Dr. Ryan Stone is on a shuttle mission fixing a satellite. Veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski floats around her trying to achieve a spacewalk record. Mission control tells them that there’s been a chain reaction from an exploding satellite and they’ve got to get out of there.
Why Ryan might be hard to identify with: She will spend most of the movie feeling like a talentless amateur who lacks the survival skills she needs in this environment, but she’ll eventually prove herself wrong. (Although, when she gives herself the advice she needs, she has to imagine that it’s coming from the veteran astronaut in order to convince herself.)
- The movie begins with a title onscreen: “At 600km above Planet Earth, the temperature fluctuates between +258 and -148 degrees.” Already, we believe, care and invest. This movie will include sensory information about space we didn’t know, this will make our heroes suffer and our heroes will be bad-asses for going out there anyway.
- There’s no score and no sound other than what’s on the radio.
- One of the first thing she does is ask Matt to turn off his music. She has a sense of self she will assert.
- Ryan is having a hard time keeping her lunch down.
- No one listens to her. “Engineering admits that you warned us that this could happen, but that’s as close to an apology as you’re going to get from ‘em. We should have listened to you, doc.”
- Her life soon becomes a nightmare.
- We will eventually find out she has a tragic backstory: Her daughter died.
- She may feel totally unprepared but it’s been established right up front that she’s a genius in some areas, so we are able to invest in her. Only she could see the problem that she’s fixing. Matt tells her, “You’re the genius up here, I only drive the bus.”