The 3.142 Ridiculous Scientific Mistakes in Gravity and Why They Completely Ruin All Films Ever Made Both Past & Future


Gravity FINALLY came out at the weekend and this film fan was particularly pleased to finally have his eyeballs treated to the visual spectacle that Alfonso Cuarón has concocted. Reaction on the internet, and in old-fashioned “we’ve inked words onto dead trees” newspapers, has mostly fallen into one of two camps:

1. OMFG! That is the best film I have ever seen! It has made me reconsider not just my stance on 3D but reaffirmed my belief in cinema as an art form and life itself as a worthwhile pastime.
2. WTF! This film is not scientifically accurate at all. All Sci-Fi films must 100% accurate! You can’t spell Science Fiction without “peer-reviewed facts”! You Hollywood bastards!

Some reactions fall a little into both camps and presumably there are even some people out there less keen on spouting their opinions online who simply found the film to be “alright” and don’t get too worried about whether the science holds up or not. These people are a strange breed I’m going to label as “normals”.

Personally I think I fall into the first category, though possibly with less gushing and more conservative head-nodding. Gravity is a visually stunning film with a nice simple plot that is executed in groundbreaking fashion. Sure the dialogue isn’t up to much and certain liberties have been taken with science and logistics but that isn’t what Gravity is about. This is a straightforward thriller about being stranded in space and one that wants you to believe what you are seeing. The live action and CGI imagery are blended so well by London’s own Framestore that the film was totally authentic and believable. I have never been up in space but I reckon it looks a whole lot like it does in Gravity and if you popped George Clooney and Sandra Bullock up there they would closely resemble what we see onscreen.

The film is so well crafted and gorgeously shot I couldn’t care less about the science. This is storytelling, not a science lesson.

Gravity Still

Using what little I can remember from my Physics degree (they don’t call me Tim Brandon BSc for nothing often enough) the science in Gravity isn’t actually too bad. One major point of contention for angry nerds is the scene pictured above. Not wanting to spoil the film for anyone all I will say is that I don’t think **** could have pulled #### in as **** was still decelerating themselves. Lets not forget Newton’s three laws of motion… To slow down #### they need a force applied to them and if **** applies that force then the same force will act on them in the opposite direction. As **** is still slowing down and their foot is slowly coming loose any act of pulling #### could move them further from safety.

For more detail see this article in the Washington Post or buy me a mulled wine. A lot of the internet disagrees with me but then that’s nothing new is it?

That debate aside I can only really see three problems you can have with the inaccuracies in Gravity:

1. Debris would not behave in the way it does in the film
2. Satellites would not line up and allow astronauts to travel between them so easily
3. The shuttles were not precise replicas of the real things and the astronauts did not behave as their genuine counterparts should

If you were to try to fix (1) you would have no set-up to the film, if you fix (2) you would have nowhere for the film (or its characters) to go after the initial disaster, and (3) is only going to bother real astronauts or someone hoping to use this film as an instructional video.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone use Gravity to revise for a Physics test or for NASA to include in their training programme but none of that matters. All you need to ask is whether Gravity is a beautifully shot and innovative film that is incredibly tense and deeply engrossing. The answer to that question is yes. Everything else is just noise and as any good physicist will tell you; there’s no noise in space*.

*Picture me very pleased with myself

2012 Golden Globes Nominations

With awards season truly hotting up we are treated with the nominations for the 2012 Golden Globe Awards. They’re an interesting bunch, a lot of the more challenging and/or smaller films have been passed by. The Los Angles Times has it spot on when they say that the nominations seem to recognise those works featuring the A-list actors, more accessible films and less dark dramas. No Tyrannosaur or Like Crazy to be found below.

What you will find is my gut reaction and my opinions for each category (apart from Best Original Song and Best Original Score as that is not my strong suit) whether you want it or not. Continue reading

Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the second annual Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival awards to celebrate and berate various films screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Today I will be sitting in my tuxedo handing out the feted awards, the Raised EyebrowsTM, to any film which grabbed our attention in a positive or, equally likely, negative way.

