Escape to the Movies: Gravity

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Tumedus:
Beyond the movie just looking dull to me, one scene that I keep seeing just ruins the appeal for me: When she detaches from the spinning arm, she flies backward and the arm continues forward. Horrible horrible physics. In space, detaching would have almost no impact on her previous trajectory, she would continue rotating with the arm, just no longer bound to it.

It may seem like a nitpick, but for a movie entirely about the experience of falling to earth from outer space, things like that just rub me the wrong way.

That's completely opposite of what would happen. When she detaches herself from the arm, there is no longer a centripetal force. From the arm's frame of reference, she'd be flung away like throwing a discus. With the camera following the arm, and her releasing at the right moment, what they show is exactly what would happen.

Houston, let me tell you a story . . . .

I just got home from seeing Gravity, VERY good movie, actually made me feel kind of like I'd been swinging around on some kind of zero G ride at an amusement park, only one problem.

2001 a Space Odyssey.

See, throughout the movie (I count at least twice but it's been close to 15 years since I've seen 2001) the movie referenced 2001 a Space Odyssey, SO heavy handedly that I had to laugh, seriously guys . . .

Otherwise though, excellent movie, definitely worth the Imax 3D extra charge, not so sure it's worth the $12 I had to pay after getting in for a bag of candy and a large drink though. That part is damn robbery . . . but that's the theater not the movie makers

maninahat:
I wish Bob didn't include the smug criticizing the critics thing. "How much would they have praised this movie if it were by Synder or Bay?" The fact is Synder and Bay don't make these kinds of movies, which is exactly why they celebrate some directors over others; because they make these good films which they enjoy. The "Directed by" tag might create an expectation, but nothing more.

I found it to be a confusing moment from Bob. The directors he listed couldn't do a film like Gravity. They might have several films under their belt but what we've seen from them just says they don't have the talent in the directors chair to do anything but the sort of films they keep doing over and over.

It's a bit like saying would an Alfred Hitchcock movie be less of a film without the Hitchcock name attached? Some directors have earned a reputation so by all means let them bask in going above and beyond the directors that don't have greatness in them. Good or bad some directors have earned the reputation they have.

Ha ha, maybe someone should bring this moment up when Bob is fussing about having to review Transformers 4.

MinionJoe:
I can't see this movie unless they have a consulting astrophysicist in the credits. A physics-based movie must have accurate physics and I just don't trust Hollywood to get it right on their own.

Addendum: Too bad Reel Physics isn't here anymore. This movie is right up their alley.

Actually just watched the movie last night and I am a junior in physics with my minor in astronomy, I plan on being "fully" qualified to answer your question in a few years but school takes time. As for whether or not the movie follows physics well I have to say about 75% of the time they do follow it pretty well. Especially when trying to grab onto the space station or the way they have to do the "tugboat" thing with the jet pack. Sadly some other times it really really makes no sense and is almost cringe worthy. I mean they do it to make a scene look really cool or something but 5 minutes of playing kerbal space program would give you the insight to know that is not how things work.

On a side note I thought the movie was different for sure, pretty good, but definitely not as good as the critics are making it out to be. I mean why even root for her to live? She has no one who cares if she even makes it home and I found myself much more concerned about how screwed space travel would be now that space junk multiplied to this level.

I'm willing to give this a shot, because MovieBob had led me to the promised land of movie fun when I've been hesitant before (Immortals notwithstanding I MEAN WHAT THE HELL, MAN).

But I just keep seeing "Deep Water" in space. And this is coming from a guy who enjoyed that David Lynch movie with the old guy on the lawnmower... I can appreciate a boring central concept with a deliberately paced execution. I'm just suspicious the movie won't give me enough motivation to care what happens to the characters.

Having just got back from the movie, I can assure people that there are plenty of inaccuracies in the portrayal of space physics. I can also assure people that the movie is visceral, thrilling and visually incredible, so none of those technical inaccuracies actually matter. Give it a watch.

ssManae:

Tumedus:
Beyond the movie just looking dull to me, one scene that I keep seeing just ruins the appeal for me: When she detaches from the spinning arm, she flies backward and the arm continues forward. Horrible horrible physics. In space, detaching would have almost no impact on her previous trajectory, she would continue rotating with the arm, just no longer bound to it.

It may seem like a nitpick, but for a movie entirely about the experience of falling to earth from outer space, things like that just rub me the wrong way.

