Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Gravity

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In space, no one can hear you scream.

Which in this case, is VERY unfortunate…

Gravity. By far one of the greatest movies I’ve ever had the advantage of watching.

This feature kept me intrigued from start to finish. And at one point, I actually found myself unable to tear my eyes away from the screen. Its blend of hypnotic graphics and genuine emotion was captivating, way beyond anything I expected.

So let’s get underway shall we!

Casting

Couldn’t have been better. Clooney and Bullock made a great pair of outer-hemisphere work colleagues. The entire movie centres around these two, and they are the only (living) faces you’ll see. I bloody loved this; an element of a movie that makes it all the more bound by anticipation – that kind of “Christ, there’s only two of them.. they’d better act their socks off – wonder if they’ll deliver?..”

Trust me, they delivered.

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George Clooney was what the movie needed I reckon – I never usually enjoy George if I’m honest; his slick, yet grey image bores me. (and I can never understand how he’s one of the A-list male celebrities 65% of planet Earth liken the ‘perfect relationship’ to. All those women going gooey over a man who honestly isn’t ‘all that’) – but his slick, smooth ways paid off in Gravity. Mainly because of his character’s sense of humour. Whilst his female colleague screams and gasps for air, he manages to cool the situation by rekindling her with a story of his ex-wife. This is where George excelled in this film – he was the cool, slick voice of reason.

Sandra.  Let’s face it, Gravity wouldn’t have been as effective with anyone else. I’ve been trying to decipher which category Bullock fits into; is she a serious actress? A comedienne? We see her in the likes of The Heat being hysterical, but then in something like Premonition where she falls to the floor crying, tears streaming down her cheeks..  she is an incredibly multi-talented actor, make no mistake. And this movie put her to the test.

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Sandra screams, cries, gasps and pants her way to glory. What she brings us is a sense of fear and genuine panic. As stranded Stone battles with fate, we are engulfed in a different kind of atmosphere; an atmosphere of dread – her race against time (and oxygen) to get home. And she plays it out effortlessly.  In fact, her superb performance left me thinking, “..just cut your losses, no?” – the result of her performance boasts this classic question: ‘face inevitability? Or fight til the end?’..

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Graphics & Visuals

Beautiful. And possibly the best element of the movie. If you manage to see Gravity but don’t make it to the cinema (where naturally, the lights are out) then I would strongly recommend you watch it at night, with the lights off. I was absolutely astounded.

Planet Earth is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a movie. Huge and bright, its detail is immaculate. From cloud patterns and continents, to the man-made lights twinkling up into space, its characteristics have been created with incredible precision. The boundaries are melted, as we witness the layers of planet Earth swimming against the backdrop of an oblivion of darkness.

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A gorgeous bright blue Earth – encased in a faint mist – the atmosphere. I have honestly never seen anything like it; being so up close with the outer space our giant rock is cradled in was mind-blowing. Yes, we have those BBC documentaries which give us a gorgeous, but clearly animated, grainy model of planet Earth, being poked at by huge arrows.. this was nothing like that.  Alfonso Cuarón has given us something so vast, so real, it would put the bloody National Geographic to shame.

Floating back to something solid for a second, and we have the space stations. The movie begins with Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski on their mission aboard the Space Shuttle Explorer. They then float across to the Hubble Space Telescope in order to service it. The Explorer is elaborate and holds a very technical structure; from something as mundane as a few tubes & wires, to the handles attached to the outside pods that our two troubled astronauts grab on to, the design is incredibly intricate. And then of course, we have the ISS – the station Stone and Kowalski try to access in their time of disaster..

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The ISS is a huge vehicle; its slim build yet vast copper-coloured wings give it a daunting image. Kind of like a gargantuan moth. But again, the detail is impeccable – the Truss segments and Starboard Photovoltaic Arrays are beautiful. We get a complete close-up here of that International Space Station up there above us, as if we’re bobbing by on a neighbouring shuttle. Just brilliant.

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DAT

As the two astronauts begin a spacewalk to the Hubble Telescope, they are alerted by Mission Control in Houston about a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite which has caused catastrophic results; a cloud of space debris – which is rapidly making its way toward them. Suddenly, communication with Mission Control is lost. And as they look up behind them, a terrifying sight – tumbling space junk is hurtling towards the Explorer. But before they can act, bits and pieces of metal smash into them, uprooting their stability and sending Dr Stone spinning into the darkness..

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Earth Bungee

The scene where the two astronauts literally grab hold of the International Space Station is a shocker. Upon noticing one of the Soyuz modules’s parachutes has been accidentally ejected, Stone’s leg gets caught in the parachute’s cords.. she is literally left bungeeing between ISS and Earth – a picture that is just incredible (in a good and bad fashion). As the cords tangle around her leg, she is yanked back toward the ISS (a godsend mishap) – but the whole scenario is brilliant. Keep an eye out for this, as its one of the more visually stunning scenes.

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The Northern Lights

One part of Gravity sees the sun disappear and darkness rise, as Stone floats helplessly around the Earth. But when she lifts her head and gets a glimpse of the Northern Hemisphere, she sees famous the Northern Lights – from a completely different angle than most people obviously –  and it is incredible. The breathtaking bright green dazzlers dance in a haze you’ve never before witnessed. Looking up at the Aurora Borealis from the ground is one thing, but seeing them from space.. fuck me, they’re sexy. i’ve actually been to Iceland myself and seen them – but from space, they are shimmer across the skin of the Earth like nothing you’ve ever seen – or probably ever will see.  Just another gorgeous visual the director delivered.

