I know I haven’t written much since the spring. Life happens.
Anyway, despite neither of us having much prior interest in the film, Buie and I went and saw Gravity this past weekend. First, the things I did like about the movie.
1. It’s in space!
2. It’s a visual masterpiece. The wide shots of earth quietly spinning in the vast nothingness of the black, the special effects, the zero G floating, Sandra Bullock climbing out of a space suit ala Barbarella.
3. For a film that really only has two people in it, Gravity is very well acted. Both George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are great in their roles. Bullock especially turns in an emotional performance… which brings me to what I didn’t like about Gravity.
I just didn’t give a shit about these people.
The action in this film starts off almost instantly. You really only have about 5 minutes from opening credits to BOOM! “Oh Fuck, we’re stuck in space!” to get to know these two characters. The calamity that destroys their ship and leaves them floating helplessly in space is what NASA refers to as The Kessler Syndrome and is sparked off by the Russians when they blow up one of their own spy satellites which then spins out of control and takes out other satellites, spaceships, and space stations and turns them all into a giant debris field hurtling like speeding bullets around the planet. Before all this happens, all we learn about our heroes is that Mission Commander Matt Kowalski (Clooney) has a bad feeling about the mission that reminds him of a story, and Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a scientist of some kind who is having trouble keeping her lunch down in zero G.
George Clooney does a great job playing George Clooney in space and does a little more to illuminate his character. Through a series of quirky stories and good natured ribbing of his fellow astronauts we see that he is the veteran astronaut of the team. Dr. Stone, on the other hand, has almost no back story whatsoever until much later in the film. The result of this is that while all of these horrific events were transpiring I simply found myself being pretty bored. I had absolutely no emotional attachment to these characters. I didn’t really care if they made it or not. I had no reason to root for them other than that they were part of Team Human. I watched a good part of the film in awe of the scenery and not really caring about the plight of the characters.
Later on when Dr. Stone’s story opens up and Bullock puts on the serious acting hat I started to care a little bit, but by then the movie was almost over. With a run time of under an hour and a half I feel like they could have pushed it closer to two hours and squeezed in a little more substance in order to make this film truly epic. Instead, all we get is a pretty trip into space, some nice Michael Bayish explosions, and a story that felt hollow despite the excellent caliber of the actors telling it. And all of that is not even taking into consideration the complete disregard of physics throughout the film, but I’m willing to forgive that.
Overall, Gravity is an incredibly decent film, it’s just not great.