Friday, October 4, 2013

Gravity 3D Review

The film Gravity starts with a shot of earth. It's a big blue planet that fills the darkness of space. We hear radio chatter. And slowly from the right comes the space shuttle Explorer. This gentle, poetic scene lasts much longer than many scenes in modern films which would favor fast cutting. Such a scene would drive directors like Michael Bay or J.J. Abrams crazy for its slowness. But that's the beauty of Gravity. Director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) is unafraid of letting a fascinating visual speak rather than worry about the audience getting bored. And the great thing about this movie is that Cuarón uses many such shots.

Gravity starts with the space shuttle Explorer attached to the Hubble telescope. Astronauts Matt Kowalski, (George Clooney) who has a penchant for retelling stories about his love life and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) are repairing the telescope. The Russians destroy one of their satellites and the debris starts to destroy other satellites thereby sending more debris into space. Some of this debris destroys the Explorer. Astronauts Kowalski and Stone are stranded. Their only way to survive is to make their way to the International Space Station which has been evacuated due to accident. The hope is that one of the Soyuz ships is still there.

The movie's screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón is well written with good character development. The movie has many taut, exciting moments. But much of this film works because of Cuarón's direction. As stated before, he's not worried that the audience will get bored and use camera gymnastics to keep the interest. There are many long, epic scenes without fast cutting. I love it the way the camera follows the floating astronauts. Cuaron also creates disorientation when characters are hurled into space due to the lack of gravity. Cuarón's eye for action set pieces is also logical so you know what is happening without dialogue. And kudos to the special effects team. You really feel as if Gravity was filmed in space. I also appreciate the small nods to other science fiction movies such as Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also welcome are the gentle metaphors to the family of man.

As for Sandra Bullock, this might be her finest work. She demonstrates fear without hysteria. There's sadness, despair, love, bravery and hope in her performance.

The movie does have some flaws. Much of the live action was shot in 2D. The CGI shots look to be shot native. So it's a hybrid. I agree with film critic Roger Ebert. You cannot make a 2D movie look like 3D. Without the 3D camera rig, you can't capture the light, shadow, angles, nooks and crannies. It's a pop up book. And you can tell in the live action scenes. The CGI works but frankly it's not special enough for me to recommend. Floating 3D pens don't mesh with 2D live action. You pay a premium for 3D. There are some neat shots with depth showing astronauts among the stars but that's about it. Go ahead and see this movie in 2D.

And without giving the plot away, the last twenty minutes will ask you to suspend disbelief. I mean you're going to have say to yourself as you watch the ending of this movie that there's luck, miracles or God. But maybe that's the point.

Gravity is a visually stunning and exciting science fiction movie. The grade is A.

Teaser trailer.

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