Gravity Jealousy

From a very young age, I’ve always loved outer space. From robots in flying saucers as a toddler, heavy books based on Astronomy as a teenager, through to my 26th birthday weekend trip to Iceland – because its closer to the Northern Hemisphere than London, and I could witness incredible planetary action. Its just one of those incredibly taboo subjects isn’t it – ‘up there’; we hardly think about it, because we’re too busy rushing around down here..

I was jealous.

As I sat watching the two astronauts floating around (OK, perhaps not when disaster struck) I felt a longing within myself; a deep passion began to awaken – and I sat there gagging for a piece of the cosmic pie.  That space up there belongs to all of us – everyone on Earth. We’re entitled to get up there. But financially, technically, we can’t.

Imagine being up there – looking down on the planet you came from. Suspended in the vast blackness, looking out across the stars in the distance – the moon lowers as the sun rises, and you witness with your own eyes more of Earth’s continents you will ever see in one go. The Earth – looking back at you as you realise you’ve torn down the biggest barrier in your life. 

..and you stepped into a different world. You were born on Earth, but have crossed into a different life. With one advantage – you can leave this Heaven and return home.

Yes. I was squirming with jealousy.

I am a special boy.

Space Extinguisher

There is another space station out there; a last hope of survival. Tiangong the Chinese space station is a short distance away – and as Stone frantically tries to dock the Soyuz with the station, her plan fails. The Soyuz is dead. So she basically grabs a fire extinguisher, ejects herself from the pod, and uses the tool as a makeshift thruster. With each spray (burst) into the atmosphere, she is propelled backward through space.. 

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What a bloody odd thing to see! Activating a fire extinguisher in outer space. Brilliant!

I must say, the overall effect of non-gravity is terrifying. As the two astronauts try to perform simple actions, they are thwarted by the natural inability to move properly. I would liken it to being underwater – you know that feeling when you’re deep down under, trying to grab at something or even move somewhere, but you’re constantly being pulled upward. Therefore making it extremely difficult (when not trying hard) to perform a simple action.

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Parts of this movie also reminded me of being in a swimming pool, due to the whole Body Compass aspect. Have you ever spun around deep underwater? Ever swam toward the surface with your eyes closed? Tried to swim for the surface, but you’re body compass is screwed and you’ve no idea which way is up or down?..  When Dr Stone is spinning through space for example, we see her moving but don’t know whether she’s moving up – or down – to the left – right? Direction doesn’t exist. She’s just drifting.  Its only when we get glimpses of Planet Earth behind her that we know roughly where she is, but even then the infinite planetary horizon is just a huge, daunting mass.

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During this movie, there are no car chases, no people jumping off bridges, climbing buildings or strutting  through airports. There is absolutely none of the cliché crap you will see in any other film (literally – even Apollo 13 gives us ground events and family gatherings in living rooms)

Mishaps and accidents in space are more difficult to deal with than on Earth, because of no gravity. This element is what drives the movie to new levels, and is exactly why I sat through an hour and a bit of film with my mouth hanging open.

Grass, concrete, cars, food, life – all gone. Imagine…

Push The Button – To Activate Sad Song

In a scene where Dr Stone tries to navigate a space shuttle, she is faced with a language different to her own. Every button, lever and clock face in the shuttle is Chinese. Even the help guide she picks up is indecipherable. Imagine how terrifying that would be – not only are you screwed in space, but when you think you’ve found salvation, its in a different bloody language!

Only seconds later, when Stone thinks she’s completely out of luck, the shuttle’s radar kicks into gear and a voice is heard..  it is a Greenlandic Inuit fisherman who has accidentally intercepted her frequency. from the world below. Her relief immediately evaporates when she realises the man does not speak English at all. From the broadcast, it is apparent the Icelandic native is singing a sad song in order to coo his crying baby to sleep. And as Dr Stone sits listening to this emotional moment between a father and child, she starts crying.

The atmosphere of this calming moment between a parent and baby, mixed with the fateful sadness of a woman stranded in the middle of space was eerie – you’re in trouble, yet someone is singing to you from a different universe, oblivious to the fact, and completely unable to help you. I nearly started crying myself whilst watching this.

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Gravity is a deliciously accurate, exciting story of isolation – within isolation. 

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Its ironic isn’t it; that there is absolutely nothing up there in space, yet I have so much to write about. I would seriously urge fans of Astronomy and people who work in the aeronautics and aerospace industries to watch this movie. And as for everyone else.. watch this movie.  Normally I don’t like to shove a movie down people’s throats – but this one I’ll even butter for you all.

I never knew why people generously used the phrase ‘on the edge of my seat’ (I mean, who would literally be sat on the edge of their seat? Is that not uncomfortable?), but I do now. Just a few minutes into Gravity, and I can categorically state that I was sitting on the edge of my seat. Slightly leaning forward, biting my nails.

A movie has never before made me react like that, but thank God it did.

If you have to pay, pay. It is worth every penny.

10/10

One comment on “Gravity

  1. luciana
    March 5, 2014

    Extinguisher scene remebrer wall-e scene!

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This entry was posted on November 9, 2013 by .
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