Monday, October 14, 2013

Gravity keeps you on the edge of your seat

A dazzling array of effects and an unbeatable performance from two prolific actors makes Gravity a box office pull. 

Warning: Spoilers aplenty ahead! To fully discuss this film we will need to divulge
story detail so if you haven't seen Gravity, please do so first. 


ARTH VADER (AV): The Gravity screenplay was written by acclaimed director Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter, Children of Men) with his son, Jonas. This movie was rumored to have been "in the can" for years, because incumbent movie house, Warner Brothers supposedly didn't know what to do with it so it was shelved until a recent push got it in rotation for release. This beautifully crafted stand-alone story happens in no particular time but it's story arc depends on the use of the Space Shuttle Endeavor (SSE) – now grounded (in the real world) along with the rest of the Space Shuttle fleet. The film even implies the International Space Station (ISS) is unfinished. So we know it's frame of context is a few years ago. What did you think of this movie's premise, Pontificator?

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): I think this film is the closest representation of actually being is space of any other film ever made. The only way this can be improved would be to install some Disney-like mechanism to simulate weightlessness and add movement. I couldn’t help but to reflect about how real this film made space...and how real scary space is.


AV: This movie's entire experience revolves around two characters; Astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) as the two characters maintain a complex and engaging relationship. The two then suddenly are forced to work through cataclysmic events that fictionally occur some 90 miles above the Earth. Which brings me to the scenery. I have just one thing to say about the cinematography in Gravity: OMG.

I have literally not seen visual effects this stunning since maybe Avatar and the direction of this movie is brilliant as it is all set in space all CGI'd and indescribably gorgeous. The direction is masterfully handled to give a sense of awe and incalculable depth with Mother Earth as the backdrop. Thoughts, Pontificator?

TP: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock...both great actors for which I can recall both good and bad past performances, but in this film, they are nothing short of spectacular. For a film that is only an hour and a half long, they were believable and developed their characters well, drawing me in so that I cared what was happening to them...and the direction of the film made it feel like it was all also happening to me. Simply superb in casting choices, acting and directing.

AV: While it is fair to say this entire movie is one big effects shot, I have got to say, I barely noticed. The viewer is totaled immersed into an unexpected orbital drama as it unfolds. Gravity was shot in 3D and was intended to be a total immersion into the environment and the pure beauty and splendor of the Earth as a backdrop makes for a gripping, visually stunning film. Watching Bullock's tears break free of her tear duct and come spiraling toward me in 3D is a movie visual I will not soon forget.  Tell me where you weigh-in here, Ponty, but the scenes incorporating the spacewalks, miles above the Earth will be as memorable 20 years form now as they were the night I first watched this film. 

TP: This is where the film takes off Vader. As if having a great story and stellar performances wasn’t enough, the special effects brought space into the theater. As is my new standard, I will always opt to see a film in IMAX 3D... and for this film, there really is no better way to experience it. I can’t count the number of times I winced and flinched as debris leapt off the screen. It was pure brilliance when the camera, focused from outside the space suit, kept zooming in and subtly rotated, putting you inside the suit... feeling very claustrophobic and disoriented (constant spinning will do that). This film displayed the type of CGI that makes a movie exceptional, the type that simply cannot be detected and for which you don’t give a single thought about as the movie swallows your mind and emotions.


AV: This was the first film, at least in 2013, that made me feel emotional connectivity to the characters. This was  also the first movie in a long time that made me hang up my hang ups and just enjoy what was being presented. I dare say this was also the first 3D movie that made me jump and dodge when debris and shrapnel came barreling at me through events of the film. This film didn't make me watch, it made me emotionally invested in characters that had depth, meaning and shortcomings. To me, Ponty, this film epitomizes why we watch movies. The experience mattered. 

TP: I looked very deeply at this film Vader. I had no choice as I struggled to survive my ordeal in space. I was horrified at the death of my colleagues and was unprepared for the finality that punctuates the cold of space. I wanted to immediately put out that small pocket of fire I passed as I went into the next section of the station, I know how dangerous fire can be... especially in space, but I didn’t, and almost got toasted. I was sure I could save Matt, but he didn’t think so and took the decision out of my hands. I was sure I was hallucinating after he returned, when he opened the hatch and exposed me to space unprotected... and I didn’t die. I went through a lot to get back to Earth, and live life again... at least I think it was me. Such was the effect of this film, the power in both performance and cinematography that in taking a profound gaze, I became a part of everything that was going on. This is the type of experience all films should give us, but only a few can accomplish.


AV: My first response to this is no sequels, please, it's simply not that kind of film. If one views all movies as fodder for becoming cinematic series, trilogies or franchises, then we miss opportunities to tell rich, engaging and notable single stories that are free of follow-ups and t-shirt endorsements. Gravity also matters because it shares a potent story of human perseverance and we don't need sequels for that, we just need more of it. P-Man? 

TP: Vader, the only thing that can ruin this film is a sequel. I think it should stand alone as an absolute masterpiece of filmmaking, and not be marred by a sequel that won’t hold nearly as much...weight.


ARTH VADER rates Gravity: This film marks the first true cinematic Sci-Fi experience of 2013. An unbeatable set of very human performances from Clooney and Bullock, visual effects we will be talking about for years to come coupled with a frightening and heroic original story makes Gravity the must-see cinematic experience of the fall. This is what movies should be. I don't give perfect film reviews out lightly but gravity, sends ten (10) busted blocks into the stratosphere… and I expect this film will do quite well come award show season. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Gravity: From the moment the film began, and I was greeted with a spectacular view of our planet, I knew this was going to be something special. No aliens, no battles, no warp speeds... just people doing their jobs, and faced with an unfortunate situation... in an environment that is exceptionally beautiful, while being deceptively hostile. This is a survival story, that burned up nine (9) blocks on reentry.

Gravity: 9.5 / 10 Busted Blocks
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