The movie Gravity is a decent two-hour diversion for the holidays, but there are more delightful distractions that are more science and less fiction.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — I love anything to do with outer space, so the movie Gravity exerted a natural pull on me. Now that the down time of the holidays is upon us, I recommend it as a decent diversion, but there are even better delights to be had in the long tail of entertainment.
Gravity opens with a long panoramic shot of Earth from orbit that was more than compensation enough for the cost of the ticket. If I would ever go a second time it would be for that first awe-inspiring 20 minutes.
Not long after, the sci-fi writer's machinations kick in, taking the story in Hollywood's more predictable heart-thumping directions. The plot has a few twists that stretched my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point a couple times. However, good acting, a script laced with solid characterization, and an upbeat ending carried me through the rest of the popcorn-chomping roller coaster ride.
When I long for a space fix, I sometimes pop into my old DVD player Space Station, a documentary narrated by Tom Cruise. There's plenty of heart-pounding action in take-offs, including one incredible close up from an unmanned camera near a Russian launch pad. The video is stocked with Earthscapes from space walks and lighter moments with the crew playing games in zero gravity, such as tossing a fellow astronaut back and forth.
Sometimes a book will do. I have an ancient coffee table version of Carl Sagan's Cosmos that has provided wonderful hours of escape from more Earth-bound concerns. A picture book of galaxies is another coffee table book I keep handy as a pick-me-up for idle hours.
There's no shortage of media celebrating our planet and universe. I am a huge fan of the BBC's Planet Earth series and its Blue Planet docu-flicks. The episodes are always just a few clicks away on my tablet, which allows me to couch surf into the depths of jungles, deserts, and oceans.
As I go on these journeys, I am reminded what an amazing world it is. The little anxieties and disgruntlements of my day melt away and once again I feel a bit of gratitude. That and some turkey are holiday enough for me.
As we approach the end of year holidays, I'd love to hear your favorite tickets to gratitude.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times