That's completely opposite of what would happen. When she detaches herself from the arm, there is no longer a centripetal force. From the arm's frame of reference, she'd be flung away like throwing a discus. With the camera following the arm, and her releasing at the right moment, what they show is exactly what would happen.

I think you should watch the trailer again. The discus analogy, while not perfect, is pretty apt. And that is the problem as it doesn't accurately reflect that in the video.

When she detaches she should travel outward from the rotating arm (centrifugal force), following the same directional vector it is on (shared velocity) and only spinning opposite to the rotation of the arm if you believe she rolls off of it (I can forgive this part as her feet are shown as attached even though she only appears to unhook a waist harness) . In other words, from our point of view, she would be traveling outward from the arm but remain perfectly in line with its center of rotation because all other velocities would remain the same.

But in the scene she actually changes velocity as she moves away from the arm and doesn't rotate along the same axis as the arm (even if you accept the opposite spin).

These issues are particularly bad if you trace it all the way back to the detachment from the shuttle as there are a few problems with that part as well.

I don't know why Russia is back as the bad guy. To be honest, Corporate America is a much more relevant bad guy, especially in light of Russia's recent successful peacekeeping efforts stopping the US from going to war.
P.S. Sorry I might be getting too political, but Bob started slinging insults at other countries' leaders.

Makabriel:

Out of curiosity, what kind of movies do you generally enjoy?

I like my films like I like my video games: Indie. ;)

Moon and Primer are two excellent space/science movies that I can think of off-hand.

I do like quite a few mainstream movies, but if I list them here, people will just pick them apart. Apollo 13 was really good though. And it was mostly accurate.

Panzer Camper:

Actually just watched the movie last night and I am a junior in physics with my minor in astronomy,

Good deal! I was where you are back in... 1993-4. A word of advice: When you get to do your undergraduate research, look to assisting your professors with their research projects instead of striking off and doing one on your own. I tried the latter (ignoring numerous hints to the prior), and it didn't work out very well.

As for whether or not the movie follows physics well I have to say about 75% of the time they do follow it pretty well. ... Sadly some other times it really really makes no sense and is almost cringe worthy.

Thank you for the educated critique! It does sometimes make me sad that a good knowledge of physics (aka Secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know) can ruin most movies. :/

Tumedus:

ssManae:

Tumedus:
Beyond the movie just looking dull to me, one scene that I keep seeing just ruins the appeal for me: When she detaches from the spinning arm, she flies backward and the arm continues forward. Horrible horrible physics. In space, detaching would have almost no impact on her previous trajectory, she would continue rotating with the arm, just no longer bound to it.

It may seem like a nitpick, but for a movie entirely about the experience of falling to earth from outer space, things like that just rub me the wrong way.

That's completely opposite of what would happen. When she detaches herself from the arm, there is no longer a centripetal force. From the arm's frame of reference, she'd be flung away like throwing a discus. With the camera following the arm, and her releasing at the right moment, what they show is exactly what would happen.

I think you should watch the trailer again. The discus analogy, while not perfect, is pretty apt. And that is the problem as it doesn't accurately reflect that in the video.

When she detaches she should travel outward from the rotating arm (centrifugal force), following the same directional vector it is on (shared velocity) and only spinning opposite to the rotation of the arm if you believe she rolls off of it (I can forgive this part as her feet are shown as attached even though she only appears to unhook a waist harness) . In other words, from our point of view, she would be traveling outward from the arm but remain perfectly in line with its center of rotation because all other velocities would remain the same.

But in the scene she actually changes velocity as she moves away from the arm and doesn't rotate along the same axis as the arm (even if you accept the opposite spin).

These issues are particularly bad if you trace it all the way back to the detachment from the shuttle as there are a few problems with that part as well.

I think I'm seeing the actual problem now. First, the camera does not keep attached to a fixed frame of reference. It releases from the one it was following when she does. Second, you're misunderstanding centrifugal forces. She will not go flying out from it, she'll fly out tangentially on a perfect release. On a perfect release, she would continue in her current direction at the speed of the center of mass, plus the rotational speed times the radius from the center of mass. Finally, the center of mass is not the center of the arm. This further skews the direction she appears to be traveling as the long end continues spinning towards the camera.

There are some wonky physics for sure, but her disconnecting is not the worst of it.

"Third act bullshit that ruined Children of Men" - Bob Chipman

I'm sorry but WHAT!? The third act of Children of Men is one of the greatest moments in cinema, period. You're welcome to your opinion and I respect it or I wouldn't go to you first for movie reviews but that doesn't mean I can't be confused by what you say, however to say that the third act ruined Children of Men just -- baffles me.

