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In Space No Can Hear You - No Wait the Radio Still Works: Gravity Trailer

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | July 24, 2013 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | July 24, 2013 |

A nice trailer/clip has just been released for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, showing the climactic set up for the film. Let’s jump right to it:

Sigh. This clip is being gobbled up all over the place, and so much sunshine blasted up its ass that it looks like the birth of a new sun. Taking a Michael Bay scene and slapping Cuaron’s name on it does not make it magically delicious.

Look, it’s space, things work slightly differently there, and all of the physical action in this clip seems subtly off. It moves too quickly, too smoothly. It moves with all the assumptions of being down on the Earth’s surface. If this was Michael Bay, I wouldn’t notice. Hell, space is allowed to be whatever you want if you’re just making Boom in Space 3: The Boomening. But when you’ve got a slow burn hard science fiction story entitled Gravity, I tend to get a little cagey when you don’t seem to know how like gravity works.

Take for instance the shuttle that the astronauts are standing on. It gets hit by debris and then falls away into the distance. Yeah, no. See, the shuttle might have the basic shape, but it doesn’t work like an airplane. It stays up there because it’s going 17,000 miles per hour. And it’s doing that with no engines running, because in a vacuum, air resistance doesn’t slow you down. Will the moon fall out of the sky once you put holes in its wings? Then neither would a space shuttle.

Here’s the obligatory plot summary:

GRAVITY, directed by Oscar® nominee Alfonso Cuaron, stars Oscar® winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

This trailer is just mystifying in its insistence on sixty seconds of action for a film that is described as being anything but.

But there’s also a sort of sadness in this exercise. They’re flying in the space shuttle. But that doesn’t exist anymore. If you follow space technology, you know that it wasn’t mourned in and of itself by many in the space industry. It’s a chunk of seventies technology built by committee instead of engineers. But the sad thing is that we didn’t replace it, we just let space travel taper off into nothing, with a few bones tossed to keep up the PR appearances. So we have science fiction that must be set in the past, because neither the present nor future seems to hold it anymore. And that’s more tragic than any amount of misunderstood movie physics.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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