Best Use of SymbolismWe Need to Talk About Kevin
A favourite to win a few bigger awards this year, even Best of the FestTM, but ultimately a few surprises took the crown. Instead Kevin is recognised for the amount of time poor Tilda Swinton is cleaning red off of her hands, her house and her car. Red is everywhere in Kevin. It’s not subtle but it’s certainly effective.

Best Use of Jon SnowCoriolanus
Jon Snow’s cinematic appearances are few and far between, it has been too long since Zombie Farm, but they are always a treat. Here he plays a newsreader with some classic Shakespearean dialogue. Best bit of the film.

Best Use of Felicity JonesLike Crazy
As the official Mild Concern crush we had to give Felicity Jones a mention. She is at the top of her game in Like Crazy and the film gives her a chance to show her acting chops, and captures her in a gorgeous light throughout. The more I think about the film, the better it seems.

Totally a Play AwardCarnage
Carnage was a hell of a lot of fun but, with four speaking parts and a set consisting of two rooms, hasn’t gained much in transitioning from stage play to motion picture. You’d struggle to find a theatre gathering this stellar cast though so all is forgiven.

Most Improved Performer – George Clooney for The Descendants
At last year’s festival The American was a major low point in my week, it was a dull and pointless film. Thankfully George Clooney took my criticism and returned this year with two films getting rave reviews. The Descendants takes the award for one good reason: it’s the one I saw.

Most Prolific Performer – John C. Reilly for Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Terri
John C. Reilly has the unique distinction of having a major role in three quality films at this year’s festival. In every film he is a less than perfect father figure to a troubled young boy. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is just playing the same role again and again, each time he plays a distinct character proving that Reilly is not a one trick pony.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Documentary)Crazy Horse
Visually beautiful and with a few nice insights into a famous Parisian club, Crazy Horse is a documentary with nothing to say but plenty of time to spend not saying it. I checked the time three times during the screening, willing the film to end and trying to keep my eyes open.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Feature)Last Screening
With Last Screening my battle to keep my eyes open was lost and became a battle to maintain consciousness. A film about a serial killer shouldn’t be boring, this is completely unacceptable.

Biggest Affront to Germaine GreerTales of the Night
In a series of fairy tales women fail to be anything more than pathetic damsels in distress. With the actors within the film amending some of the stories they fail to acknowledge women as competent human beings and give the female characters any initiative. It’s as if Buffy never happened.

Best Mix of Tears and Titters/Best Comedy50/50
I laughed, I cried (almost) and I found Seth Rogan funny throughout a film for the first time. 50/50 manages to fill a film about cancer with humour without ever belittling the disease. Good work people.

Scared to Walk Home Award/Best DramaMartha Marcy May Marlene
Stealing Kevin‘s award is a harrowing tale of a young girl who has escaped from a modern-day cult. A brilliant debut feature for director Sean Durkin and a stellar introduction to Elizabeth Olsen. You won’t ever want to be left alone again.

Best DocumentaryInto the Abyss
Werner Herzog certainly knows how to put together a documentary. Here he presents the story of a triple homicide without comment, simply allowing the people involved to tell the story from their point of view. Includes a moving scene where a man starts to cry as he tells a story about a squirrel.

Best AnimationAlois Nebel
So far from cartoon animation this gorgeous Czech film is a truly adult feature. The rotoscoped performances and mixture of CGI effects with hand drawn images make for a real work of art. Still not sure what was going on though.

Best Short FilmThe Monster of Nix
In a similar vein the best short film mixes live-action, computer animation and hand-painted background to make a gorgeous short film which could easily be extended to a full feature. If you’re listening Rosto, we want an extra hour please.