No, no it doesn't, it makes the movie that much more special, more memorable. Wow...

ssManae:

Tumedus:

ssManae:

That's completely opposite of what would happen. When she detaches herself from the arm, there is no longer a centripetal force. From the arm's frame of reference, she'd be flung away like throwing a discus. With the camera following the arm, and her releasing at the right moment, what they show is exactly what would happen.

I think you should watch the trailer again. The discus analogy, while not perfect, is pretty apt. And that is the problem as it doesn't accurately reflect that in the video.

When she detaches she should travel outward from the rotating arm (centrifugal force), following the same directional vector it is on (shared velocity) and only spinning opposite to the rotation of the arm if you believe she rolls off of it (I can forgive this part as her feet are shown as attached even though she only appears to unhook a waist harness) . In other words, from our point of view, she would be traveling outward from the arm but remain perfectly in line with its center of rotation because all other velocities would remain the same.

But in the scene she actually changes velocity as she moves away from the arm and doesn't rotate along the same axis as the arm (even if you accept the opposite spin).

These issues are particularly bad if you trace it all the way back to the detachment from the shuttle as there are a few problems with that part as well.

I think I'm seeing the actual problem now. First, the camera does not keep attached to a fixed frame of reference. It releases from the one it was following when she does. Second, you're misunderstanding centrifugal forces. She will not go flying out from it, she'll fly out tangentially on a perfect release. On a perfect release, she would continue in her current direction at the speed of the center of mass, plus the rotational speed times the radius from the center of mass. Finally, the center of mass is not the center of the arm. This further skews the direction she appears to be traveling as the long end continues spinning towards the camera.

There are some wonky physics for sure, but her disconnecting is not the worst of it.

I don't know maybe I am not explaining it well because you keep telling me I don't understand stuff I thought I was already explaining. Although looking at the first post, I said she would "rotate with the arm" which was a poor choice of words and maybe why you think I don't know what I am saying.

So in the interest of clarity let's fix some terms. Centrifugal force technically has no bearing on her direction at all once she releases from the arm. Inertia is what determines her velocity. That is why, on a perfect release, she would move tangential to the spin at the moment of release. On an imperfect release (going with the discus analogy) the vector, while still technically tangential to the initial release point, would appear to radiate outward from the spinning object and cause the opposite spin on the released object.

The camera does change a lot, but we can still see where we are in relation to the spin of the arm. And since we continue to see the spin after she has released, it is clear she moves in the opposite direction of the tangent relative to the arm. The most appropriate direction for her to move in that scene would have been down out of frame. Depending on how much additional rotation you give the disconnect for the discus analogy, you could argue some angle between down and toward the camera. The only justifiable way to have her move up out of frame would be if the camera continued to follow her previous anchor point, but it clearly does not.

At any rate, you seem to know your physics, even if you believe I don't, and have acknowledged that there are bad physics in the scene so I will leave it there. That specific point just struck me because of her blatant change of velocity when she releases from the arm. Not sure, given everything you just said, why you still think the scene is okay, but its no big.

The movie still looks rather uninteresting.

Edit: and the more I think about the scene, her harnessed pivot point off of the arm is almost definitely below her center of gravity, which is on the leading edge of the rotation. So the discus analogy doesn't really work for her spin since a discus is thrown with the grip behind the leading edge. She should be spinning with the same rotation as the arm if any spin at all. That may have added to my dissonance, even if I hadn't rationalized it before, but it wasn't part of my initial complaint.

Ken_J:
That last shot shown from the movie just makes me think of 'Major Tom'

Space Oddity, you mean?

I'm not nitpicking, just, if so, we're on the same page.

Two quick comments here:

1) Sandra Bullock, before she went onto those (terrible) dramatic roles, was a legit action movie regular with a career made up mostly of upstaging big-name action stars. She did it with Keanu in "Speed"; she managed to get a double-kill of both Snipes and Stallone in "Demolition Man"; and as far as ANYTHING was good about "Speed 2" (seriously, that's a dreadful, dreadful movie), she was. So to see her going back to her roots here is definitely a welcome return.

2) Cuaran made the best Harry Potter movie... until #7 came along. Seriously, *that* scene in the tent almost brought me to tears. If anybody hasn't seen "Deathly Hallows Pt 1", do. It not only stands on its own as a great film, it's the best of the Potters by a country mile.

