GRAVITY Review - March 2014
Good old gravity, hey? It never lets you down. That is unless the space station you’re working on gets hit by high speed, galactic debris. And with that, Hit 66 Sound and Screen welcomes you back, for our review of the 2013 box office smash, ‘Gravity.’
Now, if you haven’t seen the film, you have no doubt heard the press: This movie blew people away. Including the Academy Award folks, where the picture picked up a slew of technical awards and ‘Best Director’ for Alfonso Cuarón. There in lies the rub. But we’ll get to that.
In brief: After the satellite they are repairing is hit by debris from a destroyed Russian sister satellite, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski) are left adrift in space. They then face a number of life and death challenges trying to reach safety on ANOTHER abandoned Chinese station. This is the plot. But then again, who really cares about that right now.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most visually stunning films ever created. A technical wonder, easily on par with ‘Avatar’ in terms of its CG achievements and its cultural impact. You have never seen anything like this before. From the opening 7 minute single take shot of the astronauts outside the satellite, to the stunning push-in close up of Bullocks face, that goes inside her helmet and becomes a POV (point of view) shot. Every frame is carefully crafted and perfectly executed. Equally impressive is the sound design and editing. As in space, there is nothing to carry sound, so every explosion or impact is met with a dull hum and thud. Making the claustrophobic nature of the whole film feel even more ‘hand around your throat.’
To this end, Cuaron is well deserving of his awards. But as a writer...he’s a very good director. The film suffers in the same way that ‘Avatar’ did: The story, is nothing special. Yes, the set pieces are stunning and the tension palpable but the characters and dialog lay on the screen like many dead fish. Clooney and Bullock (the only features to be ACTUALLY photographed, was their heads) do the best they can with a weak and common script but both have trouble with their paper thin characters. Clooney’s ‘good old boy’ swagger and playing of cowboy music is irritating and Bullock’s fearful rookie is hampered with the death of her daughter. A sub plot that is almost manipulative.
With it’s not so subtle metaphor of death and rebirth (we even get to see Bullock in the ‘womb’) ‘Gravity’ is trying to say something important about humanity. The problem is, it’s shouting it in our faces.
The film is still a must watch, for no other reason than the visual feast. If you are watching it on DVD you will lament not catching it in IMAX 3D. For all intents and purposes, I’m not a huge fan of 3D. It is over used and a fad; however, this is a picture that deserves and relishes such treatment. With a better script, it could have been a classic.
Reviewed By Regan Wood