Comparison: 2 Survival Movies


My family likes to discuss and analyze movies after we watch them.

There are two fine movies we watched where the theme was survival.

Both movies have been given critical acclaim and awards. They have

outstanding casts and performances. One is about man against the

sea while the other one is astronauts against the odds, up in Space.

My brothers, particularly, are science-oriented, while I am more into

character development and overall “impressions” or “feelings.” I liked

both of these movies, for different reasons. We agreed the following

movies are worth your time, if you have not already seen them:


1.  2013’s “All Is Lost,” with Robert Redford,  playing a man who has

decided to embark on an ocean adventure aboard a boat. It is directed

by J.C. Chandor, who also wrote the intensely fascinating screenplay.

This story is about a veteran and resourceful sailor lost at sea, in the

Indian Ocean, when the movie opens.

Having been a member of Mariner Scouts, co-ed sailing experiences

aboard sailboats on Lake Erie, I know I would not be fully prepared

for being stranded on a lake; let alone the barrage of challenges the

man is faced with in this film.

In most cases, the mariner (R. R.) is able to cope. For example, when

the boat fills up with water, he can use a hand operated pump to get

the water out of the boat. When he wishes to find his location, due

to loss of radio waves, he is forced to use a hand-held sexton. I was

amazed when I looked this navigational instrument up to find how

old this was. Before 1757, the sextant was built differently and was

called an ‘octant.’ Both devices use the angles of the sun’s position

to figure out location. It has to due with comparing two locations,

one can be ‘celestial’ and using the level of the water or the horizon,

as the other ‘fixed’ location. When the character is able to find a ‘busy

section of the ocean,’ which means it is a thoroughfare for water

vehicles, I am amazed.  But I believe this is possible due to his vast

knowledge about the sea. This is called ‘the shipping lanes’ in the

water of the ocean. He compares and measures them, using a map.

He is able to naviagate this way, which they show him carefully

calculating this procedure.


I don’t want to let you know any further details about this movie,

since you may sometime spend a few hours watching this great

actor, showing his ability to literally carry out many of the physical

tasks presented to him, as a strong, older man. Along with “carrying”

the whole movie on his shoulders, as an actor. My youngest brother

took it home from my Mom’s house, (where both brothers, Mom

and I had watched this) so that he could view this one more time.

This expresses something impressive to me. It means it was such a

powerful story, it captivated his interest enough to see it twice in one

weekend.  He will help ‘weigh in’ on the next movie’s review, too.


2.  2013’s “Gravity,” with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

playing two astronauts with different levels of experience, while

out on a space shuttle proceeding through what was supposed to

be a routine journey.

This movie was co-written by and directed by Alfonso Cuaron. It is

“billed” as a science fiction thriller, but many scenes seem very real

and believable. The astronauts who watched the private screening,

were pleased, overall, with the emotions and the beautiful filmography.

They may have seen some imperfections and mentioned them, along

with flaws in the details. They probably were thrilled to have been

asked along for the ride, since there were not many complaints among


My brothers both had a few times asked to ‘stop the movie,’ to rewind

along with discuss something that seemed to be ‘far-fetched.’ They

really felt the scene where the debris was flying at the astronauts,

shuold have sent them to hide behind the sturdy Hubble spacecraft.

Also, one brother felt that Matt (George Clooney’s character) should

have not been using up his extra energy and jet packs by ‘playing’

and ‘tooling around the stratosphere.’ He is often characterized as

an easy going character, this is true once again in the action movie,

“Gravity.” He has the qualities of ‘laid back’ and confident astronaut

definitely ‘down pat.’ Matt is senior officer and experienced veteran

while Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan is on her first mission. She is

the medical engineer. There were ‘holes’ in her choices, not showing

a strong ability to think ‘outside the box,’ nor being aware of her

surroundings. (She passes some wires that are giving off sparks,

but doesn’t think about potential fire danger. I gave a sharp intake

of breath, with a strong premonition when she did this. It was very

apparent to me; so not sure why Ryan doesn’t notice them.)