Tumedus:
*snip*

Her spin is probably the easiest physics in the scene to write off. All it takes is the back of the stand to clip her legs and head over heals it is. Other than that, I guess the ambiguous camera angles give me enough room to not think the direction is wrong (if not a little exaggerated), and with the butt-clenching suspense the rest of the movie it's easily forgotten. Was enjoyable enough for a genre my wife likes but is normally wasted on me.

ssManae:

Tumedus:
*snip*

Her spin is probably the easiest physics in the scene to write off. All it takes is the back of the stand to clip her legs and head over heals it is. Other than that, I guess the ambiguous camera angles give me enough room to not think the direction is wrong (if not a little exaggerated), and with the butt-clenching suspense the rest of the movie it's easily forgotten. Was enjoyable enough for a genre my wife likes but is normally wasted on me.

I took one last look at the video after writing my post last night and the brace on the back is pretty high. There is clearly no visible contact with her lower body after she releases (her legs have spun up before the brace even gets low enough) but I can at least accept that there may have been a contact point on the lower end of her backpack, which wouldn't be visible from our perspective, causing the spin. Like I said, that was never part of my original complaint, anyway, which was all about the direction she travels after release.

At any rate, I am glad your wife enjoyed the movie.

Personally, I found this to be a fantastic movie. Cuarón builds tension and anticipation through the seemingly easy use of framing and pacing. Soundtrack is quite eerie and sets the mood really nicely. The long silent shots are a masterpiece to watch.

Yeah, sure, it's actually probably hell to live under an oppressive, homophobic, swaggering, macho-creep of a dictator.

You know, you just sank to the level of the Obama-the-socialist-arab-lizard-king crazies.

lacktheknack:
>character drama heavy on the action and with excellent acting is released, receives more acclaim than any other movie in years
>Escapist users refuse to see it because of trailer soundtrack or potentially bent physics

You know how much of the internet dislikes this forum? This is why. This is also why we've made a "restore the fun to the Escapist Forums" group.

OT: I'm really hyped. This'll be the first time I've been to the movies since Pacific Rim.

So I'm not alone in thinking this forum has become incredibly pretentious and contrarian?

Oh good. And here I thought maybe I was just imagining the downturn. Also, I was unaware of this "restore the fun" group. I may have to join. (assuming it's not invite only, which would be odd)

Anyway, I'm with you. I've been hyped about this film since I first heard about it well over a year ago. I may be biased, but just hearing that it was Alfonso Cuaron doing another sci-fi thriller was enough to excite me.

Haven't had a chance to get to a theater yet. Most likely will this weekend. But, based on what I've been hearing from critics and audiences alike, I'm really anxious to see this. If only for the incredible eye candy being promised.

Even James Cameron gushed over how amazing the effects were.

I just got back from seeing it.

Without a doubt, that is the best movie I've ever seen. The movie was made for me. Such close attention to realism, incredibly beautiful visions, good sound design, untouchable cinematography, fucking fantastic characters and dialogue. (And there was no romance either.)

I was so apprehensive to see Clooney and Bullock as the leads of this movie, and I only saw this movie because of the premise of being stuck in space. But goddamn it if Bullock didn't nail the role as Stone. That one scene where she is listening to the Chinese conversation is ten straight, uncut minutes of her going from panicked to denial to anger to fascination to sad to melancholy. Half the reason the movie sat so right with me was Cuaron's love of one-shot takes, but Bullock going on a long emotional and eventually uplifting soliloquy to the audio of a blurred AM frequency of a Chinese man mocking her was the most tragic, emotional thing I've ever seen. It just seemed so natural.

I agree with Bob though, about that sense of realism that the movie probably could've done without.

But it didn't ruin the movie, not by a long shot. I thought it was well-done of a sort of showstopper and I certainly went "Oh..." after it happened, but I think they should've done something more with that five minute gap they used up.

Also,

I can't imagine a movie that is ever going to be better on a personal level than Gravity is.

The charge that the critics would be less open to the same film coming from Bay, Snyder, or Neveldine/Taylor is puzzling. Considering how critics gush over any film that dares to be different in any significant manner, I'd posit that they would be surprised at the quality of the film, but wouldn't give it a failing grade based on the director's status. However, the film would look substantially different if it came from anyone other than Cuaron. Cuaron has proven himself as a director. That's not to say he's never made a less than stellar film (Potter 3 was ok, but I don't revisit it), but it does mean that there's a damn good reason to look forward to his work much in the same way people don't look forward to the work of Shyamalan.

