Director Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a scientist on a space shuttle mission headed by astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), a talkative, charismatic leader full of colorful stories that he shares with his crewmates as well as mission control. As the two are on a space walk, debris hits the area where they are working, and soon the pair finds themselves detached from their ship and stranded in space. While figuring out what steps they can take to save themselves, Stone grapples with a painful past that makes her consider giving up altogether. Gravity screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.~Perry Seibert
The IMDB reviews are pretty accurate on this one. The Metascore of 96 is higher than historical blockbusters like Titanic (74) and Saving Private Ryan (90). Only topped by the likes of The Wizard of Oz, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Godfather, each at 100. What the plot lacked in complexity was more than made up for by the visual stimulation.
The cinematography is incredible! As detailed in the special features of the movie, every aspect, every line, every movement was scripted and well captured in film. The crew created new ways to manage lighting and exhibit the weightlessness of space. Surprisingly, similar to Avatar, most of the movie was created with CGI but looked as real as, well, being in space. They did an exceptional job of taking the viewer from the void of space to close-ups of the characters to actually inside of the astronauts' helmets to give a full depiction of being in the emptiness of space high above the earth.
The movie was action-packed, challenge after challenge to be introduced and conquered, pushing one's will to the brink. The overall plot was a bit extravagant but still within the realm of suspending disbelief. The 91 minutes went by quickly and put it near real-time. It was a long day! Definitely watch in Blue-ray format or better to fully appreciate the full visual effects.
Gravity features two eye-popping, near-perfect, top tier video transfers -- a 1080p/MVC-encoded 3D presentation and its 1080p/AVC-encoded 2D counterpart -- both of which have already solidified their place as two of the best Blu-ray presentations of 2014. Color and contrast are flawless, with excellent saturation, lifelike skintones, deep black levels and terrific shadow delineation. Detail is remarkably well-resolved too, with crisp, clean edge definition, wonderfully revealing fine textures and stunning close-ups. Notice the pinpoint stars. The hairs on Bullock's neck or the rough stubble on Clooney's chin. The fingerprints, smudges, dust and scratches on the space suit visors. The age and weathering on the metal tools and tethers Stone and Kowalski have to work with. The thousands and thousands of pieces of debris hurtling around the Earth. The ridges of the mountains and the swirling clouds on the face of the planet. Or the fact that, at the beginning of the film, you can spot Kowalski circling the NASA shuttle almost from the moment the ship comes into view far off in the distance. Just as outstanding is Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. There will be some who complain that the Blu-ray edition of Gravity doesn't include a 7.1 mix, and for good reason. But that by no means should be used to criticize the 5.1 lossless powerhouse we do have. The film's sound design plays a significant role in the experience and it's incredibly effective in the home theater environment. The eerie silence of space is punctuated by breathing, the smallest movements, vibrations traveling through space suits, static-laden NASA communication and other subtleties, all presented here impeccably. LFE output is aggressive, sometimes downright vindictive. (as reviewed by Blu-ray.com)
While space adventures like Star Wars and Star Trek are and always will be the epic space dramas that dreams are made of, filmmakers really haven't spent enough time on "down-to-earth" pictures that depict humanity's current explorations in space. Humanity's story began with small-scale satellite-building stories on the outskirts of the Earth and minor, yet important trips to the moon. However, rarely do space adventures hit the big screen without an asteroid plummeting towards Earth, aliens launching invasions, or at least someone having a close encounter - most likely of the third kind. Realistic films about space exploration have been few and far between, the most memorable of which came in 1995's Academy Award nominated drama, Apollo 13. Since then, space has basically been treated like a hostile villain, portrayed as the setting of chaos and conflict - much as it is in the already highly praised space drama, Gravity.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Great Expectations), Gravity stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, an engineer on her first outer space mission. Her commander, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), is overseeing his last mission as his team orbits the Earth when Mission Control suddenly aborts the mission as satellite debris is quickly confirmed to be on a collision course with the team's location. Unfortunately, the team is unable to defend themselves and the debris massively damages their shuttle and equipment, also thrusting the pair into space. Running low on air and with only limited opinions, Stone and Kowalski are forced to use what means they have left to attempt to make their way to a distant orbiting space station in hopes of using an escape pod to return to Earth. The voices of Ed Harris, Paul Sharma, and Basher Savage also star in supporting roles.
