Thursday, March 27, 2014

[Movie] Gravity

Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller movie. Directed, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Alfonso Cuaron. Technically, this movie is like the 300 film, except its in future space and much much more less bloody. But yes, over 80% of this movie is comprised of CGI.

The plot of this movie is actually pretty simple. As simple the movie title. It about gravity, but instead of on Earth, the story take places in the orbit of Earth. The movie is starred by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Yup, only the two of them. There are other actors as well, but they only do the voice acting. Like the mission control voice, and that goofing around dude that will lose his face right at the start of the movie. The movie is quite simplistic, but still thrilling. Why? I'll tell you why.

Just doing our job here. Nothing suspicious.
The movie starts with a fictional space mission. A bunch of astronauts were send to service the Hubble Space Telescope, something to do with 'adding an experimental prototype that allow them to see better at the corner of the universe'. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is the scientist that would do the all the sciency stuff, accompanied by a veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Everything when fine until they got a warning from the Mission Control in Houston about some Russian missile strike on a faulty satellite that might not be conducive to their health being. The debris from the satellite could harm them if they happened to be within the vicinity of the chain reaction. Ah, the mysteries of space. Without air molecules, the debris will be moving without losing its velocity. And with the Earth gravity, the debris might be orbiting the planet with the same velocity it had when exploded. Long story short, they better get the hell out of the way if they doesn't want to die.

"Thank you.. Captain.. Obvious.. bzzt bzzzt.."
But they totally failed to escape in time. Why.. how is that debris move so fast? They didn't even got the time to start their engines. So the spacecraft spun like crazy after being hit, and it was crazy. Debris all over the place, the spacecraft was literally shredded, and Dr. Ryan got thrown completely away from the spacecraft and planet Earth. That doesn't sounds good at all. Not to mention that she had spend some time outside of the spacecraft, tweaking that stupid telescope, leaving her with half or almost empty tank of oxygen. But it was quite a miracle that she didn't have a cut or leak on her suit, considering the crazy-spinning-shredding-debris-fun-house that she just had.

I hate to break it to you.. but, this is the end of the road.
Turns out Kowalski survived too! By the way, its Commander Kowalski to you. He is the mission commander actually. And as an experienced astronaut, and a veteran commander, getting screwed over by the faster-than-bullet debris is pretty much what he is trained for. His life motto is very simple. "Fail in simulator but not in real life". Good one. Why did he said that? Because Dr. Ryan keeps telling him that she failed her simulator training how to handle emergencies. So he told her, that is what simulator was for. For you to fail. So in real situation, you won't. Keep calm, in the vastness of pitch black space of emptiness, there must be a way out.

Poor, poor Shariff...
They try to return back to their spacecraft, the Explorer. They hope is that the craft wouldn't be badly damaged and the radio is still working. Also, if possible, other survivors as well. Though the people inside the craft would not be wearing spacesuits, so if Explorer's hull is compromised then its over for them. Turns out it was a vain hope. All the other crews were dead. Including Shariff, who were outside of the Explorer as well. He got hit by a debris and that did not end well for him. The other equipment around the spacecraft were also badly damaged. The radio is out, the ship was a complete wreck. Good thing Kowalski is there. Is it just me or a guy named Kowalski is always the resourceful guy?      

Anyway, Kowalski suggest that they make a trip the space station. Which space station? The International Space Station, you silly. Codenamed as, the ISS. Its the place where every spacecraft and astronauts from Earth will dock first before going about with their space mission. I don't know, I'm just assuming. But they make the trip anyway. How far was that space station anyway? Its not that you just walk- wait they on space. They could just thrust themselves there, though the oxygen supply would a serious problem during the whole thrusting. But don't worry. In a movie, there is no way George Clooney can die. So, using a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) strapped on Kowalski back, they thrust and drift they way to the ISS. Don't worry you guys, hero never dies.

Seriously? Kowalski just died.
And you decided to show some skin? 
What?? George Clooney died? How did that happened? Ehem, back to the movie. Geor- I mean Kowalski, didn't make it. They tried to grab unto the space station but Kowalski failed. The MMU only got enough thrust to direct them to the ISS but not to halt their speed. In other word, they slammed themselves right on the ISS hull. Dr Ryan managed to grab Kowalski but the kinetic force is pulling them both away dangerously, so Kowalski unclip his tether to save Dr Ryan. And while the radio comm still active and within range, Kowalski left a few instruction for Dr Ryan what to do on the ISS. First thing first, radio the Earth surface, and then get further instruction to deploy the Soyuz re-entry pod back to Earth. Well, the Soyuz is actually damaged or should I say, won't make the re-entry because its chute have been deployed probably by the panicked ISS crews that evacuated the station in a hurry.