There are a lot of loopholes in “Gravity’s” plot. Which if I mentioned

all of them then you may not be surprised when they occur. If you

are like I am, you prefer to hear a short synapsis and not be given too

many plot devices. I am sure that this would not be a good review if I

let you know too much ahead of time. Nor will I reveal the endings of

either movie I am talking about.


Summary of Mom’s and My Opinion on Both Movies:

The way Mom and I are, we were enthralled by the way Earth and

Space looked. The much played comment by Matt (George Clooney)

in movie trailers was (paraphrased), “Enjoy the view.” This would

be our strongest reason to suggest you see, “Gravity.” It is why people

leaving theaters would be so excited. There are many positives that

outweigh the negatives.

When Mom and I watch movies, it takes a major upset to get us

to give up on a movie. We would have probably let the problems

within the scientific and technical realm, ‘go.’

We sometimes sit together, leaning against each other or holding

hands. The excitement and danger in both “All Is Lost” and “Gravity”

seemed quite realistic. We held on tight in several parts of the man

facing eminent death upon the sea and when the astronauts kept

drifting away from secure holds on their positions. Both movies tell

engrossing stories, gripping and holding your attention.


We felt when “Gravity” was finished, (Mom and I) one must suspend

your disbelief and enjoy the adventure of the movie.

When we concluded our discussion about “All Is Lost,” we felt this

could have represented a real person’s experiences. At the end, we

wished we could learn his name. It seemed totally believable, which

makes this movie almost like you could be able to read an autobiography

of this man.





44 responses »

  1. Hmm, I don’t know. It’s pretty easy for me to suspend disbelief with movies, whereas with a book I require more from it. Hubby puts movies on the TV for us to watch and he falls asleep and no matter how bad it is I usually finish (unless it’s way too violent). Then I forget most movies after I watch them. I am not sure if I’ve seen these movies or not!

    • I laugh a little with this hubby sleeping and you determined to see the ending. My Mom says she likes to forget the endings, so if she starts watching it again, it is still a “surprise ending,” Luanne. I am like you are with books, I enjoy details which seem realistic, historical fiction especially like to ‘learn’ about where I am spending time within the story. It is okay if you did or didn’t see them, since it was just nice of you to say something here.

  2. I missed out on a lot of current movies while we were traveling. I heard ‘Gravity’ was well acted, and your synopsis bears that out. I did not know about ‘All Is Lost.’ It sounds amazing with a great actor like when Tom Hanks starred in ‘Cast Away.’

    I managed to catch a preview of an upcoming movie, ‘Unbroken’ directed by Angelina Jolie, of all people. It is based on a true story. I remembered that because I read the book by Laura Hillenbrand, upon which the movie is based. Even if you do not go see the movie, I would encourage you to read the book, which Time magazine called ‘the best nonfiction book of the year (2010). It chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini

    • I am always grateful for book suggestions, Mike. I will try to get this soon, maybe during the winter months. I have three books on my bedside table, two are the ‘cat mystery’ series, where a journalist named Qwilleran has two Siamese cats, Yum Yum and Koko, who help him solve the mysteries. I liked the first ones in the sixties, since it had a lot of references to the newspaper world, along with his being given the Art Beat assignments for some of the ones in the 80’s. Lilian Jackson Braun writes these, and a coworker passes them to me, we are trying to stay ‘in order of time sequence.’ She also passed me a morgue mystery . .. with details from the coroner collaborating with the police detective. Cannot remember the author’s name. I have plans with my once a month guy friend, Bill to see the movie about Stephen Hawkings, it may be called, “Everything is Relative,” and we eat dinner together on First Friday. I would like to see the town tree’s lights turned on, but we may miss it due to the timing of movie times.

      I am sure traveling is much more valuable and memorable while in other countries, experiencing Life rather than watching movies, Mike!!

