1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Watch in 3D on a big screen the special effects really are pretty convincing, and the film makes excellent use of surround sound, but the story is so daft and full of holes that it's difficult to really enjoy. For example, NASA's astronaut qualification is (understandably) immensely demanding, yet Bullock apparently has just 6 month's training, is a total emotional basket case, repeatedly flits between panic and resignation, and crashed every return craft simulator she was let loose on. On top of that there are numerous glaring technical slip-ups and inaccuracies, which anyone with even the most basic knowledge of space and the laws of physics will likely find irksome.
In summary, it's not a 'bad' film, and there are worse ways to spend 80 minutes; it's problem lies in the huge hype and awards, which lead you to have pretty high expectations, expectations which will ultimately be rather disappointed unless you're monumentally good at suspending your disbelief.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2014
While I saw Gravity in theaters during its initial run, I've now had the opportunity to re-watch it on Blu-ray. This review is for the 2D version of the movie as I do not currently own or have a 3D-capable HDTV at my convenience.
Gravity is Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón's latest feature (for which he received the Academy Award for Best Director), and what a ride it is! An emotional rollercoaster as well as a triumphant display of technical wizardry at its absolute best, Gravity is a true cinematic and sensory experience that is best experienced on the silver screen for the first time. It boasts a story that might seem barebones to some, but in actuality it benefits from this very aspect. NASA astronauts on a seemingly routine spacewalk to install a new component to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) are imperiled when calamity strikes in the shape of satellite debris, destroying their Space Shuttle, and leaving the surviving astronauts adrift in the dark void. Thence on, with what little hope (and delta-V) they have in reserve, they attempt to make their way to the International Space Station (ISS) to use one of its Soyuz craft as a means of escape back to Earth.
As mentioned above, the story's premise is simple enough: Stay alive, and try to get back home safely. What it lacks in complexity (which this type of story does not require) it abounds with in depth, as the struggle for survival becomes a personal journey of choosing life over mere survival; to live life because it is worth living, to move on from past tragedies which have embedded themselves onto, and dominated one's will to go on. All this as opposed to just drifting through life on auto-pilot, existing but not really living. For this, Sandra Bullock plays rookie astronaut - chiefly medical engineer - Ryan Stone, on her first Space Shuttle flight as Mission Specialist, and this is unquestionably the actress's finest performance. A role that could've been overplayed to death is instead handled with realism in Bullock's hands, and her emotional cues are the heart of the movie. But the performance is just as much a physical one as it is an emotionally cathartic one, as she has to move about acrobatically in the most limited way possible (check out the extras for more details). It's no wonder she received an Academy Award nomination, and although she did not win it, she clearly proved herself worthy of it. George Clooney's veteran astronaut Commander Matt Kowalski provides some levity in some of the movie's bleaker moments and is occasionally joking about so as to calm Stone after their initial encounter with the debris. Charming as ever, Clooney is perfect for the part, and comes off as confident and focused despite the circumstances.
But the other star of the movie - which makes the movie possible in the first place, is the visual effects (least surprising Oscar win ever). British VFX company Framestore's artists should pat their shoulders for their impeccable work on Gravity which can be described with a plethora of positive adjectives, but most fittingly as 'The Best Effects Work In Any Movie. Ever.' 'Convincing' hardly does them justice, but the important thing to remember is that they never upstage the movie or assume the spotlight, so to speak. They are there in order for the story to be told, and to be told well, and yet never are they overdone. Everything, the tech on display (the HST, the Space Shuttle, The ISS, the astronauts' suits), and every visible nut and bolt, fully immerse you into the outer space setting, with the Earth - so close and yet so far away - looming beautifully in practically every shot. And let's not forget the way things move in a micro-gravity environment. In short, Gravity is awe-inspiring to look at, for which I must also give brief mention of the immense contribution of the virtual cinematography by Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Again, Oscar win for Best Cinematography).
Gravity attempts to emulate the silence of space, but not without employing a few neat tricks. Sound is heard, but it is the sound coming from inside the astronauts' suits; the voices and breathing, the beeping alarms, the thuds felt as they come into contact with one thing or other. As such, the sound design is creative and very useful in establishing the claustrophobic interior of the suits contrasting with the endless - and soundless - vastness outside.
Last, but not least, is the amazing soundtrack by British composer Steven Price (also Oscar for Best Original Score), which plays throughout almost the entire movie and doesn't sound like any typical score I've heard, either. Since sound is used mainly for the interior of suits, the soundtrack is allowed to compensate for e.g. when debris impacts with a spacecraft, and the bass is prominent at such moments. Everything from mysterious and ambient, dark and terrifying, to outright inspiring is covered in what must be the best soundtrack in years (I've listened to it several times since the movie's theatrical run).
The Blu-ray's video transfer is fantastic, and so is the audio. Colour seems accurate, and the picture appears crisp and clean with the exception of a few instances where a mild level of grain or noise crops up a bit more than it does throughout the rest of the movie. It's not an issue, and only the hardiest of videophiles will have second thoughts about this purchase.
The Blu-ray is very heavy on bass, so be sure to try it out with a good audio system. As for some details, NASA communication and 'radio noise' in the background is audible, and the thuds of the space suits' interiors are particularly prominent throughout. All in all, it sounds great
Without going into the features in detail, Gravity has over two - maybe upwards of three - hours of special features from behind the scenes. I think there could have been some trailers and TV spots included, and maybe some concept art as well, but what is provided is interesting nonetheless.
A few thoughts first:
Some have complained about Gravity's scientific accuracy. But fret not as the filmmakers knew of some of the "mistakes" they would make beforehand. It all comes down to telling a story coherently, and thus some realism had to be sacrificed for the sake of drama. That's what movies are. I'm sure they could've handled it differently, but, as a result, the movie might've turned out too slow or focused on technical exposition to be suspenseful. Either way, it's not as big of an issue as some have suggested, as I, at least, found it hard not to get immersed. But that's just me.
And then there's the relatively "low" rating on Amazon, which I don't quite understand, but, suffice it to say, that despite people being entitled to their own opinions, you need not consider the 1- or 2-star ratings some user reviews seem to suggest the movie being worth. Whether or not one likes the movie, some admiration for the stellar craftsmanship invested into making Gravity must surely warrant a higher rating than that. Anyway...
Gravity is my favourite movie from 2013, and the best movie set in space in a long, long time. About time, I say. Boasting an inspiring tale of survival against impossible odds, Gravity is a mesmerizing suspense-thriller and an emotional rollercoaster from the first beat to the last. Oh, and need I say it... that looong take in the opening scene. Downright incredible. Gravity is a masterpiece and will surely, given enough time, be considered a classic down the road.