Monday, February 6, 2017


I mentioned last month in my blog for Christmas Eve that I am a fan of films that spend a majority of their time in a single setting. I am also a fan of sci-fi. 2013’s Gravity (trailer) is what happens when you have a sci-fi take on that trope, but with the single setting being the deceptively large, vast, darkness of space.

Gravity is about astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) surviving in space after a freak space debris collision knocks out their space shuttle and kills the rest of their crew in the opening minutes. From there, Stone and Kowalski must find a seemingly impossible way out of their predicament and form an exit plan to make it back to earth and overcome all kinds of insurmountable odds that space throws in their way.

This was one of the few films I went out of my way to see twice in theaters. I wish I could say that my reason for doing so was because Gravity broke new walls for state-of-the-art special effects and cinematography. It came as no surprise that nearly all of Gravity’s seven Oscars it won were primarily for technical awards because of how spectacular it looked. No, my reason was because one of the friends I saw it with happened to consume a few too many beverages in anticipation and got a little too excited throughout the film. Buddy, if you are reading this I do not want this to come off as me calling you out, because I still look back at that day and laugh from an unforgettable theatrical experience. That personal anecdote out of the way, part of me still wanted to take it all in again on the big screen alone. I am glad I did because Gravity is a showpiece film that benefits from being on the big screen and having a loaded surround sound setup.

Clooney and Bullock play off each other tremendously well and the two have an obvious chemistry that is clicking on all fronts. When their mission takes a turn about a third of the way into the feature, Sandra steps up her role going forward as the novice astronaut who has to pull it together in order to get back home. Stone reveals some personal anecdotes about herself throughout the film, and the film succeeds in relating to her survival being a rebirth for herself in a few pivotal moments of the film. If there was a part of the film I would have to nitpick, it is that Bullock has a couple monologue moments that come off cheesy than the inspirational feelings I think she was going for. However, looking back on it I am thinking that is now by design because Bullock’s character was not one I imagined would give those speeches at the beginning of Gravity, but her new initiative dug out new feelings in her that were not quite as polished and resulted in the intentional stiff delivery. Maybe I am over-thinking it, but if that is the case, then count me in and ignore my ramblings in this paragraph!

The high-tension moments when Ryan and Stone have to deal with space debris sailing by them at instant-death speeds, and the duo dodging and weaving from all kinds of explosions that result from the space debris provide many proverbial ‘edge-of-my-seat’ moments that still hold up today four years later. The cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki and the team of composers and sound mixers earned their Oscars here as the scenes are indescribably powerful as a result of their masterful work. The entire film looks simply dazzling on my ancient, 10-year old HDTV on BluRay. If Gravity gets a 4K UHD release, it would easily be one of the first films I pick up on that format whenever I make the jump to a 4KTV.

It comes as no surprise with Gravity having such standout special effects, that there a ton of extra features devoted to it. The primary one is titled, Mission Control which is a nine-part feature totaling an hour and 46 minutes, which is about 18 minutes longer than the actual film itself. Each aspect of effects like cinematography, camera work, costume design, CG and the score receive their own feature dedicated to how the team pulled off their stunning audio and visual milestones. There were a few moments where the interviews here went deep into the nuts and bolts of the process and parts of it went over my head, but I was expecting that to happen a few times given its length and the ground it covers. As comprehensive and well produced Mission Control is, I find it hard to recommend to watch all of it due to its daunting length. It is broken down by nine parts, so you would probably be best by picking the parts of the production process that intrigue you the most.

Shot Breakdown dissects five scenes in the film and explains the special effects for each of them. It clocks in at 37 minutes and probably best applies to only special effect junkies. There is also a 22 minute documentary I would recommend checking out called Collision Point that is about raising the awareness of space debris and what is being done to help reduce it in the future. Finally, there is an eight minute short film, along with a two minute introduction by the filmmakers I highly suggest checking out. If you recall, Bullock’s character has a radio conversation about midway through the film with another party who does not speak English. This short film reveals who that person is and what they were in the middle of when they start talking to Ryan.

Gravity is my favorite film of 2013, and I am kicking myself for waiting this long to finally get around to watching the BluRay. It is unlike any other sci-fi movie before it. If this one went underneath your radar then, by all means please give it a chance and make sure to crank up the volume and be prepared to be stunned.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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