Gravity: the Good and the Bad
I went into this movie with very high expectations. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Oscar buzz. Alfonso Cuarón up for best director. I’m a bit late on my review, but I’ve only just watched it, so too bad. My reactions:
*Spoiler alert – duh*
Good & Bad: I watched this from a plane on the way to Toronto. Cool being in the air watching. Also very scary…
Onto the movie…
Good: the visuals. The effects and CGI were incredible. Simple. Watched it on a 8″ airplane screen, but I imagine that IMAX would be something special.
Bad: Sandra Bullock breathes heavily for a lot of this movie. I’m scared my mom would walk in on me and think I was watching something else.
Good: George Clooney. Man, he’s good. It’s an amazing thing to be in control of everything around you under intense pressure. I’m talking as an actor, not the character. He’s the type of actor who makes an audience feel comfortable.
Bad: one astronaut had a hole in his face after the crash. That’s rarely good. Won’t post a picture. You’re welcome.
Good: with very little to work with in terms of extraneous setting or props, this movie does an amazing job of setting up a very specific and strong relationship between Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in a very short amount of time.
Good: The length of the shots. I was about 8 minutes into the movie when I realized there hadn’t been a single cut. Turns out, the first shot lasts for 17 minutes. That’s insane. You can read more about this amazing shot, here.
Good: In terms of acting, I loved the simplicity of George Clooney making the decision to die. You can just picture how easy it would be to go overboard with that moment. His approach was simple. The Lesson: don’t over think. Just say the words.
Bad: “It’s not rocket science.” They just had to say it.
(Update: Sandra Bullock is still breathing hard.)
Good: What was cool was trying to figure out how they filmed all of this. DID THEY REALLY GO INTO SPACE?! No, voices inside my head. They did not. What they did use, however, was groundbreaking. Underwater shots, puppeteers, a two-ton rig that almost killed Sandra Bullock, and CGI. Its all really fascinating stuff that I won’t go into great detail about right now. However, you can read about it here and here.
Bad: Dr Stone is driving the ship, in space, all alone…and still managed to crash it.
Bad: “I hate space,” Dr Stone said, after debris crashed into her spaceship. MAAAYBE you shouldn’t have agreed to go into SPACE. I hate space, she says. Really.
Bad: George Clooney just appeared out of nowhere. The chances of this happening are literally 1 in a kajillion million zillion.
Good: George Clooney just appeared out of nowhere. We don’t have to listen to Sandra Bullock talk to herself anymore and break any more things.
Good: Typical relationship. Man: “I have a great idea that I haven’t thought through at all!” Woman: “You’re an idiot.”
Bad: Damnit! She hallucinated/saw him in her head! Must be on drugs. Maybe that’s why she’s breathing so hard. Still. Okay, I’m over it now.
Bad: I have a problem with the end of the movie. I get the whole ‘she’s finally on solid ground’ idea that they’re showing, and that’s fine. But now what? The radio is broken. Everything is broken. She stands up and walks down a beach by herself. Seems like this could be the middle of the movie. Is this how the Hobbit starts? Does NASA know where she is? Are they coming? Is George Clooney going to show up again? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
• Gravity is a very simple movie. The simplicity allows the audience to focus more on the specifics of the piece.
• The relationship between Clooney and Bullock is simple, yet powerful, strong and clear.
• The visuals are stunning. Amazing to think that we, as an audience, feel like we know what space looks and feels like, all because we watched a computerized version of it.
• George Clooney. His calm, yet intense presence captivated me. His choices were so strong. One of the actors that can make people want to act because he makes it look so easy. It’s almost detrimental to any actor trying to ‘make it,’ and here’s why: there are so many little things that he does subconsciously, or maybe more impressively, if he thinks about them, that make it seem effortless. When you watch him, you think, “Oh. I could do that.”
Then you try. And you realize how good he is.
• Sandra Bullock: It’s hard when my options are so black and white, but I suppose that’s the point of this blog. I put her under ‘good’ because, for 70% of the movie, she carried it by herself. From an acting standpoint, she was efficient and present, and she did a great job.
• The silence: the silence speaks volumes in this movie. The opening scene is almost too long, in that its uncomfortable. And that’s the point.
• It’s strength is also it’s weakness; it is a very simple movie. A lot of things go wrong, and nothing really gets resolved. The story moves from one problem to another, without resolution, and ends with a completely new problem: how does/will she get home?
• A drawback of watching one person carry an entire movie for an hour is just that: we have to watch one person for an hour. As impressive and connected as Sandra Bullock was, it’s hard to place an entire movie on one person’s shoulders.
Gravity is about the most terrifying thing imaginable: life in space, and further than that, being alone. That’s what its really about. Louis CK talks about how we deal with it in every day life. Entertaining and thought provoking, overall, it is a very good movie.
But if I was going to see this movie for the first time, I’d recommend watching in IMAX, not on a plane.