  3. I have seen both these movies 🙂 I LOVED ‘All Is Lost’ and thought it a powerful and gripping drama. The fact that it held me in it’s grip throughout speaks volumes, as I would not have chosen to see a movie about a man on a boat at sea. I thought RR deserved at the very least an Oscar for his performance and was quite stunned that he was passed over. I have sent most of my friends and family off to see this movie and all have been enthralled by it. We have many intense discussions about the ending.

    The other movie while enjoyable and with a great ending, had too many Hollywood effects that were even to my eyes, unrealistic – the meteor scene being one of them. That said I still enjoyed it, but wouldn’t choose to see it again. ‘All Is Lost’ has been added to my movie collection list.

    • Pauline, I am so excited that we saw ‘eye to eye’ on both of these movies! I enjoyed this nearly silent movie, was surprised since Robert Redford is an environmentalist and a natural philosopher, that he didn’t pepper this with comments or many words said at all, throughout. It was so quiet in my Mom’s living room where we gathered. We were mesmerized and I think it would be a lovely addition for a movie collection, too.
      I think he won some kind of New York film festival award but would have to go look at the film’s website, then would lose this first part of my comments…Maybe it was too ‘esoteric’ or ‘intellectual?’ I cannot figure out why he didn’t win any big awards…I think I said it was ‘critically acclaimed,’ which is true.

  4. I didn’t see the boat movie, Robin. And I must say that I thought “Gravity’ was very overrated. Maybe it was because I waited and watched it on my flat screen instead of in the theater, but the effects didn’t grab me, and the plot didn’t bowl me over, and the acting was OK. Oh, well.

    • I think the level of average movie goers’ intelligence is about like the ones who have decided newspapers can be written at sixth grade level. Maybe this is a rather ‘harsh’ thing to say…

      Anyway, Mark the acting was entertaining, the scenery was beautiful and I enjoyed “Gravity.”

      The intense drama of the ship in the ocean was magnificent. Sometime you and Karen, just get a nice pizza or something to sit and watch it. I feel it is like how there are people who sit for hours in Oceanariums or Aquariums and get engrossed in the silent world of the fish, octopi, and sharks…I would not wish to let you in on the ending, but I am going to say this: it is fully satisfying.

  5. I personallyliked Gravity more. Cinematography was too good, concept and the way movie keeps you hooked on your seat is remarkable. I will read the missed posts too, let me come back from jungle safari. Hopefully I should reach tomorrow.

    • I agree, he was a great actor in the movie, which was based on a famous journalist. This pushed him into a deeper level of character development. I will look up and do a p.s. but I think it was called, “And to all a Good Night,” but that may be another journalist, ha ha!
      I liked his character, Matt, and was hoping his visit with Sandra was real. No more details, since someone may have not seen it yet, but you know which scene I am referring to, right?
      I enjoyed the movie, “Monuments Men,” with the whole entourage of characters, George being right in the middle of the action. I was a little dismayed at the end of the movie, “Up in the Air,” what did you think of that one, Jen?
      Hugs if you have time to respond, but otherwise, no problem. Just rambling…. smiles

      • I was just a tad disappointed, but it made the ending more pleasant… Thanks for answering the question about “Up in the Air,” Jen! Hope you are enjoying and reveling in a quiet, peaceful weekend. Hope all is well with the Penguins and both your girls, too. Hugs to you and a handshake to Mr.S. ha ha! xo

  6. Hi. I’ve seen both of these films recently and was really interested in your comparison of them. I must say, I thought Gravity was seriously over-rated. I found it boring and unbelievable, relying far too heavily on the special effects(the end was a real cop out for us too). All is Lost was a surprise though. We watched it on TV as there didn’t seem to be anything else worth watching at the time. We were surprised how well Robert Redford carried the film with barely any dialogue. Although, we were a little bit sceptical about his calm demeanour, overall we thought this was a far superior one-person film that was both gripping and believable.

