Some are calling it the most realistic depiction of space ever, but what did a real astronaut think of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity?
Buzz Aldrin is one of the most famous names in the history of space travel. He was the second person ever to set foot on the moon, after his Apollo 11 crewmate Neil Armstrong, and set a NASA record (which has since been broken) for spacewalking during the last Gemini mission, Gemini 12, in 1966. In the decades since his NASA career ended he's written several books about his space experiences and remains an outspoken advocate for the future of human space exploration. So of course he'd be interested in Cuaron's visually stunning depiction of two astronauts stranded in orbit after their spacewalk goes horribly wrong.
Aldrin got a chance to see an advance screening of Gravity, which opens today, and penned a review for The Hollywood Reporter from the perspective of someone who really knows what space looks like. So what did he think?
"I was so extravagantly impressed by the portrayal of the reality of zero gravity," Aldrin wrote. "Going through the space station was done just the way that I've seen people do it in reality."
Aldrin also praised the way Cuaron and company depicted the movements of the astronauts themselves, and proclaimed the way George Clooney's Matt Kowalski moves, especially when he and Sandra Bullock's Dr. Ryan Stone are tethered together, to be spot-on.
"I was happy to see someone moving around the spacecraft the way George Clooney was. It really points out the degree of confusion and bumping into people, and when the tether gets caught, you're going to be pulled -- I think the simulation of the dynamics was remarkable."
But Aldrin didn't find everything to be perfect. Two things in particular about Gravity rang not quite true for him.
"We were probably not as lighthearted as Clooney and Sandra Bullock. We didn't tell too many jokes when people were in some position of jeopardy outside the spacecraft, but I think that's the humanity coming through in the characters. This movie gave great clarity to looking down and seeing the features of Earth … but there weren't enough clouds, and maybe there was too precise a delineation from space."
For Aldrin, though, Gravity was more than a thrilling space adventure with remarkable technical prowess. Film critics are giving it rave reviews, and James Cameron has dubbed it "the best space film ever done," but it's not just a movie for the spaceflight legend who continues to worry about the future of space exploration. Aldrin's been excited about human space travel for decades, and he hopes Gravity's realistic depiction of it -- even if it is about the dangerous side of things -- will re-ignite a greater public interest in future spaceflights.
"We're in a very precarious position of losing all the advancements we've made in space that we did 40 years ago, 50 years ago," he said. "From my perspective, this movie couldn't have come at a better time to really stimulate the public. I was very, very impressed with it."
Will you be seeing Gravity this weekend?