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"Gravity" Review

My original review is here and my overall impression and score remain the same, but after watching a very clean, Blu-ray quality copy - I'll definitely be buying the BD if it comes loaded with extras as it should - I've got some further thoughts, pro and con with some light spoilers:
  • The Visual Effects Oscar goes to this or there will be (or should be) riots. Just as with Life of Pi, if the VFX don't work, you literally have nothing. I've seen only one thing showing how it was done, but can't find it online. If people knew how this movie was made with almost nothing on the screen being real, they'd really be impressed.
  • Same goes for Sound Mixing (or whatever its called) because the subtle and realistic use of audio. Notice that you only hear the people breathing or the mechanical vibrations of things that are touched. This isn't Star Wars where things go boom; there are scenes where massive destruction is occurring in silence other than the effective score.
  • When the movie came out, nerd killjoys like Neil deGrasse Tyson whined about the "inaccuracies" of the movie like how Bullock's character was undertrained and the orbits were wrong and the space stations aren't that close and astronauts wear diapers so those hot bike shorts she's wearing are wrong and her hair wasn't floating correctly and blah-blah-woof-woof. We don't have a space program, there was no shuttle Explorer and IT'S A MOVIE, not a documentary, but woe to a dramatic story not being shot on location say the nerds. Screw 'em. 
  • On second viewing, the clunky Unobtainium* dialog in the early going really, really sucks. When Clooney asks Bullock how long she trained (A: 6 months) it pretends shuttle mission crews don't train together, but when Mission Control explains that the shrapnel from the satellite is "traveling like a high-speed bullet up to your altitude," that's simply terrible. Are there "slow-speed" bullets? Why would MC say this? If Bullock asked and the incoming trouble, "How bad is that?" and Clooney replied, "Pretty bad. We've got a scrapyard coming our way at 17,000 per hour," it would've told viewers what they needed to know in an organic manner with some color.

    So many movies are packed with such terrible dialog these days it's as if during the writing, development, rewriting and filming (or even post as dialog patches could be applied in ADR), no one noticed that this is drivel. I'm not asking for Paddy Chayefsky-caliber speechifying; just not clunky trash.
  • Sandra Bullock really does good work here and it was lucky for the production that they got her over the super-human Angelina Jolie because she brings a sense of normalcy some larger-than-life stars may've had their outsize lives adding baggage to our perception. Bullock is likeable, so we're already rooting for her, but as she gets put through the mill, we really feel for her pain. She spends most of the movie alone and the only duff notes are those the script occasionally makes her sing. She's going to get an Oscar nomination for this in a couple of days. Don't know if she'll win - haven't seen Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine yet - but as my girlfriend noted, "She was better than Tom Hanks talking a volleyball for 2 hours." Indeed.
  • I was watching this on a 60" HDTV and it really made me want to road trip back to the theater I suffered my theatrical experience at and junk-punch the manager and projectionist. While I had proper brightness, it simply deserved to be seen properly on a huge movie screen. Jerks.

If the damn dialog wasn't so clunky I probably would've bumped my score up a point. Gravity is a breathtaking thrill ride with stunning visuals, but it tries so hard for metaphor on one hand and spoon feeds us like we're idiots with the other that it gets weighed down when it should float. (Yes, I see what I did there.)

Score: 8/10. Watch it.

* In my review of the Avatar DVD I thrash the terrible Basil Exposition Hall of Shame handling of the "This is Unobtainium. This is why we're here." scene which has people who already know this stuff talking to each other in order to inform the audience.


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