Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gravity -- Not Just a Heavy Movie

The guy sitting next to me was so convinced he was in space, his head exploded.  Gravity was that good.

After a quick introduction reminding us how impossible it is to live in space, we see the earth spinning slowly beneath us.  It looks so far away, and yet so close.  And it looks so real.  Then off to the right comes something that almost seems out of place ... a space shuttle surrounded by a few astronauts.

George Clooney--the experienced one--is putting around with a jet pack--almost as if he were on a joyride.  Sandra Bullock is the researcher who has earned the right to go into space to run her experiments, but she's having trouble with her zero-g environment.  Some Middle Eastern dude is tethered to the ship as he flails around saying, "Look at me!"

Then as the attached trailer shows, disaster strikes.  Space debris tears through the party and you can imagine what happens next.  The astronauts do their best to survive.

The plot is very simple, but it all seems so real.  This is something that could really happen, and not one of your everyday Hollywood formulaic, escapist, let's-all-have-a-happy-ending movie.

Alfonso Cuaron brings to us a detailed and magnificent journey.  The research, detail--both in visuals and sound, and the directing are amazing.  On top of all this, Cuaron writes a story that makes a good attempt to develop characters in the short time allotted.

The name Gravity is about as perfect as titles come.  It could refer to the seriousness of our astronauts' situation.  Or it could refer to the real driving force behind all the events that occur in this movie.

It is very easy to root for the astronauts, and by the end of the movie, it is very easy to feel so small and fragile.  Gravity not only delivers a fight-for-survival story, but it also dives into what it means to be human.

Despite the fact the the movie was NOT shot in 3D, I would strongly recommend going for the IMAX experience.  If you're a 3D purist like me, just keep in mind that it relies heavily on some very well done CGI, and the effects of depth are just as good, if not better, than Avatar.

Though, I was disappointed that the producers didn't go the one extra step of shooting in 3D.  Most of the time, the 3D conversion was well done, but there were still some mistakes.  For example, in one cool scene where an astronaut spins inside a module, the foot closer to the camera seems to be at the same depth of the farther foot, giving a slight sense of the one foot being detached, or swallowed by the rest of the body.  And there are other scenes where the depth just doesn't look right, making an otherwise awesome scene look a little fake-ish.

As for the science in the movie ... it is nearly perfect.  There was only one scene where the camera moves outside of a module and we still hear a little sound (muffled) from inside.  Also, the only other thing would be the timing of events, which seem to occur faster than I would expect ... but understandable in a movie setting.  Still, the good science far outweighs any of the bad, so you can relax knowing the producers did their homework, and they won't lead you astray.

Major kudos to Cauron for bringing us a good hard-sci-fi story, doing it right, and making it interesting enough for the general public to enjoy!  Go watch this movie!