Gravity, Bullock, Clooney

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in "Gravity." (Warner Bros. Pictures / August 6, 2013)

Is "Gravity" a sure-fire Oscar bet or already the most overhyped movie of 2013? The Sandra Bullock-George Clooney astronauts-in-distress movie soared to the top spot at the box office last weekend. Scientists have their quibbles, but movie critics seem to love it.

Weigh in and ask questions during a live chat about the movie at noon Pacific time today with Times film critic Kenneth Turan and Hollywood awards guru Glenn Whipp. We'll also take questions via Twitter using the hashtag #gravityLAT.

Some NASA employees advised on "Gravity" -- before shooting, Bullock spoke with astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman, who has logged more than 4,330 hours in space aboard the Columbia shuttle and the International Space Station, while astronaut Andrew Thomas consulted with the filmmakers "as a private citizen," according to a spokesperson for the agency. NASA did not, however, provide the kind of production support it did for the 2011 action movie "Transformers: Dark of Moon," which filmed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida -- with shuttle workers even appearing as extras.

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One person who worked on "Gravity" said NASA declined to advise on it in an official capacity because of its portrayal of the dangers of space travel.

Astronaut Mike Massimino, who has participated in question-and-answer sessions at public screenings of the film, said that, overall, he saw the movie as a plus for the agency.

"I would go so far as to say I think it's going to inspire some young people. The exposure of it will hopefully get people interested in what NASA is doing," he said. "The way the characters are portrayed is as real people. A lot of times astronauts are shown as stiff, smart mathematicians. The Sandra Bullock character is very human."

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Reviewing the film, Turan said: " 'Gravity' is out of this world. Words can do little to convey the visual astonishment this space opera creates. It is a film whose impact must be experienced in 3-D on a theatrical screen to be fully understood."

Do you agree? Weigh in today at noon.

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