I saw the movie last night and loved it! :) Speaking as someone who's afraid of heights, the whole thing gave me the heebie jeebies and was filled with gut-wrenching suspense.

Kumagawa Misogi:
For a good accurate ripping for how inaccurate this rubbish is, see here.

http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/10/poking-holes-in-the-gravity-trailer-with-nasas-help/

That article makes for an interesting and educational read, but I don't see how they could have included all of those points in the movie and still maintained the intense emotional connection with the audience. For what it's worth, Cuaron has said that he wanted to make the physics of the movie as accurate as possible, but had to make some tough choices to simplify things in order to keep the movie going and not turn half of the movie into dialogue explaining the physics. Personally, I believe he made good choices that didn't significantly take away from my ability to enjoy it and it isn't fair to call the movie "rubbish" because of it. (For that matter, the author of the article doesn't think the movie is rubbish, nor does the NASA official he corresponded with) The whole concept of retrograde burns to drop into faster orbits is fascinating, but the general public knows nothing about that, so it would kill the pacing of the movie if the characters stop to explain everything they're doing.

Nevertheless, just for fun, here's my best impression of how the movie would have turned out, taking everything from the article into account:

It would be impossible to get to the ISS from Hubble because they're in different orbits, so after the debris struck the shuttle, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock would remain adrift until they died. Clooney's fancy jetpack is impractical and unfeasible, so he isn't able to rescue Bullock from tumbling away, so the whole movie is 90 minutes of Bullock tumbling in space, unable to reach anything and for the last 30 minutes of it, she's dead from asphyxiation.

Even better version:

They never go out on the spacewalk in the first place because Houston warned them of incoming debris. They're inside the shuttle, not wearing their spacesuits when the shuttle is hit, so everyone dies of explosive decompression at the beginning of the movie and the rest of the 90 minutes is scenes of floating, lifeless debris.

Sounds like a blockbuster. :)

Finally saw this yesterday. IMO it deserves every bit of praise it has gotten. It was a white knuckle thrill ride while also being a satisfyingly emotional experience. Easily my favourite movie of the year so far and probably one of the best I've seen in a long time.

I've seen Gravity now, but I forgot to keep an eye out for the 'magical realism' bit. Anyone have any idea what that referred to?

Managed to find a 3d Cinema that still had this movie on show. I'm lost for words... by far the best movie I've seen all year, and one of the most thrilling I've watched in years. My only regret is that I've missed the IMAX version.

Which also brings me to this...

scnj:
I've seen Gravity now, but I forgot to keep an eye out for the 'magical realism' bit. Anyone have any idea what that referred to?

I've done my fair share of Maya and 3dsMAX and I own an expensive enough camera to allow me to say the occasional "how the F did they do that?!" when I see a movie like Rango (not that I liked that crap movie) or Children of Men. I can appreciate special effects and cinematography done right. But it's been a long long long time of me saying "they don't make movies like they used to", crying over the perfection of special effects in Das Boot and 2001, weeping on the costumes of The Duelists and the candle lights of Barry Lyndon. Movies of our era just look fake. It's gotten to a point where I prefer to see full animated movies rather than your normal action blockbuster. Heck, I even started to watch asian movies to get my "realism" kick. Even movies I like share this problem. Heck, even trying to put a full story in 2 hours is bound to have issues, right? Name any of your pre-2000 favorite movie and I will put a check on my "fake movie" list. And then there's Trainspotting, or Snatch, or Fight Club, or Goodfellas, you know, the good stuff. It's like Hollywood doesn't know how to make movies anymore, right? It's all shallow and fake, for the masses, just add a "2" at the end.

Enter "Gravity"... f_ck, where do I begin? 2 hours of watching something you'll never ever ever see yourself, based on reality, best 3D ever, special effects so real you forget they're made with a keyboard and mouse? Plus, you will never ever watch an ISS news (they just fixed some pump today btw) like you did before, because you'll realize that even with the entire NASA behind it, in the end they're just a bunch of people out there alone and if shit goes wrong THAT's what it actually is like! Read about the Soyuz 5 landing. Try a wikipedia search. You'll see text, you'll read it, you'll cringe about the "broken teeth" part, but you'll not actually understand much. But after you've seen Gravity, suddenly you have more respect, you've seen what it's actually like. That's the whole thrill of Gravity, that's why the tension is so real. Ok, the Apollo 13 movie also did a good job in some regards, but just looking at worried faces doesn't compare to seeing the ISS being turned into a million pieces.

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