For all of this film's achievements (and we'll get to them), Gravity is still far from the perfect film that many make it out to be. At the end of the day, the film's story is the only substantial hang-up. You can sit and marvel at how this film looks, praise the acting, and even embrace the idea of coughing up extra money to see the film in IMAX 3D - but, the end result and the overall impact of the film simply doesn't get the job done. Maybe it's just me (and that's very possible), but this film leaves a gaping void of borderline irrelevance and eventual unimportance. The story doesn't provide a knockout punch that an Academy Award winner should deliver. Gravity goes through a motion of floating from one dire straight to the next, easily making it understandable as to why this film only goes on for only a brief 90 minutes. There are only so many different places you can float to in outer space before the question of whether or not these characters live or die needs to be answered. The climax of this flick is foreseeable, and easily forgettable.
We can now move on to the film's outstanding achievements - and there are many. By now, you might have heard that Sandra Bullock wasn't the first choice to play Dr. Ryan Stone. Actually, she wasn't even the second, third, or fourth choice. However, director and co-writer Alfonso Cuarón should be thanking his lucky stars (no pun intended) that he landed this A-list actress. Most actors/actresses will tell you that acting on screen alone, without anyone else in the conversation is a complex, often taxing endeavor. Fortunately for everyone (viewers included), Bullock does a phenomenally job working through her character's various, heart-wrenching emotional states. Her character is full of fear from even the very beginning, but manages to face down each dire scenario, refusing to be fully engulfed by the constant fear of potential doom.
While Bullock is the domineering presence in this film, Clooney spends his limited presence portraying a character that's completely opposite in nearly every possible way. He's cool, calm, and collected - even after a debris storm reduces the duo's likelihood of surviving to nearly nothing. Clooney brings to the table everything we've all grown to love about the charismatic gentlemen, full of whit and poise. Combined, the efforts of Bullock and Clooney make for an unstoppable force of chemistry, and by the time the film concludes, it will be incredibly difficult to imagine any other actors or actresses in these two well-written roles.
Without a doubt, Gravity is a beautifully visual film, providing a mesmerizing view of Earth from our planet's orbit. In fact, it's so beautiful that it might be hard to get past the fact that it's actually CGI. Sure, the film might be a bit CGI heavy at times, which will be abundantly evident in some portions of the film more than others, but for the most part it provides for an absolutely flawless experience - sparing no expense, I'm sure. The eye-catching realism is quite breathtaking, often so convincing that you'll nearly forget you're watching a movie. During the thrilling action sequences, don't be surprised when you find yourself lost in the moment, easily becoming engulfed in the array of panic that would likely leave most of us screaming in pure horror. In other words, you'll be happy to be in a theater watching the events of this film, rather than in outer space dealing with the unimaginable living-changing experiences capture over the course of this film.
Overall, Gravity is going to be all the rage at the box office and understandably so - yet at the end of the day, it's not as epic as the spectacular space drama, Apollo 13. The hype has been built so high for Gravity that not even the Earth's atmosphere could hold it down - but after the film levels off a bit, hopefully viewers will come to terms with the fact that Gravity is simply a forgettable piece of filmmaking. That doesn't mean you should discount the experience of this film (which everyone should witness at least once), but this film is limited by a simple story and visual effects (in all their glory) that some filmmaker will no doubt elapse in the near future. Sandra Bullock (and likely the film's visual achievements) will garner quite a bit of attention during award season, but ultimately there's very little that sets her performance ahead of an unmemorable role that parallels Tom Hanks in Cast Away. In the end, Gravity provides outstanding, yet brief cinematic enjoyment, although I fear this film will eventually crash land in the "good, but forgettable" category of film.