Visually a staggeringly beautiful film that is as much about the human mind-set as it is about the danger and hostility of Space. In terms of a storyline there really isn't much to Gravity but the films simplicity is one of the very many things that I liked. Stone (Bullock), Kowalski (Clooney) and Sharrif are a team of astronauts on a routine maintenance mission to the Hubble space telescope. However, during this the crew are cut adrift from the Shuttle that they arrived in and all communication with Earth is lost and that's about all I can say without giving away anything.
There are essentially two actors for the duration of the entire film and for this reason I compare it to films such as Buried and 127 Hours. Ive never made a film in my life but I can guess that it's a challenge to keep things interesting throughout whilst operating within the constraints that this and the aforementioned films do. Where Gravity has an advantage is in that director always has the get out of the setting and in orbit around planet Earth just never gets boring to look at. Seeing the sunrise from Space is something I would pay to watch itself and the various continents lit up at night are nothing short of spectacular. I also loved the use of silence in the film. It is suggested that there is no sound in Space as there is no air to carry the soundwaves so scenes where you would normally hear a cacophony of sound are all the more dramatic without it. There is one scene in particular involving the International Space Station that is worth the price of admission in itself. The effects are mesmeric with a very good use of 3D in that for once this is not a bolted on gimmick (Avatar excluded). One scene that I loved is where Stone crys and you can see her tears in zero gravity. Ive no idea why I thought this was particularly poignant (answers on a postcard please).
Ive seen criticism of this film about how the characters lack depth but I think there is as much (or as little) as you want there to be. You learn that Stone has suffered personal tragedy in her life and this may explain how a certain coldness might help make the perfect astronaut? It also tries to suggest that even when at the depths of your despair the human spirit has an uncanny knack of egging you on and this again is a similarity I found with the aforementioned Buried and 127 Hours. Gravity is worthwhile for the visuals alone but I think it is more than that and I was lucky enough to see this at an IMAX. An amazing film.
One of the most mesmeric films ive ever seen and yet, I dont really know exactly why? To describe it as a series of images with no narrative makes it sound naffer than a Celine Dion cover of Public Enemies Fight The Power. But once you start paying attention to it, it will suck you in and refuse to let go until it finishes. Many will say that it is trying to persuade the viewer of the damage we are doing to the environment and our planet and there is some truth in this but I dont think you have to share such views to enjoy this? It is particularly impressive in Hi Definition and ill admit that this was the sole reason why I bought it without even knowing what it is about? So if you have a spare 90 minutes one evening pop it on, pour a glass of Red and prepare to be amazed.
I have two major criticisms of this film. Firstly, its too long (never a good sign) and secondly, its title. If it had no connection to the original then as a film in its own right it really isnt that bad. The irony here is that I do think that it is significantly different enough from Arnies version to have been able to do this.
The world as we know it is basically knackered and uninhabitable. Only two regions remain populated in The Federation of Britain (basically Western Europe) and The Colony (aka The Colony.........errm I mean Australia). These are connected via a gravity lift that goes through the earth and allows the Convicts to commute to affluent Blighty to work their butts off and sell their souls. There are tensions between the two regions with a resistance growing within the convicts against their oppressors leading to multiple terrorist attacks.
Douglas (Farrell) and Lori (Beckinsale) are childhood sweethearts who live in The Colony and have been married for 7 years. Douglas has a mundane job on a production line assembling robots and is striving to better himself. He is also suffering from nightmares and is for some unknown reason beginning to question the direction of not only his life but everybodys role in the world. In an effort to take his mind off this he decides to visit Rekall which advertises itself as a seller of pre-determined memories that can be implanted at will. There are rules to this procedure and Douglas falls foul of them and chaos ensues.
Visually the film is very good (big Blade Runner influence with the visuals) and Farrell and Biel are decent enough from a totty perspective although Beckinsale really did get up my (admittedly big) nose although in fairness to her she is arguably fulfilling her role by provoking this reaction? The action scenes are also well done (but also a little too long at times) but I cannot stop myself from comparing it to the classic of the same name and this ultimately damages it irreparably. The underlying message of this film? Regardless of your past its always possible to redeem yourself and always be true to yourself. Now why hasn't anyone else though of the later before? A life lesson there I guess.....NOT!!
Ive been a long-time admirer of Director Ron "Richie from Happy Days" Howards films. Cocoon, Parenthood and The Paper won me around some time ago so I was interested to see that he was directing a film about something I knew a little bit about? What he achieves with Rush is a worthwhile film which is aided by very good portrayals of two differently interesting characters and a fascinating (if exaggerated for effect) rivalry. Allied with this are some superb racing sequences that are created with a lot of style and excitement.