Best of the FestThe Artist
With so many heavy films the best thing we saw all festival was a French silent film set in Hollywood as the talkies began. Invigorating my love for cinema and hopes for its future The Artist is so much fun you can’t help but fall in love with it. It also has a release date now, get ready to smile on 30th December 2011.

A Note For Film-makers:
To collect your award simply send us an email with the address you’d like it sending to and we’ll post it on as soon as we cobble something together. And in case you’re wondering how to incorporate the award into your marketing campaign, here’s an example using Coriolanus:

If you missed any of our reviews, all films covered can be found by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail below:

The Descendants – LFF Review

Alexander Payne returns seven years after Sideways with an adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel starring George Clooney as Matt King, a man with too much on his plate. Matt is in charge of choosing a buyer for a large area of ancestral land in Hawaii, a sale which will benefit his extended family financially while harming the unspoiled land. He is also dealing with a wife in a coma she will never wake from and two unruly daughters he hasn’t been alone with for seven years. When his oldest daughter Alex (Shailene Woodley) reveals that his wife was having an affair Matt decides to hunt down her lover Brian before she dies.

If this all sounds a bit too much to take in, you know how I felt in the first twenty minutes; the situation with the ancestral land confused me and seemed completely irrelevant. Luckily it all tied together in the end and I almost understand what was going on now.

The story at the core of the film is the rebuilding of the relationship between Matt and Alex as they hunt down Brian. The one thing that unites this estranged pair is their hatred of Brian and the feeling of betrayal and anger towards their comatose mother/wife. Clooney is on fine form in the less than suave role, much better playing an oaf than trying to be cool like in last year’s The American, and Shailene Woodley certainly makes an impression as his bold daughter. Let’s put Woodley down for official one-to-watch status.

Payne is the master at making quality comedy dramas and hasn’t lost the knack since his last feature, after the muddle at the start and a few awkward metaphors The Descendants comes together as a touching and hilarious family dramedy.

Special mentions: Nick Krause for bringing heart and humour to a potentially bland role. Rob Huebel, from the amazing Childrens Hospital, for taking the smallest role and squeezing every last laugh from his few line. Beau Bridges for sporting the style made popular by his brother in The Big Lebowski. And finally, Jameson for not just sponsoring the London Film Festival but for getting their product into the film in full view.

The Descendants screens at the London Film Festival on the 23rd and 24th October 2011 and is in UK cinemas on 27th January 2012.

Top 10 Road Trip Films (I Own)

For the next week and a half I will be roaming around the South West of England in a yellow VW Campervan called Barney embarking on A Very English Road Trip. To celebrate I’ve compiled a list of the top ten road trip movies I own on DVD. An odd criteria for a film list but these film lists are superficial at the best of times.

Away We Go
A surprisingly light-hearted film from Sam Mendes as a young couple visit friends and relatives while trying to find the right place to bring up their imminent baby. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are a convincing couple and provide the sanity amongst the crazy characters they visit. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Allison Janney are the two main highlights along their journey.

The only documentary on this list, Catfish follows the burgeoning online romance between Yaniv Schulman and the sister of a young artist he has been emailing. After some suspicious events Yaniv and his friends travel to the mystery girl’s house and uncover something they had never expected. There is debate about this documentary’s authenticity, either way it makes for a gripping watch.

The Darjeeling Limited
Wes Anderson takes his signature style on the road, or rather on the track, as three brothers travel through India by train, looking for their mother and getting to grips with the loss of their father. Jason Schwartzmann, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson fit perfectly with Anderson’s tone as the three brothers and their journey is as much emotional as it is physical. Natalie Portman makes a brief, but revealing, appearance in the preceding short film.

The Go-Getter
The most indie film on the list unites Sundance darlings Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel and Jena Malone and brought together for the first time the she and him in She & Him. A young man has a quarter life crisis, steals a car and discovers love, and himself, on the road. A little bit twee to ever be successful, this is worth a watch if you are a fan of the cast, or just enjoy a gentle film about someone abandoning life and hitting the road.

