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Wick's Review

Created Oct 06, 2013 09:02PM PST • Edited Jun 13, 2020 05:47PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Gravity isn’t the point, zero-gravity is. However, its title is the only thing underwhelming about Alfonso Cuarón’s benchmark movie. Everything else in Gravity overwhelms. For instance, the vertical line of a sunrise coming around the massive planet looming below some intrepid astronauts is so familiar, yet so full-screen immersive, it creates a wholly new kind of cinematic experience. Imagine that.

    The best movie of the year – so far – sets a new standard in outer space adventure, doing so by eschewing silly hijinks and toning down the dialog to something approximating reality. Or so it seems.

    Careful analysis shows Gravity’s apparently overt reality to be definite surreality, twice what’s normal. Cuarón’s clever cinematic rectitude makes us more than eager to accept it however, willfully suspending disbelief for the most realistic space adventure ever. Yes, ever.

    No 2001 space odyssey for this benchmark SciFi, transcendence be damned. Cuarón instead challenges us to focus on what could go wrong in a workaday space mission of the here and now. Well, the here and now if our recent Presidents hadn’t let NASA’s manned space program go fallow, but never mind that.

    Sandra Bullock & George Clooney play those astronauts, she a mission scientist in a funk, he a legendary space cowboy on a final run. While they don’t get to toss off silly quips of the Bruce Willis variety, their superstar charisma gets put to very effective use. He cracks wise about being “devastatingly handsome”, while she is the All American woman that movie audiences know and love.

    The movie keeps you on tenterhooks about her fate. I found myself thinking she’s gotta live. Then, she’s gonna die. But she’s gotta live. Damn, she’s gonna die. Now that’s thrilling like a thriller should thrill.

    Gravity has no deeper meaning and so may not end up the best movie of the year come New Years Eve. But it succeeds spectacularly well on its own terms. Plus it’s a movie best seen in a theater on the biggest screen possible, ideally in 3-D. Thus this cutting edge movie couldn’t be more old fashioned.

    Row 4 Right for the 3-D showing at CinéArts Santana Row. I can do this, I thought. I wanna do this.

    Ultimately some more intrepid souls sat in Row 3, then two in Row 2. I think I saw their heads explode when Clooney and Bullock went careening through space at one point.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Sandra Bullock is the female Tom Hanks, immensely likable and relatable. Most notable here is the physicality of the role and the limited visual canvas she had to work with for much of it.

    She’s in a space suit for long stretches, so we only see her face. Thus her strained voice and limited eye movements carry her performance. It helps that her dramatic cheekbones give our eyes something to grasp on to in addition to her wide eyes and unpainted lips.

    She delivers another chunk of the movie in her skivvies, swimming around a space station in zero Gs. And yet she generates no sexual attraction, but rather an outpouring of good will. IOW, she rises above traditional gender identity, becoming instead a Hanks-ian kind of American hero.

    George Clooney is the only other non-voice actor in the movie, delivering a patented turn as a suavely rakish astronaut. Does anybody do it better?

    Voice Actors

    • Ed Harris as Houston Mission Control. Yes, the same Ed Harris who said “Failure is not an option” in Apollo 13.
    • Paul Sharma as an enthusiastic young astronaut.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Alfonso Cuarón deserves an Oscar for Gravity. Best Picture or Best Director, take your pick. He’s both toned down and amped up our conception of a space adventure to hitherto unseen levels of sophistication.

    Interesting Credits

    • 20 stunts.
    • 24 CG Artists and dozens of Animators
    • Lots of lighting artists.
    • A CTO who has a dozen System Engineers
    • A HOD Modeler
    • Guillermo del Toro is the first person in a long list of Thanks. David Fincher and James Cameron are amongst the others.
  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Really Great 4.5

    Alfonso Cuarón and son Jonás Cuarón take a bow.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    Seeing the Earth from space never gets old and is richer in Gravity than ever before, as far as I can recall.

    I’d love to see a Director’s Cut annotated with place names of the parts of Earth visible below.

  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.5

    Tame but tense. Very, very tense.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Fierce 1.9
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.7
  18. Surreal 2.2

    Not to be a spoilsport, but hopscotching from Space Shuttle to Space Station to other Space Station is more than a little circumstantially surreal, as would be an American astronaut’s ability to operate a Chinese space station and a Russian Soyuz. Hey wait, Chinese space station? They’ve yet to launch one.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.9
  20. Biological Glib 2.0
  21. Physical Glib 1.8


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