Gravity

Gravity is all gravitas and no spirit.

Garnering an astonishing 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, I must not have seen the same movie as everyone else. Gravity starts off with a figurative bang as Alfonso Cuarón displays impressive skill and a deft hand by building tension with silence and perfect CGI before the literal, inevitable bang kicks the movie into the next gear. My massive issue with Gravity is that the rest of the movie is nothing like the heart of this amazing introduction, which employs an extraordinary combination of quiet tranquility and reverberating radio communication with Mission Control (voiced by the unmistakable, velvet-toned Ed Harris).

Since this is the most popular movie in America, I will be careful of what I’ll reveal. Let’s just provide the basic setup that three astronauts are on a spacewalk mission when they’re suddenly interrupted by space trash. Basically, you know there’s a not so loud boom that fucks everything up.

But before that is the most serene silence you’ll experience.

Once the overbearing score kicked in following the crash, I was completely removed from the movie. The soundtrack to Gravity is dreadful and distracting. Why the fuck couldn’t Cuarón just let this space-centered story take place as if it were actually in space? If you’re not adding sound effects for the crashes, why do you include disorienting music during other sequences when it adds nothing aside from telegraphing every moment? The absence of a part can make the whole much more efficient.

I wanted to be immersed in deep space and experience each tense, gripping event. But the grating music, questionable (at times) acting, and vacuous writing all felt uninspired. Yes, the visuals were fucking phenomenal. I don’t blame people for losing themselves in the awe-inspiring sights. I wanted more. The background is the background for a reason, and the foreground should be the focus.

Unfortunately, Gravity did not seem to aspire to be anything more than a technical, visual masterpiece, which is quite an achievement but it just feels empty considering its potential and promise. As far as 3D is concerned, this will be forever viewed as one of the most phenomenal efforts. I could have gone without the cheap tricks like the obligatory nuts flying in your face and droplets of water splashing on the lense, but the exploding debris was quite exquisite in all its glory. Again, the experience would have been enhanced if they actually let you feel the deafening silence and immerse yourself in the gravity of each situation.

To some people (perhaps even most), this may feel like nit-picking, but the point of a critique is to be critical. With the choices made to present the experience with a certain creative license, this spacewalk gone horribly awry fell flat for me. Just because you make a movie in 3D doesn’t mean the result will have any depth, and Gravity indeed failed to provide true dimension in my eyes.

Look at the characters themselves.

How much do you know about Kowalski (George Clooney) and Stone (Sandra Bullock)? What you do know was learned from sloppy exposition and inexplicable, unjustifiably awful dialogue. I cringed and writhed in my seat when Clooney’s character asks, “Where do you pitch your tent?” to Sandra Bullock.

Clooney

Alfonso Cuarón wrote this movie with his son, Jonás, and I was astonished when I found out Jonás didn’t recently celebrate his 13th birthday. There are several other cringe-worthy moments in Gravity (where I forced myself to stifle loud sighs), which I must assume can be attributed to the younger, less-celebrated Cuarón—but both are guilty by association. How do you take a charismatic actor like George Clooney and relegate him to being a cardboard cutout? Sandra Bullock’s performance is also a one-note bore that failed to capture my attention or convey real emotion. I don’t hate Sandra Bullock, but she’s always feels overmatched when it comes to dramatic roles and this wasn’t an exception for me.

Whether Clooney and Bullock are at fault for their superficial and seemingly weak performances is debatable, but I submit the two quotes on IMDB as proof of the writers’ responsibility…

Ryan Stone: “It’s time to stop driving. It’s time to go home.”
Ryan Stone: “I hate space!”

I acknowledge and appreciate the impressive visuals provided throughout Gravity, but there was no emotional investment in the characters and the story is virtually nonexistent. I understand the philosophical, existential themes that Cuarón attempted to portray, but the points were belabored…badly. There’s one scene in particular where Sandra Bullock’s character is floating inside the relative safety of a ship, and she holds for a good 60 seconds while in the fetal position. I wanted to scream for it to stop.

Fetal

If you’ve hammered a nail into a wooden board before, you know there’s a point when the nail is securely in the wood and no amount of hammering will make the nail go any deeper. In fact, it just reaches a point when you’re hammering the shit out of the wood. I wish I could discuss the plot more in-depth as well as a few pivotal scenes that I found problematic, but I’ll save that for another time. You’ll just have to trust me when I say the end of this movie is in a whole different atmosphere of awful. Although Gravity is only 90 minutes, this is by no means a brisk jaunt in space as the end could not arrive soon enough. I wouldn’t go so far as to say not to watch Gravity, but please temper your expectations.

At times, you will be enamored with everything you see. But if you’re anything like me and have hypervigilance, then you will find issues with several facets of Gravity. If I could, I would shut that part of my brain off and just “enjoy the ride” like a mindless drone. Maybe that is how Cuarón intended for Gravity to be enjoyed by the audience. If that’s the case, then might I recommend you watch “Lateralus” by Tool with images from the Hubble Space Telescope for 9 minutes rather than the 90 minutes of Gravity.

You’ll see similarly awe-inspiring sights of space, but on completely separate scales. Considering you have to shell out the money to watch Gravity in 3D at the theaters, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t prefer sitting at home and enjoy the work of art with the better writing that spirals out and keeps going.

2.5 out of 5 stars

“Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
Red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
Lets me see.
As below, so above and beyond, I imagine
Drawn beyond the lines of reason.
Push the envelope. Watch it bend.

Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must
Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines.

Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
Red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
Lets me see there is so much more
And beckons me to look through to these infinite possibilities.
As below, so above and beyond, I imagine
Drawn outside the lines of reason.
Push the envelope. Watch it bend.

Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition leaving all these opportunities behind.

Feed my will to feel this moment urging me to cross the line.
Reaching out to embrace the random.
Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.

I embrace my desire to
Feel the rhythm, to feel connected
Enough to step aside and weep like a widow
To feel inspired, to fathom the power,
To witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain,
To swing on the spiral
Of our divinity and still be a human.

With my feet upon the ground I lose myself
Between the sounds and open wide to suck it in,
I feel it move across my skin.
I’m reaching up and reaching out,
I’m reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
And following our will and wind we may just go where no one’s been.
We’ll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one’s been.

Spiral out. Keep going, going.”
— “Lateralus” by Tool

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Comments
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