    • I am so glad you wrote this wonderful set of comments on my post about the two movies. I hope you will be patient with me, I rarely check my Waiting Approval area, so was surprised to see some nice people waiting for me to say I approved of their visits! I didn’t find Gravity boring, but appreciated your agreeing with my overall review, that the Robert Redford movie was far better, in terms of interest and believability, too. I hope you will come by for another visit, since I have a variety of interests and try to make my posts ‘not boring!’ smiles and hope to see you around, also will visit your blog, too!

  7. I’ve not seen either of these. I’m not a huge movie buff. But I do enjoy reviews and keep them in my head for when I would choose one. I think from this I would go with Robert Redford’s movie first.

    • It is a deeper level movie, which meant it got passed by for big awards but did get critically acclaimed. May I add, since this should not reveal too much. The ending is quite satisfying. I hate to let you know this, but when I went years ago to see, “Steel Magnolias,” I was not prepared to see Julia Roberts’ character die. Endings need a little prep, which most of the time, you hear, “this is a tear-jerker.” No worries about this, you are on the edge of your seat and it is a great movie, Colleen.
      On Friday evening, my friend Bill and I have our First Friday together, we have chosen to see the new Stephen Hawkings ‘college years’ biographical film. We are going to eat out, too. I hope to be able to witness the annual lighting of our town tree, but if I don’t….at least I know the tree stays lit the rest of the month.
      Smiles for your reading this and also, for your not minding movie reviews.

      • For not being a huge movie goer I’m not sure why I love reviews so much. 🙂 I do want to see the Stephen Hawking movie though. I hope you get to see the lighting!!!!

      • Thank you, Colleen. I am like this with art and music, may not always see the art I would like to, except online or listen to the music, but I am an avid reader of the entertainment news in the Columbus Dispatch and while visiting Mom, the Plain Dealer…
        I hope so, for the lighting, too! Smiles!

    • It is always good to rent a movie, you can build time in to discuss or rewind or question. I like to hear someone’s words over again, when they mumble. This is annoying also when movie music surges and the words are covered over. Oh, (excuse my frankness) it is always nice to build in time for snacks or bathroom breaks…especially with my Mom.

    • Barb, the best thing about movies is, you can fit them in when life slows down. If life is busy, full of real adventures- you don’t need movies! smiles! And you are welcome, my dear!

  8. Thank you, Robin, for the recommendations of movies. I will write these down. I’ve seen “All is Lost” as a selection, but not knowing it starred Robert Redford, I passed it on by. Now I WILL see it. As for “Gravity” that too I shall watch! When I am not working and elect to have a relax day, I either read a light book or get involved in a good movie. Thank you again!!! Love, Amy

    • I hope you are well and everything is okay now, Amy. I need to get over to check on you! I am sincerely recommending both for different reasons, as stated. Sometimes, it is great to watch a movie and just ‘escape’ into it, while the Robert Redford movie is serious and you may need to be in the ‘proper mood’ to watch it. I will let you know it has a satisfying ending. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Amy! Hugs, Robin

      • I really enjoy a good movie, Robin. I don’t watch junk, but usually stories that have much meaning. I will be watching both this weekend when I plan on giving me some chill time. (((HUGS))) Amy

  9. I haven’t seen “All is Lost” but after reading your post and some of the comments, I’d like to see it. Gravity was okay. If I hadn’t seen it in the theater, I probably wouldn’t have been that into it.

    • I agree with your take on ‘Gravity,’ but recommend it for entertainment purposes, since there are many ‘worse’ choices out there in the rental or library movies!

      Jill, are you going to watch, “Peter Pan,” tonight? I have been excited to go home at 7:30 pm and get my dinner rounded up by the television, with a warm blanket and dessert, too! Smiles!

