listen. They almost make it back to the orbiter (aka Space Shuttle) and it appears some Russian satellites have started a chain reaction that will rain space junk all over space. In Kowalski’s words “Half of North America just lost Facebook.” Dr. Stone is attached to Canada’s arm (yes, it’s made in Canada) and goes flying off into space where we have Dr. Stone rotating 3 dimensionally in a fury. She is absolutely terrified and wouldn’t act how a real Astronaut would act. At this point, I wanted to leave the theater because Astronauts would have held it together longer than 60 seconds. Kowalski goes after her and saves her. They return to the orbiter where they find the crew viciously murdered by space junk. Did anyone else think that Astronaut was Seth Greene?
They’ve lost all communication with Houston and the world. The two venture to the International Space Station (ISS) to find one of the Soyuz gone and one with the parachute already opened. Clooney’s character pronounces Soyuz different than I’ve ever heard it. He made it more exotic than how we used to say. I could be wrong. By the way, landing on land in a Soyuz can be really bad for your back.
They flip and flop all over the ISS which is all blown to hell anyways. Clooney sacrifices himself and lets himself go in order to save Bullock. Bullock makes her way into the ISS and just wants to hear someone’s voice. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, WOMAN! By this point, Dr. Stone should’ve been killed at least 1000 times and I’m not exaggerating. Do you know how hard it is to hold onto things in space gloves? Think of snow gloves but they can withstand OUTER SPACE. I can’t even do a pull up in gloves. The ISS is broken and she starts a fire. She makes her way into the Soyuz to get to a Chinese space station that will probably never ever exist. The last time we talked about their space program it was a YouTube video which proved they were in a swimming pool. Cool story, director.
She goes into the Soyuz to commit suicide and turn off all the oxygen while talking to some guy play with his dogs and kid. At this point, I was to leave because I feel like nothing can salvage this movie. Thank God I didn’t. A lack-of-oxygen-dream-revived George Clooney who opens the hatch where they share vodka. This is actually funny because the Russians sneak that stuff on board and all the ethanol levels go through the roof. Mission Control has to laugh it off in real life. It’s hilarious. The two determine how to get home and Dr. Stone gets super psyched to survive. This never would have happened in real life because George Clooney opened the hatch while Dr. Stone had her helmet off. Her blood would have boiled and probably lungs would have burst in those 5 to 10 seconds. Thank God it was just a dream sequence and George Clooney really died but that was just what she needed to turn the blasters on. She heads for the Chinese space station, flies her way back to Earth and somehow pilots her way to THE BEST POSSIBLE LANDING SPOT EVER CREATED. She hit like a puddle of water where it would slow her down perfectly and give her time not to sink. She opens the hatch before removing her space suit. Every Astronaut knows not to do that. You drown.
Dr. Stone fights for her life and swims to the beach which is probably 10 feet away from where she crashed. I know, it’s Hollywood. She survives and caresses the beach. I think Sandra Bullock did a really good job of playing her character, I just thought her character wouldn’t exist in real life. George Clooney killed it. Absolutely nailed the performance. Joking, funny, and there was even some well deserved sexual tension in space. I liked the movie. I just hated knowing all these technical inaccuracies or how knowing how impossible this would be. But hey, you gotta suspend disbelief. I give it an 8 out of 10. Is this the first time HOT SPACE TAKES has been discussed on Film Drunk?