Gravity (2013): Life in Space Is Impossible

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Some of you may be aware that I am currently doing a series of reviews which involve space movies. Last week I did my review for “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I’m pretty sure I HAVE NOT talked about the movie before. LOL. Now it is time for my second entry in the series. After this week, I will be tackling another space movie, which is all being done in preparation for the upcoming Damien Chazelle directed “First Man.” This movie is going to release on October 12th everywhere in 2D and IMAX so look around for your local showtimes regarding the film. As for the movie we’re going to be talking about today, that is going to be the 2013 flick “Gravity.” In fact, coincidentally, this review is being brought to you EXACTLY FIVE YEARS AFTER “GRAVITY” CAME OUT IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE. Therefore, this review feels very fitting. Without further ado, let’s blast off, and get going with the review!

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“Gravity” was directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men), stars Sandra Bullock (The Proposal, The Heat) alongside George Clooney (The American, Batman & Robin) and revolves around a girl by the name of Ryan Stone (Bullock). She is in space working with Matt Kowalski (Clooney) when all of sudden their mission doesn’t go according to plan. A bunch of debris coming towards them causes a separation in crew members, and now it is up to Kowalski and Stone to survive together in space.

Now this is the start of the review so I might as well set the mood.

AT 600KM ABOVE PLANET EARTH THE TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATES BETWEEN +258 AND -148 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT

THERE IS NOTHING TO CARRY SOUND
NO AIR PRESSURE
NO OXYGEN

LIFE IN SPACE IS IMPOSSIBLE

Aside from the Warner Brothers logo which happens to introduce the movie, this is the first thing that can be seen on screen regarding “Gravity.” There are many introductions to a movie that can either remind you what you’re in for or get you excited for what’s to come. This one succeeds at both tasks. The rise in the music, the black screen, and the fades of the text. All of these remind you that you’re in for a ride. You have to strap yourself in. Many bumps are ahead. There’s even some sounds in the background that might as well associate with what a disaster in space would end up being.

Then… you cut to…

SPACE.

Much like the space shots in the last movie I reviewed, specifically “2001: A Space Odyssey,” pretty much all of them are insanely gorgeous. I will probably give the 1 up to “2001” over “Gravity” when it comes to space shots based on what it is shot on and how they actually crafted everything in space as supposed to using CGI (you can’t really do that in 1968), but given how realistic the CGI looks in this movie, I am almost convinced at times that this actually is space. I had a conversation with a companion months after this movie came out where she uttered this movie is basically “all visual effects.” She’s right. The amount of effective green screen used in “Gravity” actually blows my mind. It’s almost like we’re witnessing “Jurassic Park” in space. I say that because “Gravity,” like “Jurassic Park” relies heavily on CGI and the way they’ve executed visual effects in both movies just feel like they can blow your mind out of the water.

Speaking of shots, this movie came out in 2013, and as far as movies released that year go, this one won Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards. And holy crap this movie deserves it. Let’s talk about some of the unique shots in “Gravity.” When it comes to “Gravity,” the first shot I think of is actually the earliest one we see in the film. We see Earth, and a spacecraft is coming in. We also get to see our characters. If you have never seen this movie, this is probably gonna get you to want to check this movie out. That shot goes on for somewhere around ten minutes! Can you imagine how much rehearsing went into that shot? Can you imagine how much preparation the director and people behind the camera had to go through? I wonder what the storyboards must have been like!

Another cool shot is one that is pretty much reminiscent of a first-person game. And I mean that literally, they have FIRST-PERSON shots in this movie. There’s one in the middle of the film that has Ryan Stone trying to get into the International Space Station and as she opens the door to get inside, you can get a view into her helmet just before the door flies as she tugs onto it.

Take that, “Hardcore Henry!” You stole “Gravity’s” idea! I’ve seen this movie in IMAX, and as I reflect on what this movie has, it just makes me want to create a petition to rerelease this film in the format so I can experience shots like the ones I mentioned in such an immersive way.

Going back to visual effects, we need to talk about 3D. There are VERY few movies that I think have been worth the extra money for 3D. Some include “The Hobbit” trilogy, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and f*ck it, even the stupid “Ghostbusters” remake. Gotta give it credit for something, ya know. “Gravity” is also in such a category. You have many scenes where debris and characters are flying everywhere and it’s all just a visual spectacle to the face. It’s like you’re in space and you’re constantly getting hit in the head with debris! Only thing is you’re much more likely to survive because in all practicality you might as well be Dominic Toretto from “Fast & Furious.”

I can’t wait for “Fast & Furious” in space. It’s gonna be great.

One of the most immersive scenes in the movie comes from when Ryan Stone changes spacesuits and is outside the ISS. More debris is incoming, and all of a sudden, the ISS is doomed. You’re seeing bits and pieces flying everywhere and it is just like going on a ride at Universal. While Ryan Stone is certainly in danger, you feel like you’re in danger as well. I also love the line given by Ryan after she is free from any more suffering in this incident.

“I hate space.”

One of the main characters in “Gravity” is played by George Clooney. His name is Matt Kowalski, and he seems to have a knack for telling stories. As I watched this movie, I noticed that when the mood seems to be light, he would tell a story, maybe it is one the characters have heard before. If not, he tells one that has a similar vibe or structure to it.

Another main character, and I’m talking about someone who is technically THE main character is Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone. Talk about one of the best established characters of the decade. She starts off this movie as a seemingly normal character and then you get into her backstory. It’s almost like watching a Pixar movie that doesn’t really gear itself towards children. I mean, HER KID DIED. All she does when she isn’t in space, is go to work and drive. That’s gotta be the most boring life imaginable. I mean, she doesn’t clean McDonald’s restrooms, but even so. Given her backstory and the fact that she is TRULY pulling through, it just makes you root for the character that much more.

