Actual Rating: -5/5
The lowdown, a small team of astronauts are fixing the Hubble telescope when a field of lethal debris from a recent Russian missile strike on a satellite, hits them head on. The debris causes massive damage and strands our plucky heroes in orbit with virtually nowhere to go. From here on they must fight to survive by spacewalking to other nearby space stations to try and reach any remaining capsules so they can get back down to Earth.
OK so the first thing anyone with a brain will notice is the special effects, the visuals in general. Without trying to sound too deflating I have come to expect flashy super-duper effects from most modern films these days, its a given really isn't it, if the film doesn't look ultra amazing you'd be shocked. So while this film does have the perfect realistic look of a real NASA film from a real space mission...it somehow isn't overly mind blowing truth be told. It sure does look spot on for total scientific accuracy in every aspect from the space suits, the spacecraft, the space stations, cockpit controls, weightlessness, every little nut bolt and screw, and space physics in general.
So I can understand why this film won visual effects, kudos. But then we have the plot issues and accuracy issues, yeah yeah I know but come on, a big realistic film like this had better get its facts right...yes?, no. First off this Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite?? what the splodge was that about?!. Why would a country fire a missile at a defunct satellite firstly, surely this is bound to cause a chain reaction of problems. Secondly why blow up a satellite that no longer works? seems a bit over the top to me, surely you'd bring on international outrage doing this? causing a massive disaster in space, it just seems a really dumb decision. Then you have the fact that the astronauts lose contact with control completely, really? out of all the kit they have up there on various international platforms they still can't contact control! that's scary right there.
I won't go on about the technical issues as its nitpicking really...oh just one more. The astronauts travel between the Hubble, the ISS and the Chinese space station as if they are all in the same orbit!!. I'm afraid these objects are not in the same orbit and travelling between them would take some planning and a heck of a lot of fuel and oxygen, but hey kudos for trying anyway.
Whilst watching this visual extravaganza I realised something midway through, this film is nothing more than a pumped up Universal Studios or Disney's Hollywood Studios ride (formally MGM). Its all about the visuals and the ride, the plot is minimal and the acting was pretty standard in my opinion. Of course this being shown mainly in 3D only emphasises this notion, this whole experience is merely a theme park ride, hell I'm damn sure this film will be made into a theme park ride seeing as its pretty much there anyway, I can see it now, rumbling seats and smoke. There's nothing wrong with this essentially as it does what its suppose to do and thrill you with flashy CGI, but overall I kinda felt a bit tricked or cheated as it in no way feels like an actual movie.
As I already said the acting didn't inspire me much frankly. I dislike Bullock and have never rated her as an actress in any of her films mainly because she's the same in everything with that annoying squeaky clean voice and image. The same can be said for Clooney who simply plays Clooney in EVERYTHING!!, this guy cannot act one iota, he just does his smooth smug ladies man act because that's all he can do. He acts no better in this film than he does in a recent British coffee advert, its the same performance people!!! only difference here is he has an astronauts suit on sheesh!!.
I won't deny I didn't enjoy the film to a degree, it was nail biting at times which was all made possible down to the stupendous effects. But was it really that exciting? really? I mean the whole thing was so predictable, you know from the start the female will survive because in every film women are now the heroes (see what you have started Mr Cameron, with your 'Ripley' character). There was never a point where I didn't think she wouldn't survive otherwise there would be no film, there was only one slight surprise character wise, and I highlight *slight*.
I can see why this film made a splash and I fully backup the effects award even though in this day and age its not exactly a game changer, I think. The way they went about creating a fully realistic thriller in space that looks no different to something you'd expect to see from real footage is admirable, but that's all it is. Where as 'Apollo 13' was a nail biting epic drama, this really does feel like a short bombastic theme park ride with a wafer thin plot that's no better than a videogame. There's been a lot of fuss over this film and apart from the visuals I really don't get why. I feel like I'm repeating myself (I am) but bottom line its a big thumbs up for the effects and realism, but that's as far as it goes for me, my score reflects those two elements only.
That first person POV sequence of Dr. Stone spinning into black space at constant velocity for nearly a minute or so is physically sickening and incredibly engrossing. Lots of beautiful and terrible images from space; I didn't even mind the Christ and fetus imagery after Dr. Stone makes it into the hatch and takes a much-deserved minute of repose.
Sandra Bullock's nods/wins for this awards season will definitely be earned (I always knew she was a good actress; I just didn't think "The Blind Side" was her best, but 2009 was when the Academy took notice of her for some reason). Her gasps and groans of distress are minimalistic and don't sound like they were added in from a recording studio after shooting, but if they were, that's even all the more impressive. She swims through zero gravity so quickly and intentionally that I was inspired to go through the rest of my daily tasks with a renewed sense of purpose. My favorite scene is the one with her laughing and crying and howling with the civilian man's dogs on the radio. She is at once so joyful and so despairing.
Visually, Gravity is in a league of its own. The CGI, green screen effects, and sound design are groundbreaking. Some of the sequences last for over ten minutes without a single cut. The cinematography is breathtaking. From minute one the tension is high and for ninety minutes does not let up even for a second. Sandra Bullock deserves another Oscar nomination for her work here. She holds this film together. Director Alfonso Cuaron needs to be commended for creating another visual masterpiece that easily puts Avatar to shame. See this in IMAX 3D if you can. The film is a masterpiece in any format but the 70mm screen will add even more marvel to the visuals.