3D has been proven popular with movie goers and directors alike, but for the most part the films chosen for the 3D treatment don’t necessarily even need to go down that route. It’s primarily used for a quick cash grab and a good excuse to flex the technology muscle. That is not the attitude toward Gravity which I think is the only truly film to use 3D to its full potential. It is the best use of 3D ever and no other movie comes even close with its visuals, scope, vision and landscape. It is a true experience and one of a kind technical marvel that must be seen to be believed in every sense of the word.
Gravity had a lot to live up to even before hitting the screen. It seemed impossible to film but the first trailers showed that it welcomes all the high expectations. The spectacular special effects showed it to be a true diamond in the rough, allowing you a window into a world you’ve never seen this way before. It’s so easy to get lost in the horrifying wonders of space that it’s a literal feast for your eyes. You will not want it to end and your brain will marvel and try to keep up with the beauty. Director Alfonso Cuarón has done so much more for 3D than anyone ever intended. You could pay the regular price for a standard viewing but I don’t see why anyone would want to do that. It’s downright criminal to deprive yourself of something this gorgeous. And of course to no ones surprise, the stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock look even more beautiful in the third dimension. It’s one of the best sci-fi thrillers of all time right up next to Alien and 2001. If there ever was a movie to show how awful and terrifying space can be this is it. The previous films mentioned showed a future perspective of what may come but having a more down to earth present setting sets this apart. Every single thing that you think can’t and won’t go wrong does go wrong. The unpredictability of life on earth is magnified by the unpredictability of life in space.
You can’t help but root and care for the two main characters, hoping they survive the awful ordeal. But every close call and near death experience makes it impossible for you to believe if they will ever get out of it alive. Seeming as the movie only has two actors you’d think they wouldn’t have enough to carry the brunt load of the entire film. But that is clearly not the case here as they both perform extremely well here. The script wasn’t as deep, vast or expanding as the space they inhabited, but it didn’t have to be. The script was more than enough for the characters to sink and delve into. Anyone expecting useless character developments or unwanted emotional turns need not apply. No need abusing the audience’s intelligence. George Clooney plays lead astronaut Matt Kowalski in a charming matter most befitting of himself. It’s been done before but I’d be hard-pressed to not be impressed by any of his performances. His charming cool is rather infectious, going well against the hectic danger surrounding him and his partner. He also provides some comic relief, something that is needed in such a nonstop exciting picture. Sandra Bullock was also great as the less than experienced counterpart Ryan Stone. Her manic nature and tendency to be unsure of herself goes well against Clooney’s cool as a cucumber stance. That makes it all the more heartbreaking to see her struggle in the face of death and danger. By having it set in an amazing setting, the juxtaposition of both characters is the rightful anchor to get you emotionally involved with their plight.
As minimal as the story was, I really liked it and proved to be really effective to the main characters. A more developed story or backstory to the main characters would’ve been unnecessary, as a more simplistic approach matched better with the space setting. The fight for survival is more than enough story to propel the movie along. It’s wholly original in a new setting, told in a different way. It’s hard to believe it’s only 90 minutes long when it feels more like two hours long. So much is packed in that you lose sense of time and like that it’s over. It starts off expectedly normal, but out of nowhere it hits you like a hammer and doesn’t let up. Like a bad horror movie, just when you think everything is alright after the hero kills the bad guy for good it starts up all over again worse than before. Alfonso Cuarón is fast becoming one of the true great masters of directing. Only directing four films overall, he quickly shows his originality to detail and panache for hard hitting action. The continuous shot he revolutionized in Children of Men is used very periodically here to perfection. A movie like this was begging for continuous sequences of thrilling action.
At times it felt like a horror movie and it makes sense that it would feel that way. Space is the scariest, most unpredictable and powerful landscape man has ever encountered. When you’re trying to survive the elements, it’s all the more terrifying when you’re in a setting that isn’t made for anyone to survive in. it felt really natural because it was and the production team did everything they could to realistically portray space. When you’re in such a setting it behooves you to do it justice and I always love it when they portray it realistically. Nothing was spared to get every detail right. But that’s not saying some liberties were taken for dramatic, emotional or storyline purposes. All movies do that so it is no big deal. The liberties chosen made sense in the context of the movie and shouldn’t denounce the joy of the film. If Armageddon is everything that was wrong with space travel and on a lesser note storytelling, character and film making in general this would be the antithesis of that in every single way.
The music was just as thrilling and exciting as anything that was shown on screen. Steven Price did an amazing job composing, by not only heightening the suspense but mimicking the beating heart within the composition. That huge detail put the excitement at another level for me altogether. You’re already in their world with the 3D, but the beating heart puts you in their suits for brief moments. It makes it so much more engrossing. The cinematography showed you as much realistically beautiful cosmos as you will ever see. Emmanuel Lubezki paints gorgeous moving scenes with the camera as you wish you could see the image for a few seconds longer. It’s sometimes hard to focus on what’s happening since the images are so awe inspiring. Repeat viewings with the sound off would be required to get the full appreciation and attention to detail it deserves. But a complete experience would have to be seen in IMAX 3D. No matter the price it will be worth it.
Gravity raised the bar for the one of a kind cinematic experience that will not be something that will be duplicated often. In a world where everything is duplicated, that’s a comforting sentiment. 3D is quickly becoming treated as a gift, something to be overused and later forgotten. This groundbreaking tool should be treated as a privilege, one of a kind and for the truly honorable. Seeing it abused so often only devalues it more and more to where no one will bother to buy the ticket. It’s truly one of a kind, setting a benchmark for future filmmakers pushing the boundaries of where movies can go. Watching this movie, it saddens and angers me that NASA doesn’t get the respect, money and admiration it deserves. With only 500 or so astronauts have ever been in space, it’s something that not everybody can do but something that we as a country and planet need to do. Seeing them fight to survive in the final frontier was shocking and horrifying. I along with countless kids wanted to be an astronaut but not knowing the tangibles. The result was nothing I could have ever thought of. But it’s a ride I’m glad I took. Simply put this is one of the best immersive movie experiences I’ve ever had and as close as anyone would get to space without actually going there. Five spacesuits out of five.