Release Date: 10/04/2013
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone), George Clooney (Matthew Kowalski)
I’ll admit that it took me quite a while before I finally got to actually watching last year’s heavily praised 3D masterpiece. Honestly, escaping the hype was one of the best things I could have possibly done, as it allowed me to be more objective as I sat down to watch the disaster movie. It is in fact a disaster movie as the Russians shot down one of their spy satellites that resulted in a catastrophic destruction of all objects that we’ve currently suspended in sub orbital space. However, the film’s focus, like many disaster movies, was both on the glorious looking destruction and the character’s reaction to the events that are entirely out of their control. Now, I will be honest, I walked away from Gravity more irritated than entertained. While I was entertained and given things to find fantastic, I was also given a slim plot inhabited largely by a character that I could barely tolerate. Thus my perception is that the movie is visual beauty, but on the other fronts it was average.
Let’s start with the absolute positives. The movie was pretty it was very pretty. The backdrops of the Earth and space was spectacular. Watching the debris crash through the area each time was a bit of a spectacle. Objects hurtle at you in what feels like could be the end. As the movie progressed these debris assaults lost a bit of their tension. The initial assault however, was phenomenal. Each object seemed like a sign of death that inevitably crashed into something else creating even more things to harm you. It was in the initial debris cloud that I noticed my own heart begin to race. Things were getting real and they got real very fast. It wasn’t long after we met the story telling Matt or the hardly trained Ryan and the excitable Shariff that things went to hell in a nicely wrapped handbasket.
Which leads to another major positive of the film and that was the pacing. Gravity is a short movie only clocking in around 90 minutes and Cuarón kept things moving. In fact, the film seemed to move from plot point to plot point fairly swiftly as an attempt to get back to Earth was put forth. Things had got bad real quick and with only so much time before each of the debris assaults action needed to be taking. So many movies struggle with getting the pacing just right and not letting the somber moments take too much of the story is tough. Gravity manages to get through its 90 minutes without feeling dull or like too much time was spent on anything. Pacing was most certainly a strong point that made the movie feel quick and enjoyable in that sense.
On the downside, there was the main character of Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock. In no way does this reflect on Sandra Bullock as I felt that her portrayal of the role was actually very well done. Unfortunately, it was the character who she played that felt like I was grating my skin on a jagged stone. It was made very clear that Ryan was not the best trainee after only six months, and never managed to successfully land the pod in simulation. It made sense that Ryan was a bit petrified when things got bad quickly. However, it became irritating when she continually panicked rather than taking action and in generally acted in foolish ways. When you watch a character continually behave that way, and they are the only character around it can be irritating. In fact, it was the character of Ryan that made the movie feel so irritating as I felt like she was both unlikeable and unrelateable. Her reactions came off realistic, but not of someone who I would enjoy watching their journey. Essentially it became hard for me to root for her survival because I didn’t care about her character. At all.
And yes, that means that the one truly entertaining character did die. Yes, Matt was cast off and sent to his death because of some bad luck with the debris and because he was genuinely a good guy who choose to help Ryan as she panicked and could barely take care of herself. Which was why it felt like such a gut wrenching blow when for a moment it seemed like Matt may have survived due to some craftiness on his part, only for it to turn out to be a hallucination of Ryan’s as she attempted to kill herself. At that point, I was ready for her to do it and I wouldn’t have been upset, but chalked it up to a tragic loss of life for an entire crew.
Which leads me to my final topic here, from the beginning of the film I found myself enamored by what was going on back on Earth. Yes, even while Ryan was struggling to preserve her life and get back to Earth, I wanted to know what was going on down there. What chaos was ensuing. They made it clear at the beginning that the debris had taken out 80% of commercial satellites cutting off much of our communications on Earth. So what was happening down on Earth as we went partially dark and struggled to find answers. That in itself is a movie of its own. And despite the anguish of Ryan, I kept thinking of all those troubles as all satellite based functions went down.
What did you think of the movie?