Education Specialist, Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Where and with whom did you see the movie? My wife, Rene Kimura, and I experienced Gravity in 3-D at Consolidated Theaters at Kahala Mall.
Overall, what did you think? Very, very cool … visually stunning views of Earth, tension, survival, reminding us all of the dangers our astronauts are prepared to encounter, terror not caused by aliens or terrorists but the reality of physics and physiology, a reminder that space is a dangerous place. It also reminded us of numerous conversations we have had with astronauts about their space experiences and seeing the launch of the space shuttle at Kennedy Space Center. The movie provides a great tool for science teachers to discuss with students the reality of science and the movie action.
Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes? There were several, including the joy of riding the Manned Maneuvering Unit around the space shuttle and the unselfish act of survival by the unhooking of the tether linking the two astronauts.
On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film? ★★★★
What did you think of the cinematography? Stunning achievement to not be able to see any hint of the stitching together of animation, robotics and live acting.
Was the message/theme clear? For me, it was another reminder of the harsh and unforgiving environment of being in space, similar to what we saw in the space shuttle Columbia re-entry, the recent astronaut EVA (extra-vehicular activity) in which water was leaking into the space suit, and the reality of the thousands of pieces of space junk orbiting our Earth.
Did it remind you of any other works of film?The Dream is Alive (views of Earth), Space Cowboys (personal sacrifice, problem solving), Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff (the human spirit to explore).
To whom would you recommend this movie? Those who can enjoy a movie without the scrutiny of questioning the physics portrayed, who appreciate the wonder of exploration and the unknown, and the human spirit to survive.
Did any of the actors stand out? Sandra Bullock (who played Ryan Stone) … having to “act” with only her face in a helmet showing and her voice and breathing to express the emotions needed for the moment, and imagining the hours she had to spend in a space suit to create the film, perhaps setting the record for the longest EVA by anyone in the history of the space program.
Did you identify with any of the characters? Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), whose joy of “flying” around the space shuttle in the Manned Maneuvering Unit and stopping to appreciate the Earth and sunrise … We would all like to have that experience of flying free, not tethered by any emotional or physical constraints.
Did the soundtrack contribute significantly to the film? The producers tried to address the “science” of being in soundless space but used the sound track (in addition to the astronauts’ speaking and breathing) to override the absolute silence of space.
What’s your favorite movie snack? We always get popcorn and a soft drink (and a hot dog when Rene gives me permission).
On a different note, what’s new with you? It has been a 27-year journey since the Challenger accident, filled with new opportunities for students and teachers, collaborating with new partners in the community. Our Future Flight space camp, now in its 24th year, space-themed family science nights, the Astronaut Onizuka and Astronaut Lacy Veach recognition days, participating in global science conferences in Japan and in Hawaii, initiating this year a new robotics program for elementary and middle school students called VEX IQ, and sharing radish and sunflower seeds that spent the month of April in Earth orbit in a Russian bio satellite, with schools … the educational journey of Challenger mission 51-L continues. And, yes, the most frequently asked question we still get from students and parents: How does an astronaut use the bathroom in space?