I'm a sucker for fantasy and science fiction movies. City-stomping lizards. Warp drive. Wookies. Astonishingly big smurfs. Dream control. Turning back time by flying really fast. I grin when a fellow techie saves the day, whether it’s The Professor or Mr. Spock. Release a fundamental restriction or two, and fantasy and science fiction can experiment with big questions. What does it mean to be human? What is time? Could you survive a mob of zombies with only your wits and a piece of string? The big questions!
I’m game for inconsistencies for a worthwhile cause. I enjoy a diversion. As a guy named Tolkien urged, “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?
If you have a clear southern sky, low on the horizon you can spot the Hubble Space Telescope around sunset or sunrise. It follows the equator, moving from our point of view southwest to southeast, returning every 96 minutes. The earth is 24,000 miles around. To circle the earth in an hour and a half, the Hubble Space Telescope speeds along at around 17,000 miles per hour.
I was engrossed in this unfolding action, but then the George Clooney cowboy warns that a lethal cloud of satellite debris would orbit back in 93 minutes! That remark rudely smacked me out of orbit.
Whoa. Back to the movie. Clooney’s character unbuckles the tether. Why? How is this required? Oh, I get it. He is neither sacrificial nor stupid. He just wants to get out of this movie. He has figured out that the screenplay chose a half dozen orbital dramas and stitched them together.
I really tried to reattach my tether to Gravity, but these repeated disconnects kept spinning me off. An awesome five-hundred-plus space travelers walk the earth, but those, their support staff, and we astronerds represent relatively few tickets. By contrast, a quarter of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. (Here, page 7-23.) Real space travel is boring.
You want videos of the passing earth? They are real and they are gorgeous. Want cavorting weightless astronauts? How about real stars?
How does a movie named Gravity show less gravity than any other movie? I miss the truthful titling of 2012, when I could see Lincoln or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and not be disappointed.
“Isn't there a human-interest story in Gravity? Isn't there character development? Isn't there courage and ingenuity?” Yes! I’ll leave those to sermons.
“Do we need space suits to overcome life's disasters?” Of course not. You meet overcomers every day! Hollywood, I offer you these taglines for new movies:
- “Surrounded but alone. Welcome to the world of The Single Parent.”
- “Beltway! 63 minutes circling the center of power! Once you get on, can you get off?”
- “Math Test—make the little things count.”
- “What if you are the zombie? Hold on to your parts, because you are Aging.”
- Look up. Look up more often. Look up and wave.
- Don’t watch a western with a cowboy.
- “Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it.” - Isaac Newton, 1687
- “There is ... a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” - Douglas Adams
- “Will it go round in circles? Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?” - Billy Preston
- “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” - Winston Churchill
- Breathing is a blessing.
- We are linked. Do I really need to cut myself loose?
- It's hard to come to movies or to church with no expectations at all.
- We need occasional sleep. We need occasional suspension of disbelief. Shame on anyone who needlessly disturbs those.
- Authenticity counts. Some people conclude that God is not real because Christians are not real.
- “The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; ... the reader ... though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.” - Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1779
- Spaceballs was under-rated.