I gotta say though, when it comes to the end, that’s where this movie falls flat. This film is an hour and thirty-one minutes, but I don’t know how to feel about the ending. Without going into spoilers, it’s not an out of place ending, but I don’t know, I kind of wanted to see more than just what we got. Also, speaking of out of place, there’s a song that you can hear at the end of the movie and the credits, one of the weirdest song choices in movie history.

Also, regarding out of place stuff that I won’t really spoil, George Clooney’s character does something towards the end of the movie that really, honestly, makes zero sense. If you want to get technical with me, I might even say there are two things. I don’t even know, it just feels out of place. If anything, I could say it might be associated with an illusion or some sort of vision, maybe symbolism, it just makes the movie feel very strange and I just don’t understand why he would be doing what he’s doing.

Now it is time to get…

NITPICKY!

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t do work with rockets, I have no scientific background in anything related to space, I don’t work for NASA. My friend does, but she’s busy doing her own thing, so no, I didn’t ask her to help me out with this post. And you know what? I’d probably do a fine job noting some inaccuracies that can be seen in “Gravity,” but the fact is, I’d really be taking the words out of someone’s mouth. To be specific, the words of Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Some of you might remember the pointing out of scientific inaccuracies since early on in this movie’s release. But one of the more notable bits when it comes to that is from Tyson. He went on Twitter and had a few things to say.

Again, it’s nitpicky, it’s not like we have everybody in the world going around saying the same thing as this guy. Maybe some people would complain about the single-dimension of George Clooney or the cheesy lines that occasionally pop up. But at the same time, science is something that I’m willing to bet a number of filmmakers want to get right in their movies. If your movie has something that maybe in the screenplay was written to be completely compelling, but on screen has the most glaring scientific flaw, some people might point out the scientific flaw as opposed to what makes the scene a thing of beauty. In fact, you know that friend at NASA I was talking about? Even she sometimes says that Hollywood and science don’t always mix and she is not into that sort of thing.

And for those of you who think Dr. Tyson hated “Gravity…”

And this is something that can be taken seriously. While you can certainly enjoy a movie for what it is, there is certainly no shame in pointing out problems, even if they are nitpicky. After all, the more accurate the science is in the movie, the more I might end up enjoying it. “Gravity,” according to my memory, might as well be the first movie where I didn’t exactly question the science on screen, but it had me realizing that when it comes to science, not everything was perfect. In that sort of way, this movie is kind of special to me. How often can you say you remember a movie for its flaws? OK, well, more than you think, I still remember “The Emoji Movie.” But at least these flaws aren’t game-breaking.

In the end, “Gravity” is scary, it’s suspenseful, it’s what you can totally ask for in a space disaster film. To this day it is by far one of the most immersive movies I’ve ever seen. Some of the camerawork is not only masterful, but just so brilliant that it basically changes the game of how future movies could be made. And it did in a way if you think about it given how “Hardcore Henry” took the first-person concept and made an entire movie out of it. I could be wrong. Maybe video games were a bigger inspiration, I don’t know for sure. But if “Gravity” was bigger, cool. Not to mention, “Hardcore Henry” uses GoPro as its source of cinematography whereas this movie’s main source happens to be Arri Alexas. Like Dr. Tyson, I enjoyed this movie very much and I’m going to give “Gravity” an 8/10. While this movie does have some problems, what really gives “Gravity” the 8 mark for me is the journey of watching this film. Our main hero who is just trying to survive is definitely one of the more compelling characters I’ve come across over the past few years. The sound work done in this film is scary as s*it. The visual effects feel like in a way that they may be somewhat groundbreaking, or in some cases, International Space Station breaking. And the cinematography is just so brilliantly done.

*IF YOU LIKE RAMBLING OR BEING INFORMED ABOUT THINGS, READ ON FROM HERE*

Thanks for reading this review! Next week will be my final installment in my space movie review series in preparation for “First Man.” Just a reminder, “First Man” is in theaters everywhere on October 12th, but the day before I will have my review up for “Apollo 13.” I’ll be honest with you, and I’ll let you guys know in advance, I’m not sure how this review will turn out. I’m not saying it’s gonna suck. In fact, if I knew it was gonna suck, I’d scrap the review altogether. But compared to this movie and the other one I’ve reviewed in this series, “2001,” “Apollo 13” just happens to be a film I don’t have as much experience with. I will say one thing I’ve noticed with reviews for older movies is if I know the movie, I put more detail into the review. In my Tom Cruise series, I barely put anything into my review for “The Firm” because my review for it was composed after my first viewing whereas “Risky Business” was something I not only seen before but also happened to have a deep passion towards. My “Firm” review ended up at over 1800 words and my “Risky Business” review ended up at over 3400 words. Then again, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And I may be underestimating myself. I have seen “Apollo 13,” but it’s been years and I only deeply remember various parts. Plus I’m going to New York this weekend and I haven’t even watched the movie yet. Maybe I’ll watch it, go to sleep, wake up, and start my review on the train ride to New York, I dunno.

Speaking of New York, be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on this year’s New York Comic Con! I will be going to the con on Friday and Sunday. I do have Columbus Day off, so if I have time, maybe I’ll use it reviewing the con and telling you what I purchased there. For those of you who want to see more of my work, be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Gravity?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal worst scientific inaccuracy you’ve ever seen in a movie? Doesn’t even have to be scientific, maybe history-related. Your choice. You have the power.

Only you can control your future. -Dr. Seuss

Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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