Friday, February 28, 2014

GRAVITY (2013) - First Thoughts

Gravity (2013) - ****

Director: Alfanso Cuarón
Producer: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
Story/Screenplay: Alfonso and Jonas Cuarón
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Music: Steven Price
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Run Time: 91 minutes

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG-13


So I just got the Blu-ray for the box-office smash/critically-acclaimed/award-winning hit movie Gravity and popped it in my system, equipped with a good projector, an AV receiver, a Blu-ray player, and surround sound speakers.

I was interested in this film due to the hype. But I never got to see it in IMAX or 3D.

So I just decided to what this 91-minute space movie in the comfort of my own home.

And how was it?

It was very good, but I felt it was a bit overrated and not the masterpiece that some have called this. This may be due to not appreciating it on the IMAX screen, but still, the plot is just basic adventure story enlarged with cinematic imagery that actually looks very brilliant.

So the basic plot is this: Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) get stuck in space in an attempt to suspend a mission, leaving them to fend for themselves alone in space. But Matt Kowalski disappears, leaving Ryan Stone to try to get back to earth.

So what makes this film unique, despite its simplistic surface plot that would make for an average disaster flick? Several things: the impeccably good performances from George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, Cuarón's direction, the cinematography that feels so realistic and ethereal and the stunning visuals in this film.

Sandra Bullock manages to give a very good performance as the troubled astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone, giving us shades of substance amidst all her screaming for about 90 minutes of the movie. We see her wonder and fear of space, her personal life's influence on her space travels, and her fear for her life in space. Sandra Bullock manages to wrap up all these character traits quite well.

And George Clooney does a great (if brief) job portraying Matt Kowalski, who is the only other survivor with Stone. His performance as the macho, experienced pro astronaut is very entertaining and confirms that George Clooney may be one of the best actors of our time (and he does manage to attract the ladies, hence his being called "ladies' man").

The rest of the stuff is good to great, including Cuarón's direction, which gives the film further energy amidst the vacant and engrossing atmosphere of outer space. He makes the film feel both realistic in its accuracy to space details and surreal in his cinematic imagery. While I couldn't appreciate it in 3D or IMAX, the cinematography is still something to behold, engrossing, dizzying, and interesting at the same time. The cinematic techniques of Cuarón fit well in this film. His penchant for long and thoughtful shots works well in this movie, not only fitting into the fast-paced, 91 minute time length of the movie but also reconciling quite nicely with cinematic engrossment. The CGi effects are used to brilliant effect, managing not to be overdone but rather to fit quite nicely, making for some truly awesome visuals.

But why is this film not a masterpiece?

While I did note that the film was suspenseful, I didn't feel my spine-tingling, and at times I felt like the movie should end quickly. Even though it was 91 minutes, the film dig drag at certain points.

Also, while Gravity is a very good film, the thing that holds this film back from being a masterpiece is the somewhat corny acting of the otherwise good Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

So even if the film weren't a masterpiece, I did enjoy it very much, which is why I will give the film a 4/5 (A-) grade.

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