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Last Friday, I went to see Gravity in theaters. This movie has been receiving a decent amount of hype. Mainly, I think, because there are only two actors in the movie and it does get pretty intense in an environment where much of what is happening is beyond human control. It makes for a pretty compelling, edge of your seat experience. My question is, why did I walk out of the movie feeling pretty blah about it?
I believe it has to do with the character development. I feel like it was forced. It just wasn’t natural. The main character, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) basically had some trauma in her life that is brought to our attention. Clearly, this was designed to establish a connection between the character and the audience. So why didn’t it work? I think it has to do with the way it was presented. Essentially, the information is elicited by the only other real character in the movie, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Now this is a normal process by which we can learn about a character in the story. The problem has to do with the character’s relationship. They don’t really know each other.
This lack of relationship is established in the beginning. He is a veteran on his last flight. She is a noob on her first. Later he asks her about her training and things like that. They met to go on this mission. So it kind of becomes a problem when he starts probing about personal issues and then she spills her guts to him about a trauma she lived through but hasn’t truly recovered from. This causes it to seem awkward instead of triumphant when she achieves some measure of closure and takes her first steps toward healing. All I can say is “forced.” In fact, I think the movie would have been better if they hadn’t even tried to give the characters a back story. I wouldn’t usually say something like that, but if you really think about it, just the fact that they are obviously human and in this incredibly vulnerable situation makes them relatable. It isn’t too difficult to understand what they are going through. A back story doesn’t really advance that goal.
That being said, It is still worth a view. The visuals are pretty amazing and the intensity is something to experience. It really is terrifying to think about how helpless we are when technology fails us, let alone when it fails us in the void of space. Gravity really does give an erroneous sense of control over our environment so imagine what we really have when that element of our everyday existence is taken away. It’s powerful frightening to say the least. So, just for that, it’s definitely worth it.