Gravity: Basically ER in Space

Warning: I spoil plots without remorse.

I have a tendency to assume that science fiction movies will be smarter/more creative/more interesting than your usual big box explosion-fest. While that’s true in some cases (District 9 and uh…District 9?), a lot of what’s marketed as sci-fi is really just action schlock set against the backdrop of CGI space.

Gravity is a prime example. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts who are tasked with some boring scientific mission involving the Hubble Telescope. Everything’s going fine until BLAMMO – some random ‘splosion disconnects them from their ship (and mission control) and they have to fend for themselves in the cruel darkness of space.

Fun fact: Being stranded in space is a recurring nightmare of mine, so we opted for the traditional showing and not the PTSD-inducing 3D version. Plus I’m old so I hate all that gimmicky crap.

Gravity reminded me a lot of the TV show ER — and not just because they had Clooney doing the whole ‘cavalier hero’ thing. It’s because ER episodes always used to involve a ton of consecutive crises – like, it wasn’t enough that the whole series was set in an emergency room, there had to be a fire on the floor, and a shooter taking hostages in the reception area, and a power outage… and then something would explode for no reason.

Gravity’s basically a combination of a bad late-season ER episode and one of those Ben Stiller movies where the protagonist can’t do anything right. The lost-in-space premise is legitimately scary, but they ruin it by throwing in too many climactic disasters. By the time you’ve witnessed 67 OMG LEVEL 11 emergencies where our hero makes mistake after mistake after mistake but STILL survives, the whole movie has lost all credibility. And it’s just not scary anymore.

Sci-fi thriller or Looney Tunes cartoon? There’s really no way of knowing…

For me, the most unforgivable moment happened at about the halfway mark. After Sandra Bullock narrowly escapes a cabin fire and succeeds in manually detaching a parachute from the escape module via improvised spacewalk, she finds out that the reentry capsule she needs to get to the other space station is out of gas. OUT OF GAS.

And then her parents walk in on her having sex. And mission control hears it all! Aaaaaah!

But enough about the plot (or lack thereof). Can we talk for a minute about the boy shorts? I think we need to.

Because I call bullshit.

A quick googling reveals just how unsexy ACTUAL astronaut underwear is:

Q. When astronauts go up into outer space, what do they wear under their spacesuits?
A. Astronauts wear special long underwear with small tubes sewn into the garments. Our suits hook into the Space Shuttle and water flows over our body to help keep us cool inside the suit. [cite]

(It could be worse. Those could have been “pee tubes.”)

Also, Mulder was doing the whole gratuitous tiny panty thing WAY before it was cool.



  1. I seem to recall making a hefty amount of fun of District 9– but I understand when you are trying to grab at positivity straws, especially in genre of modern sci-fi. The fact that so many modern sci-fi films have just become another excuse for action and explosions is not good news for creativity and imagination. Moon was good, but only because it was a rip-off of 2001 with Kevin Spacey playing Hal.

  2. Yup – District 9 definitely had its faults (especially the super boring machine gun battle part near the end) but still… I thought it had some flashes of real creativity. Did you see Elysium? That was actually quite a bit worse than Gravity (esp taking into account Jodie Foster’s terrible Star Trek Voyager accent… eek!)

  3. Okay, so, we watched this on the plane today and my first major issue was her goddamned GASPING. I was so sick of hearing her stupid noises of woe and exertion– it was 98% of the movie. I obviously hated the boy shorts-2001-Contact SPACE FETUS POSITION which you have pictured here. Plus I think they were trying to make some evolution thing happen with her crawling out of the ocean at the end. AND why were those trained astronauts so bad at grabbing onto ANYTHING. I tried, for like 3 seconds, to make some feminist point about how she was trying to be one of the bros and not scuttle immediately back into the airlock when the shrapnel hit the fan because she had a DUTY– but no. Not worth it. I was surprised at how little Clooney there was, and also at how much Bullock looked like Barbara Lynch (Space whites or Chef whites?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s