      I wanted to let you know, my good friend Bill and I are going to see the movie about Stephen Hawking, as a young college man, “The Theory of Everything” and dinner out for our monthly First Friday. I am hoping we can fit the tree lighting ceremony in the center of town. I will probably post what I think about that movie…

      Oh, did you see the Hallmark movie with Jane Seymour and it was about a woman who falls in love with who she thinks is a regular guy going to college and it turns out he is of royalty? I watched that last night and enjoyed it, mostly predictable but satisfying… There was one little ‘shocking revelation,’ though. Let me know if you saw it, maybe we can chat about the butler…

      • Oh yes, there are definitely worse choices out there when it comes to video rental. I don’t think I’ve been to the movie theater since I saw “Gravity.”
        Ha ha! I knew you’d be rushing to watch “Peter Pan”…you’re so funny. You must be more of a night owl than I am, Robin. I’ll have to record it since I’ll be asleep by 9:00. I get up at 4:00 am, so I fall asleep early.
        Sounds like a nice evening with Bill! I’ll look forward to your review on “The Theory of Everything” and if there’s anything else “special” about the night…you can email me privately…ha ha. I know you’re friends, I’m just kidding.
        Oh yes! I watched that Hallmark movie last night. 🙂 Of course, I feel asleep before it was over so you might have to fill me in on the ‘shocking revelation.’ I wish I could stay awake. 🙂 The good thing about Hallmark Channel is they replay the movies, so I’m sure I can catch it again.
        Enjoy Peter Pan!

      • Jane Seymour’s character once was the butler’s lover, which means he has been her servant all these years, yet only up to the end, do they hug or hold hands. It is due to her realizing, almost too late, that love is very important, her son’s and her long-standing friend’s. Believe it or not, I am (again) tearing up over this revelation. What a good man he is, just makes me think of that Bette Midler’s song, about living in the shadow of someone. “Did you ever know you were my hero?” (Beneath My Wings) The butler gives her good advice about her son, which also opens her eyes again to Love. Sweet…

      • Oh, Jill, guess what? The movie is called, “Everything is Relative.” Einstein said the quote that begins, “Everything is relative. . .” which seems like the title of the movie. . .
        Hope you have a wonderful weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed “Peter Pan!” The songs, scenery and the characters dancing and acting made me quite happy, Jill! I get up at 5 am on Fridays which is a little better than your wake up time. I don’t have DVR! Smiles and yes, my eyes were drooping near the end!

  10. so funny robin, i happened to get both of these films from my library and watch them the same week. i felt that they were very similar, only in very different settings, and really one-person films – hard to pull off. both really make you think…

    • It is another of those silly coincidences, Beth! I am not sure how this happens but we are sometimes of ‘like’ minds or our thoughts are similar… I had to send to another library for a borrowing request of the “All is Lost,” whereas Delaware Library had a few copies of “Gravity.” I like your last statement, Beth, about both movies really make you think. I agree!

  11. I thought Gravity was okay. It’s funny you mentioned the sparks — I thought the same thing as she passed. (She was pretty traumatized, so I suppose we can blame it on that.) I don’t consider the film science fiction, though. Just taking place “in space” isn’t enough to make something “science fiction” — no one says Apollo 13 is SF, and Gravity is very similar.

    Some point out that the Hubble orbits nearly 100 miles higher than the ISS, so there’s no way they could have made their way from the telescope to the station. I think a bigger flaw is what happens to Clooney’s character. But whatever. It was okay, and very pretty to watch.

    Didn’t see the Redford movie. Just a comment about navigation. It’s very easy to determine your latitude (north of the equator, it’s exactly the same as the elevation of the North Star). But to determine your longitude you need a clock. An accurate clock.

    In fact, the requirements of sea navigation is part of the reason we have accurate clocks!

  12. Your reviews are well done, Robin, with excellent details and perspective. I’ve been drawn to survival movies ever since I was young and saw THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. There’s something about taking what little is left and making it into something essential and sustaining. I also love the old movies where “survival” has to happen somehow in just a short time, like Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman in WAIT UNTIL DARK.

  13. Great reviews Robin 🙂 I have watched both and loved both movies but if I had to choose I would say All is Lost is the better movie. I have to agree with you – RR was brilliant in it. I am passionate about saving our oceans and that scene in the movie with the tanker containers floating about and littering the Pacific just about made me want to pull my hair out. SO many marine animals wash up every year on our coast (Pacific) because they ingested plastic and other garbage …makes me sad 😦

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