Saturday, October 5, 2013

Defying Gravity

I have no idea why I didn't write a review of Gravity right after I saw an advanced screening two weeks ago. It has taken me almost this long just to accept that it actually happened and that I actually experienced that most amazing...thing. I saw the teaser trailer when it was released and forbid myself from watching the full trailer and other clips until after I saw the movie. So if you haven't seen the trailer yet, DON'T. Just watch the teaser and be prepared to be even more blown away!

Gravity is more than just a film: it is a cinematic experience which assaults your senses in the most stylish, unexpecting, and welcoming of ways. I still remember the film (more than a 'movie') starting and me not knowing how such a piece of work would be able to begin. But the few lines of text appeared and then the vastness of space in 3D appeared. My giddy eyes reeled from the cinematographic and special effects beauty, the long takes deepening my focused and aroused senses.

Sandra gives the performance of a lifetime as Dr. Ryan Stone. Yes, I know. Every new movie that Sandra Bullock is in has these same lines attached, but this time it is even more true! She dons a boyish haircut, which adds to her vulnerable character (bringing to mind one of my top 3 shots of the film. Can I explain it? No, that would ruin the moment. But the shot creeps up on you in the softest of ways and once you realize what is being captured, your heart just wants to embrace the full power of the image. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey.). Dr. Stone's transformation is beautiful. It begins after she tells us about her daughter (no spoilers) and continues through the final shot of the film, a memorable extreme, low angle shot of her rising and defying gravity.

There are a million things to say about this film but to simply write them in a blogpost does none of it justice. I cried three separate times thanks to Sandra's performance and I walked out of the theatre knowing the Oscar should already be split between her and Cate Blanchett (for Blue Jasmine), despite the already insane amount of Best Actress Oscar hype. The cinematography is instantly jaw-dropping because it really does look like space (I've been scouring the web to find a real IMAX theatre around here) and the camera movements will have you reeling for something to hold onto. The special effects will have you asking yourself over and over "How did they do that?! They really must be in space!" Every slight movement or particle in the air acts as if it were 'weightless'. My third favorite sequence is when water droplets disperse and one splatters on the camera lens. Every string that gets bumped in the space station and every blast from the fire extinguisher are as fluid as hair gliding in the wind.

The sound editing is almost just as important in transporting you into the perils of what is happening. While the camera moves seamlessly from space to the inside of Sandra's helmet, the flawless sound transitions from Sandra's deep breaths and frantic calls for help to the vacuum of space where not even Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) can hear or help her. Alfonso cleverly and constantly switches between barriers to make sure the audience doesn't become fully comfortable with the horrific situation. He keeps you saying "What the heck could come next?" and of course, something even worse happens.

There are moments (yes, plural) that I stopped breathing or held my breath hoping it would replenish Dr. Stone's disappearing supply of oxygen. The beauty, the magic, the intensity, and the power of this film escapes me. It should without a doubt be seen in 3D. The technology is subtle in many ways, yet I also caught myself blinking when I wasn't expecting meteorites to fly towards me.

Now, I hope none of this scares you. I started this post off by saying Gravity is an experience you need to fully immerse yourself in and if you do that, it will be one of the most fulfilling things you do this fall. It will not escape attention from the press or a growing cult fanbase for the months or years to come. It already rose from 8.5 to 8.7 after the official opening day (Friday Oct 4) on IMDB and is (not surprisingly) Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. If I get you to rethink seeing this film because you are afraid of heights or space, then I have done my job. I already convinced my grandma so there must be a few more waivering souls out there.

Do yourself a favor today. Take a break from work or studying and go see Gravity. I guarantee it is like nothing you have experienced before.
For the much-awaited arrival of Fall, I bring to you a pumpkin smoothie! So cozy up in front of the fire with this smooth delight :)

3-4 oz. frozen pumpkin pie filling (freeze ahead of time!)
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
dash of cinammon

After you blend everything together, feel free to top your drink with crushed (cinammon) graham crackers. Or go ahead and add them to your drink!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review, Nick! It really was an insane--on the edge of my seat the entire time. Also, the full power of that first of 3 images that you talked about really did blow me away--somehow they did it with both clarity and subtlety (it really does creep up on you).

    But yeah, ultimately, I want to say it was my favorite movie of the year thus far, but it almost seems strange to label it a movie and not an experience!