All aboard the hype train! And for good reason; Lauren and I both saw Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron’s latest entry into the ‘Greatest Sci-fi Films of All Time’ list (alongside his Children of Men). We have decided to do a joint review in the format of our 10 Things posts. So without further, here are –
10 reasons why you need to see Gravity (at the cinema in 3D)
1. The Computer Graphics are mind-blowing
Irrespective of how good the 3D in Gravity is (hint we thinks its awesome – see point 4) this movie wouldn’t have worked if they hadn’t absolutely nailed the the fundamentals of the visual effects. Not only is Space the best Space we have ever seen (again skip to point 6), everything else in this film is tangible, vivid and completely believable.
2. If it doesn’t win an Oscar for Sound Design then the Oscars are more corrupt than we initially thought
The sound design is so well thought out, it made me giddy. When the astronauts are on their space walk, working on the space station, instead of hearing the sounds as external SFX, we hear them as vibrations through their suits and hands. It’s actually a case of ‘in space, no one can hear you scream’! And once the silent chaos ends, and we are in the ship, the clicks, whirrs and cracks of the space station become the percussive sounds of the rest of the movie. It really is something to behold.
3. You care about the Characters
It was always going to be difficult for the actors in Gravity. When the star of the show is the infinite wonder and beauty of Space, the actors were always going to be fighting an uphill battle to make their performance memorable, especially when everything else is being done so well. However, despite a rather lukewarm response to the performances in Gravity, both Bullock and Clooney are fantastic in their roles. Bullock manages to keep her performance reined in and, despite the temptation to push the performance into the hysterical, what she delivers is solid and mature.
4. The 3D is perfect
Hollywood, take note, you hacks. Stop retrofitting Marvel comic movies and provide a 3D camera to a creative team that cares about their project. Every shot is meticulously planned in Gravity, to the point of the movie being so full of depth it feels like it’s actually happening in front of you. A reason for the 3D working so well is because Cuaron has nailed representing zero gravity; the camera moves like it is in treacle, which means your eyes aren’t straining to stitch the stereoscopy together. No headaches, no light loss issues and I actually got 3D glasses that clipped onto my prescription lenses! It’s a win win win win win situation.
5. The POV shots work to perfection
The reason that Gravity immerses the audience so completely is Cuaron’s use of point of view shots throughout the film. When the characters are spinning so is the audience. We are expected to be active participants in the experience instead of passive bystanders. Its remarkable that not only has Cuaron achieved this but he has achieved this with 3D without it feeling like a gimmick or unnecessary.
6. Space feels like how we imagine space to be
I never have and will never go to space, so I can only imagine it looking almost exactly like what is shown in Gravity, just with marginally shittier lighting. Space is obviously not Star Wars or Star Trek, but Gravity feels a lot more realistic than anything I have ever seen in fiction film, despite it being a completely fabricated story. As mentioned, the zero gravity looks brilliant, the sound is excellent and Earth looks…magisterial. The first shot is absolutely stunning and almost worth the admission price alone.
7. Short, Sweet and to the Point
In an age when a cinema trip can easily eat up half your day Gravity came in at a delightful 90 mins. It really is direct, punchy and focused film making at its best.
8. As a spectacle, it’s the best film we’ve ever seen at the cinema
Gravity may not have a groundbreaking plot, and it’s certainly not the ‘best film’ we’ve ever seen at the cinema, but as a spectacle, this is how action movie cinema-going should make you feel; it’s a rollercoaster ride of epic visuals, fantastic sound and spectacular pacing. The Science Museum in London used to (it may still do) have a 3D simulator; about 16 people could fit in a weird, train cab-looking metal box, which wobbled you around while you watched a spaceship rocket around the galaxy. Our auditorium didn’t have any movement (aside from nerve-wracked bowels), but Gravity was even more thrilling than some rollercoasters on which we have been.
9. It’s not perfect – But I don’t care
Despite our obvious gushing there were elements of the film that didn’t always hit the mark. Some of the dialogue bordered on the saccharin and when you step back and look at some of the action sequences common sense dictates that how they played out on screen is quite far-fetched. However, it was only a week later when I was talking to someone who didn’t like the movie that I gave these thoughts any real credence. Yes, maybe it wasn’t a blow-by-blow accurate account of what might have happened in an actual space disaster, but was I in it from the moment the film started till the end? Yes. Yes I was. I didn’t breath for 90 minutes and that’s never happened to me before in the cinema.
10. I will survive
Survival narratives tap into the most raw aspects of our psyche, and Gravity uses that to tell a story of redemption and the will to survive. There were points during the film where I felt like it was slightly too nerve-wracking; there’s peril and there’s floating into space with an emptying tank of oxygen, which has to be one of the most horrific, lonely ways of potentially dying. We won’t give any spoilers, but despite the sometimes overwrought dialogue, Gravity will have you white knuckling for the protagonists throughout the film.
All that said, and it’s not a criticism, however the movie is clearly designed to be as immersive as possible, so seeing it in 2D in theatres or when it is released on VOD/DVD might provide a different experience to the one we shared. So put down whatever you are doing, reorganise your plans for tonight and go see Gravity; unless you are a completely cynical bastard you will not regret it.