Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Get out your space suits and jet-packs, we're reviewing Gravity!

When a mission goes horribly wrong, medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) must find a way back to Earth on their own.

So first, just let me say that Gravity is AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH



Ok, I'm done.

Anyways. Yeah. Gravity is probably the best visual experience AND the best animated film of the year. This is DEFINITELY a movie you should see in theaters, in 3D, in IMAX, wherever you can, because there's not a frame that isn't beautiful or a scene that isn't cringe-inducingly tense. Unless, of course, you get motion-sickness from crazy camera movements and first-person views, then there's probably no way you could see this without throwing up.

Yes! First-person view! Several sequences, in fact! It's one of the few movies where it works perfectly, to the point you might not even notice it is first person unless you were looking for it. The cinematography of this is a marvel. You can tell that they painstakingly figured out how everything was going to be shot in grueling detail before anything was put to film. There's barely any cutting, focusing more on continuous shots, most of which I have no idea how they did. The first 15 to 20 minutes are one continuous shot, having the camera seamlessly follow one astronaut after another in third person or first person, focusing on different details, panning out and in, and going through calm and panic and tumbling. It makes you feel like you're an omniscient documentary filmmaker, panning out and zooming in on different details at your leisure. This is a film you should study shots and storyboarding from.

It is SUCH a gorgeous film. The CGI is rendered perfectly. In a way, it looks sublimely realistic. There are so many stills that could be turned into wallpapers. Everything has weight and floats realistically in space. Tears and fire float in the atmosphere. It's gorgeous. There are so many great shots! From debris falling to the Earth, to soundless explosions in space, to Stone cradling herself into the fetal position in zero-G; if you can stand the tension you'll probably want to see it again just for the beauty.

More than the visuals of tumbling through the vacuum of space, this is the kind of tense movie where nothing ever goes right for the heroes, ever. They may get the slightest of moments to take a breath and then it's right back into the jaws of danger. You just want these people to get home safe and the movie. Will. Not. LET. THEM. Stupid space! I love how tense it is, but I imagine this is going to be the movie that kills kids' dreams of being astronauts, like Jaws killed the beach attendants in the 70's. Just a whole big plate of NOPE. 

It's a gorgeously complicated film, while also very minimalist. It only focuses on the two astronauts, and the only story is them trying to get home. With this and Pacific Rim, there seems to be a resurgence on beautiful, technically-proficient-yet-simple stories. There's some question over what caused the accident that started their whole tumult in space, and more strange occurrences arise later, they are never explained. You never find out why it happened, or if there's something sinister going on, and I actually like that. It doesn't turn into a generic action film where they have to stop the Russians and Chinese from nuking the US, they just want to get fucking home. I'm fine with that. Still, the story has some surprising twists and turns! 

It all hangs on the performances of its two actors, Clooney and Bullock, and they both knock it out of the park. Clooney is fun as a smarmy-yet-calm Neil Armstrong type, but Bullock is the one who really brings it home. With this and The Heat, she's having a fantastic year, and this is easily her best dramatic performance ever. Stone is out of her league, flying through space having only received 6 months of training, and because of her past, she doesn't even know if it's worth going home. It's a great gut-wrenching performance. The movie might not pass the Bechdel test, but it performs a perfect K-O with the Mako test. Also, she has a cute haircut and flies around in her underwear a lot, so there you go. 

The soundtrack is fantastic. At times it can be light and calming, at other times it's oppressive and thrilling, and at yet other times it's simply terrifying. It reminds me of the Oblivion soundtrack, but if it was a horror movie. It does a great job of setting the proper mood for each scene.

Gravity is the kind of experience 3D and giant movie screens were created for. If you can stand being terrified and possibly nauseated, then you absolutely have to see it in theaters. 

THE GOOD: Great cast, great performances, beautifully shot, great cinematography, simple story, great 3D, beautiful animation, great female character.

THE BAD: might cause motion sickness, doesn't answer specific questions about the story.

THE VERDICT: $$$$$ See it! In 3D or IMAX preferably. It is such a crazy movie and deserves all of the awards. 

MOVIES LIKE IT: Lockout, Apollo 13, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Pacific Rim, Wall-E

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Stone and Kowalsky must travel to a near-by Russian space station together on the only jet-pack, with Stone losing oxygen quickly. They're just riding along, in the emptiness of space, trying to stay alive. Kowalsky chats to keep the mood light. It's a calm yet tense scene, and only gets more tense when they come closer and closer to the space station, the fuel dwindling, dwindling- NOPE. NOPE NOPE AAAAAAHHHHHH!

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