Oh, this so not happening right now..
By the way, the ISS was also damaged. Although its hull was not compromised for some reason. Which is good because Dr Ryan is in need of the oxygen real bad. But the whole station was a mess. And there were sparks of electrical fire which Dr Ryan didn't notice. She was kind of urgently looking for a working radio to reestablish contact with Kowalski in an attempt to save him. Kowalski is the only person know how to work that pod and the whole surviving plan. Turns out she can't. Kowalski... He didn't make it. What can I say, when Dr Ryan said that her oxygen tank in running low, what makes her tank is different from Kowalski? Kowalski probably had the same problem, but he didn't want to worry Dr Ryan. She already freaked out as she is.

To make thing worse, which in space, in can get very worse indeed, a blazing firestorm broke out. Dr Ryan managed to get into the Soyuz pod before she got cut off by the fire. She locked the door, but the sound of fire and explosion on the other side of the air-tight door was really scary. Well, for me at least. So Dr Ryan quickly work up on the Soyuz pod- wait did I mentioned that the debris that have been making their life a living hell was actually orbiting planet Earth? In other word, its moving around, as in it will hit back whatever that is in its path before. So yes, she need to detached the pod ASAP even if the ISS is not on fire.

Time to get the hell outta here!
So Dr Ryan opened up a bunch of handy manual books to operate the Soyuz pod. Problem is, the pod is attached to the ISS. Well, the chute remember? Its entangled with the ISS hull. So she need to get back out there, and detached the chute chord. Sound easy enough right? Oh.. if only Kowalski is still around. But enough of that, Kowalski won't come back to life. He sacrifice himself so that at least someone can go back home, and tell one hell of a story. So Dr Ryan buckled up and went outside to cut the chute chord. She got less than 7 minutes to that, in a zero-gravity environment.

Seriously, can this ever get even worse?
Which she did not get to do in time. So the debris hit the space station again. This with even more and bigger debris. So the ISS got split in half, shattered like an egg, with the Soyuz's chute cord still entangled with it. Dr Ryan got another taste of near-death-spinning-shredding fun house ride, just like she had before. Luckily, she managed to detached the chute cords and floats away with the Soyuz pod from the rampaging exploding ISS. The Soyuz have sustained damaged more than before, but that ok. Kowalski.. I mean, late Kowalski said, oh poor Kowalski, he said even if the Soyuz can't be used to re-enter Earth atmosphere, it still can be used to travel to another space station. There is another station that they can go, Tiangong (Heavenly Palace), space station that belong to the People's Republic of China. There should be some thruster in the pod that Dr Ryan can use to- wait not, the pod is empty on fuel. Oh my god. She is going to die up there, in the space, all alone..
Is it just me, or that station is going to crash?
Wait, didn't Kowalski mentioned something? About the Soyuz, the simulations? Yes, the simulations. Fail in simulations but not in real life, that is what simulations for. Soyuz have a soft-landing jet, an extra jet propellant used to slow down the pod's descent on Earth. So yes, jet propellant. That can be used to thrust the pod all the way to the Tiangong. So Dr Ryan maneuver the pod so it would face the Tiangong, which is 100 kilometers away, with a slight change in direction. She only need to flew past the space station, not to slam and crash the pod on the station. So off her go toward the Tiangong. This is it, she is going home.

Really, thats the end of it? Of course not, you silly. Didn't you ask whether the situation can get even worse than what just happened? Well, turns out it can. The space station Tiangong also received some damage from the same scattering debris that hits the Explorer and ISS. Is it just me, or the Russian didn't just launch a missile strike to take down its own defunct satellite. Because that one missile strike literally took out  a whole bunch of satellites, 2 space stations and a spacecraft. That is weird.

By the way, Tiangong orbit is decaying fast and its descending toward Earth. Soyuz is badly damaged, and and Tiangong is on the move toward crashing on Earth, so docking is out of question. Dr Ryan uses something called a decompression explosion, to propel herself from Soyuz toward the moving Tiangong. Once she got on board, she quickly get to Shenzhou pod, Chinese version of Soyuz pod. With that, she deployed the pod without as much as setting her destination because, fuck it, as long as it headed toward Earth and can land safely.

Sweet sweet, Mother Earth. And gravity..

One of the best science-fiction thriller movie out there. Definitely going to be in my movie marathon.


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