Into the Wild
Speaking of a young man having a quarter life crisis and hitting the road… This time round the traveller is played by Emile Hirsch with a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart providing the tempting romance he finds along the way. Stewart’s role is quite small though and this is the biggest single-hander of the lot, with Hirsch the only character present throughout. This was Sean Penn’s last work behind the camera and is proof he should do more.

Little Miss Sunshine
An amazing cast go travelling in a yellow VW Campervan (not called Barney) in order to get Abigail Breslin to her beauty pageant. Darkly funny and more than a little moving this road trip ends the way all movies should, with a big dance number. Kevin Bacon would be proud. The film is notable for featuring Steve Carell’s most subdued performance, and for inspiring the colour scheme of this very website.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Even the Coen Brothers have made a road trip film, theirs being an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey and starring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as three escaped convicts searching for hidden treasure. Encountering all manner of characters and obstacles along the way this is the quintessential road trip film, and the only one to involve the KKK.

Any good road trip forces the film to shift focus from traditional plot or location and instead focus on the characters who are the only constant through the film, and their relationships. Few films utilise this better than Transamerica as Felicity Huffman’s pre-op transsexual meets her son for the first time as she ferries him across country under the guise of being a charity worker.

Wristcutters: A Love Story
While most of these films involve travelling across the United States, Wristcutters moves beyond the world of the living and instead is set in an afterlife reserved for people who commit suicide. Shortly after his death Patrick Fugit hears that his old girlfriend, Leslie Bibb, has also killed herself and so takes his room-mate and tries to find her. Along the way he encounters some charmingly rustic supernatural elements and Tom Waits, who also provides the soundtrack.

While everyone in Wristcutters is dead, most of the people our travellers come across in this film are the undead. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson travel through the post-apocalyptic landscape in search of Twinkies and instead find Emma Stone (swoon), Abigail Breslin (road trip queen) and more zombies than you can shake a double barreled shotgun at. One of cinema’s greatest cameos is the icing on this zombie cake.

If there’s anything all these films have in common, it’s that the destination is not the important part, it’s the journey and characters that are key when the film has no other consistent element.

The American – Review

It’s not hard to see why people might be impressed by The American, it is a slow burner with plenty of tension, nice cinematography, the odd laugh and occasional outbursts of violence that feel particularly real and brutal.

After writing that sentence I feel I should have enjoyed the film more but my honest reaction is that it was a little dull. In order to build the tension a lot of time passes with very little happening, George Clooney builds a gun and has sex with a prostitute a few times, not to mention his trips down to the river. I didn’t really worry about Clooney’s character as he wasn’t particularly likable and I certainly wasn’t concerned with his budding romance considering the way his last had ended at the beginning of the film.

Anton Corbijn has done a lovely job directing what must have been a threadbare script, but the film lacked the vital bit of humanity needed for me to get any real enjoyment out of it. Everyone on twitter seemed to love it though so maybe you will too.

The American is on general release on 26th November 2010.

Up in the Air – Review

Up in the Air begins with memorable opening titles and continues to impress, after a slightly slow start, until the horrendous fan-made song wailing out over the closing credits. George Clooney shows a rare vulnerability as corporate assassin Ryan Bingham and is ably supported by Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick whose characters together take Bingham on an emotional journey throughout the offices and hotels of America.

In a year lacking in great films you can smell award nominations for those involved; the cast and for Jason Reitman who continues to improve with each film. Juno is soon to be replaced as Reitman’s signature work.

Up in the Air takes you from moments of raucous laughter to the edge of tears and pulls no punches in providing an ending I honestly did not expect, yet which made sense, a true merit to any film that can achieve it. Much like its characters this film is not without its flaws but you will be more than happy to spend an hour or two in its company, just make a dash for the exit as the credits start or suffer the lyrical consequences.