Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick Review: Gravity

I decided on a shorter review because I don't believe there's much I can say the world hasn't already said. This movie won just about every technical award at the Oscars this year so we already know it looks and sounds good. Also it's been getting crazy high praise. Something I was worried about going in. As a matter of fact I wish I saw this when it first came out before the hype set in. Mostly because I had a strong interest in it before it exploded on the world like it was the greatest movie since last years greatest movie. So with that said I did go into this movie where I did have legitimate interest, but post Oscar buzz was still settled in forcing on me higher expectations than I should have.

First thing I'll get out of the way is the most obvious. This movie is freaking gorgeous. It is so well put together visually that I can understand why it got so many technical awards. I specifically rented the blu-ray because I knew it would benefit the experience as a whole to have that HD experience along for the ride. Dang near every single shot was jaw droppingly gorgeous whether it's a shot of the Earth or of one of the astronauts themselves. Which brings me to the cinematography which was just about equally brilliant. The style was much smoother than other modern movies. Even many of the serious dramas will adapt that jerky handheld style with lots of quick cuts. Something I am not a fan of because it can be jarring and even confusing. Not in this case. The camera movement felt like it too was experiencing zero gravity. Providing a unique experience otherwise not seen in most modern titles. All in all the visual experience of this movie was top notch.

But at the same time there were moments where I felt it looked too good, if that makes any sense. I know this movie relied heavily, heck almost entirely on green screens so there's going to be a large element of artificial visuals. And again for the most part it looked great, but other times there was too much and so much of it felt too smooth and polished. It looked so realistic that it looked unrealistic resulting in something I felt the Transformers movies got a gold metal in, keeping everything as good looking as possible but also trying to be damaged and gritty as possible. It's a stark contrast that just doesn't work if you ask me. Look at it this way. Think of the old Star Wars movies. They have an element of nature to them where people actually get dirty, stains are left, things look like they actually got beat up. But then in the prequels everything glimmers, even the grimey stuff like it just went through the car wash with multiple turtle wax finishes just before entering the camera. It adds a glimmer that frankly takes away from the already beautiful experience that would look better if it looked worse.

I did like the length of the movie. Usually for these sorts of stories it's good to have a short run time because if you try to extend the plot of, "literally lost in space" or anything like that past the standard feature length run time it can drag on a bit. I remember when the indie horror thriller Open Water came out back in the early 2000s. I was excited cause it sounded terrifying. Two scuba divers are accidentally left behind in the middle of shark infested waters. Finally saw the movie on DVD after it's brief theatrical run but even at it's incredibly short length of 79 minutes the movie was a drag to get through because it clearly didn't know what to do with itself to make it last longer an remain engaging. Gravity knew how to remain engaging for a good length. If this was any longer then it would have seemed too long.

But again my feelings are conflicted. I almost with it was a tad longer but for different reasons. It was definitely one of those "everything that can go wrong will go wrong" movies. So much so that the second something good happens to Sandy Bullock something bad has to happen within the next couple minutes. For the first half of the movie or so I was okay with this since it was setting up the main plot. They even had some moments of calm to show the passage of time and some more elements of realism within the story. Even character development (which wound up being 'meh' at best). But in the second half too much was happening too fast for it to feel realistic. It felt rushed. I wish there was just a quick additional minute or two to show that there wasn't an issue the very second she moved to the next place. Maybe a little tease that something might go right before something goes wrong. Then it would actually look more realistic than her being a bad luck charm.

I did still find this to be a positive experience. I love this kind of sci-fi over the waaaaaay in the future sci-fi that fantasy nerds usually love to death. It was a very tense experience, wondering what could happen next to this poor woman. Not to mention the beautiful imagery mixed with the brilliant cinematography gave the feeling of unease and disorientation one would experience when literally lost in space where it's not as simple as up is up and down is down. I do wish I went out and saw this in the IMAX when I had the chance. I even had a second chance when it was re-released just before the Oscars but I never got around to it. And this may be the only time I'll ever say this but... I kinda wish I saw in it 3D, too. This movie has one of the highest 3D praises I've ever heard. A tech I'm normally very against because I feel it doesn't really add anything. And don't get me wrong, this movie can and will have to live through the ages of standing on it's own in a non-IMAX and non-3D (unless you've got 3D blu-ray) format. Cause in the end it's still a good movie. Oscar worthy? In technical features yes but I would hardly call this one of the best movies of 2013. But is that my deepest, most honest opinion or is that post Oscar buzz bringing me down? Would I have liked it more if I saw it before the Oscar buzz? Would I have liked Slumdog Millionaire less after the Oscar buzz in the same sort of way? Can never really tell because there were years where I adored the nominations after the hype (The Artist) and felt there were better winners for certain years as well. But I'm also the type of person who doesn't like things shoved down his throat. It's something I am immediately turned off by so I'm sure my opinion may have been warped when the Oscar buzz came around with this movie. Does this mean I won't like 12 Years a Slave if I ever get around to it? What about Captain Phillips or American Hustle?

Anyway, this is a good movie and I think you should see it. Just please don't anticipate to be as blown away by it as the academy seemed to be. Is that really a surprise review?

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