James Hunt (Hemsworth) is of a privileged background and he has a talent for driving cars. He is a part of an organisation that races in a division below Formula One as a part of a small team financed by friends. At this level the cars are of a relatively equal standard and it is here that Hunt first comes across an Austrian called Nikki Lauda (Bruhl). Lauda (also from a wealthy background) attracts attention straight away with his professionalism, dedication and attention to detail. Hunt is the opposite in that whilst serious when in the car, out of it he seems anything but with a carefree, fun fuelled attitude. In their first meeting, Hunts aggression forces Lauda off of the track and wins the race much to Laudas annoyance. However, Lauda has ambitions beyond this level and buys his way into a formula 1 team and impresses enough with his knowledge to get a drive in the team. Hunts team make the step up to Formula 1 but are unable to sustain this financially and Hunt is left without a team to drive for. This affects his marriage and he begins on a path of self-destruction until he is thrown a lifeline by McLaren who have unexpectedly lost one of their drivers to a rival team. With a renewed vigour, Hunt and Lauda battle it out for the title with internal politics, tragedy and no little bravery and skill affecting the eventual outcome.
This film is an unqualified success. My only real criticism of this film is that Hunt had his victory in the British Grand Prix rescinded on a technicality that I though was critical to the story of the title but this fact was omitted. Thing is that most wont really know or care about this and neither should they (my problem and mine alone). Whoever was responsible for casting Hemsworth and Bruhl should be congratulated. Both are convincing and I felt there was an on screen chemistry between them. Also, whilst they are both different personalities I warmed to them equally but for different reasons. The real highlight is the race sequences which are nothing but spectacular. Flashy techniques are evident but never overdone and Rush manages to keep a 1970s feel throughout that I really liked. Its style reminded me of the outstanding BBC series Life On Mars in this regard. I saw this as a story of how some aim for a goal, achieve it and become stronger for it, whilst others are unable to motivate themselves again in the same way after reaching the pinnacle. I used to be taught Maths by a teacher who used to say that it is hard to get to the top but even harder to stay there. Maybe she didn't contemplate that not everybody actually wants to stay there. For people like Hunt once they get there they might feel like they have nothing more to prove whilst the Laudas of this world feel the need to prove it time and time again?
All of the ingredients are there for this to be a very, very good film but its missing something that I cant quite put my finger on. It has an interesting plot, a twist in the tail, a stellar cast and more style than Jamie Foxx in a crushed velvet suit.
Four middling tricksters from various schools of magic are brought together by persons unknown to plot a series of shows (under the title of The Four Horseman) that involves themes and tricks such as stealing money from a bank vault in full view of the watching public. They quickly achieve nationwide notoriety as well as attracting the attention of the feds. Whilst the catch me if you can game is being played between these two a third party Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) is performing the Penn and Teller role of exposing the methods being used by the Horsemen. This leads to a three way fight (and at one point becomes a four way fight) for supremacy. The FBI are fronted by Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who is forced into having Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) from Interpol assist him on the case. Really gotta feel for him here (NOT) to have Shosanna from Inglorious Basterds accompany his incompetent raggedy butt around the place but (yet again) I digress. Perhaps a little too predictably Shosanna, errm I mean Alma turns out to be a little smarter than she is originally perceived to be. Sounds formulaic? That's because it is and maybe this is why it falls short of being the film it could and possibly should have been?
At times this film is slicker than snot on a doorknob (especially so the shows) and many of the citywide night scenes have a Michael Mann quality and feel about them (no bad thing at all). The start is especially promising and The Four Horseman are all good although at times Woody Harrelsons character (Merritt McKinney) and performance overshadows the others. There is the hint of unrequited love between two of the horsemen that is suggested and then seemingly ignored for the rest of the film and we end up not really knowing enough about the horsemen but I guess compromises have to be made and a line drawn somewhere? The consequence of this is that it makes it difficult for me to pull for the horsemen on point of principle alone? Morgan Freeman and Michael Cain have their usual on screen gravitas whenever they are in a scene. I always liked Mark Ruffalo as an actor (Eternal Sunshine to blame for this) and he is good although not in the same class as his performance in Collateral although the two roles are similar.
As Alma keeps suggesting in the film that you have to believe to have any chance of solving the crime and this is a good way to view Now You See Me. Go with the flow and you might enjoy this as much as I did, approach it expecting perfection and you will be sorely disappointed.