Dear Astronaut, we wish to send you to space, for an amazing experience and for great scientific advancement, but if anything goes wrong, you are screwed, you are alone and if you want to survive and get back home you will have to traverse the seven hellish inferno circles of Dante. Sound good? Sign up now. We want you, in a mouse maze of galactic proportions, to see if you can survive. Kind Regards, NASA.
So should be the advertisement for joining this team for this mission. Oh My God, what an intense edge-of-your-seat film. It is close on non stop from go to woe and some of the most spectacular cinematography I have seen of space and also one of the most scientifically accurate space films I have witnessed – I was gobsmacked and could not stop noises of excitement, horror, anxiety or splendour from escaping my mouth during the entire experience.
Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the rest are all voices, oh and one guy you see for about five minutes before he opens his mind, literally. It is a short film at just over 80mins and is a basic, but brilliant, premise. Three astronauts on a NASA spacewalk, working on the hubble telescope when the good old Russkies set a nuke into space to blow up one of their satellites, poop hits the vacuum and it starts a cascade effect with a crapload of debris orbiting the planet faster than a bullet. This debris is growing as it takes out satellite after satellite after space station, after shuttle, you get the point. Every 90mins this debris is going to find them again so time is of the essence. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski (Bullock and Clooney) have limited air, limited fuel in a backpack jetpack, a totes f.u.b.a.r’d space shuttle and a ticking clock of debris death on a path of destruction in their wake. It’s a romantic comedy 🙂
The film is one of the most technically superb films set in space that I have ever seen, it is not a science fiction in the sense, it is more an accurate possibility creation, they keep to what in reality would be available and make most of the scenes doing everything by the book, the closest thing to it would be Apollo 13, minus all the patriotic heroism. No doubt all the NASA peeps will LOVE this film.
Alfonso Cuarón, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber decided that they couldn’t make Gravity as they wanted to by simply using traditional methods. So for the spacewalk scenes, says Webber, “We decided to shoot (the actors’) faces and create everything else digitally. Which was quite a difficult decision.” To do that, Lubezki reasoned, he would need to light the faces to match the all-digital environment they’d be put into. Whether the characters were floating gently, changing direction or tumbling in space, the facial light would have to be a perfect match for the Earth, sun and stars in the background. “That can break easily,” explains Lubezki, “if the light is not moving at the speed that it has to move, if the position of the light is not right, if the contrast or density on the faces is wrong, et cetera.” Lubezki suggested folding an LED screen into a box, putting the actor inside, and using the light from the screen to light the actor. That way, instead of moving either Bullock or Clooney in the middle of static lights, the projected image could move while they stayed still and safe. This “light box” became the key to the spacewalk scenes. But it was only a nine-foot cube, just big enough for one actor, not an actor and a camera crew.
The view of earth is just superb – this should have been made as an IMAX film :). My one gripe, while probably 80% of the film is all CGI, top notch I should add CGI of space, the rest is not. For a film that is made for the entire encompassment of 3D, why was it not filmed in 3D? why a post production 3D? This was wasted.
The action in this film will blow your mind and considering most of it is CGI, and those actors are really in a bland square box on wires and harnesses, just blows my mind – I think the film wins the award of the technically most visually awesome space film ever. The film has been on hold for years, Cuaron wrote the story back in 2006 (I may be off with that date by a year as cannot confirm it) but he would not make, nor thought he could make it until the technology was available to match the vision. Enter the man that “made it so” – JAMES CAMERON, as soon as he made Avatar the technology was available to make GRAVITY. James Cameron’s description upon seeing GRAVITY – “I was stunned, absolutely floored,” he told Variety. “I think it’s the best space photography ever done, I think it’s the best space film ever done, and it’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time.” That kind of praise wins awards :). But he is right.
Now for the actors, firstly, I just have to mention it – Ed Harris is the voice of Mission Control 🙂 Then there is Clooney, he is superb in this film, in most films, he is the epitome of professionalism and calming in this film. He keeps everything lighthearted on purpose and also is the only point of fun in the film. He appears at the right moments to break things up. Love him.
Sandra Bullock was not meant to be in this film. Surprisingly it was always going to be Robert Downey Jnr and Angelina Jolie. Both of them eventually pulled out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. The film then tested or approached Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Carey Mulligan, Sienna Miller, Scarlett Johansson,Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall and Olivia Wilde. Finally, Sandra Bullock was cast. I am unsure if Bullock is brilliant in the role, but she put in a lot of effort and I enjoyed her performance, I keep hearing things like “the Oscar is Bullocks for this role” but sadly I do not see it, it is a great performance but it is not earth shattering. She is admirable, and slips in some of her little quirks we all know from her roles, the one line that had me giggle “I hate space”. And she does do action well, and this film is nothing but action. While not something to blame on her, I found it unnecessary for her character’s life story. The film tried to add the psychological to the story, but for me it was these quiet moments that annoyed me as they were resting points on the action packed journey through hell.
I also was not a huge fan of the last shot of Bullock, too cheesy, and kind of worship-giant-hero-like – it made the audience laugh in the cinema and I am sure this was not Cuaron’s intention. The other thing that made the audience laugh was just how much was thrown at Bullock, it never ends, sure, escape the space station as it is exploding and jump in the something else on fire, happy with that, catch your breath because next we are pitching a death star in your face, towards the end it was like “give her a bloody break”. But this is where the psychological themes came into play, and what I disliked, it was like “you must go through hell to get over your past and move on in life, recovery ain’t easy darl, so here catch a flaming death star while breathing carbon dioxide and knowing your child is dead”. OK – I get the point.
The film is an amazing piece of work, it needs to be seen on the biggest cinema you can find, I will warn you though about the 3D, it is amazing but if you suffer any form of motion sickness or vertigo, or anything disorienting, this film will mess with you badly, people have been made sick from the film, remember NO GRAVITY in space – up and down have no meaning so the entire film is like being in a washing machine, just above the planet, with meteors hunting you down. So much action – it is like Die Hard but the terrorists are rocks and Bullock is McClaine and that would make Clooney the big fat cop 🙂
Loved it. GRAVITY is out today, is rated M and runs for 90mins.