A couple days ago I saw this movie.  A film carried entirely by two characters who are trapped in space after their shuttle is destroyed and they must face their mortality and impending death.  A small cast means each member has a tougher job. The premise sounds fantastic, and I’m a fan of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, so was really looking forward to this.

I was floored in my disappointment.  The special effects were fantastic.  I could believe they were really in space only as far as the effects.  Weightlessness, droplets of water, and how pens and other objects moved are a testament to the skill of the special effects and CGI department.  Unfortunately the positives stop there.  Bring in the stereotyping of the weak woman and the big, tough man.

Now I am a fan of both George Cloony and Sandra Bullock, and the idea of a movie carried entirely by a cast of two people about a couple astronauts on a destroyed space station who are drifting further into the abyss and must learn to accept impending death has all the makings of a touching movie that makes you think. Instead the station was destroyed, the big, tough man dies voluntarily to let the whiny woman have a chance at life, and she hallucinates help from him while she gets back to earth. No real reflection on life and death, not much acting, poor script, and how the hell did this movie get ten Oscar nominations?

I don’t feel anything for these characters. Most of the acting takes place in space suits, leaving their faces and voices to get their emotions across, and these are just plain dull roles. George’s character is the smart, tough man not afraid of death, and he goes into it willingly to give Sandra’s character a chance to live. She’s not believable as an astronaut because she panics very easily, cries at the drop of a pin, is emotionally unstable (her entire character revolved around mourning for her daughter and hasn’t come to terms with it), admitted to failing certain parts of astronaut training…. Basically the man is the strong woman, and the woman is weak. I don’t think I’ve ever seen stereotypical gender roles so perfectly displayed in a movie, even in the classics.

For crying out loud, she only got out of a tough spot and survived because she hallucinated George telling her what to do, and the problem with this is he, her hallucination, told her something she didn’t know. So it’s not like the hallucination reminded her of something she forgot!! Frankly that’s like Bella’s hallucinations of Edward telling her what to do when facing danger she didn’t know existed. Hallucinations don’t work that way! Yet they couldn’t make Sandra’s character figure it out. Nope. Deus ex machina with a hallucination of the man giving her new information to save her ass.

Yeah, I just can’t let go of how she only survived because the man sacrificed himself and then came back in a hallucination to tell her what to do because she, an astronaut, failed a part of training and so didn’t know the work-around he told her.  I know her character is a mission specialist in space for the only time.  However there is no skill so special that NASA couldn’t find a person with both that skill and the intelligence to pass training.  If she was so brilliant that no one else alive had that skill, she would have passed.  Instead we were given a stupid character.  This movie would have been improved if she had figured out how to save her own life.  No, hallucinating a dead guy bak to life to tell you what you didn’t already know doesn’t count.  Think of Gusteau telling Remy, “How should I know? I am only a figment of your imagination,” when Remy wanted his hallucination to figure out a problem.

There was no sadness for George’s death, and I don’t feel relieved that Sandra lived. It would have been a better movie if she had suddenly died. Let you think she’ll live, then the sudden jarring impact of death and a black screen. Instead we were “treated” to a not-subtle bit of imagery of her floating in another space station she found in a way very reminiscent of an unborn baby in the womb, complete with a flesh-colored cord behind her obviously meant to be the umbilical cord. Rebirth, you know she’s going to have a new start, a second life, and that she’ll live. Frankly this was framed so obviously that it felt amateurish. It also completely killed off any tiny bits of tension there could have been because we knew she was going to live. No question. Halfway through, and the ending was foreshadowed too strongly.

Oh yeah, and no problems with decompression. She landed back on earth in water, got out of the module and her suit, swam to short, kissed the sand, and started walking off. The end. Yeah…it doesn’t work that way.

The special effects were the only good point to this film. The acting was subpar, the script was pointless. You could nix every single word and just have the music and sound effects and have a stronger movie.

But what really gets to me is how weak Sandra’s character was.  Couldn’t they have given her calmness and smarts?  Or maybe have had her die and George’s character live?  Or break the mold altogether and have two women astronauts so that we have a strong one to counter the weak one?

I know I’m in the minority for not thinking this movie is the most amazing ever, but given the weak plot, non-development of characters, other impracticalities and impossibilities, and the utter misogyny with the portrayal of these characters, I absolutely hated this movie.

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