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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Gravity

Here we are once again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly watching of a movie I own, and blogging about it, because I really need a hobby.  Today, we get to one of the critical darlings of 2013, Gravity.  This pops up in my notes at March 9, 2014.

Man Vs. The Elements.  One of the oldest tales there is.  Translated into modern Hollywood as the "survival film."  Survival films have generally become indie fare.  I mean, all you need is one actor, a remote location, and you go to town.  So it's rare that you get a survival film that's a big, Hollywood blockbuster.  I think the last one was Tom Hanks' Cast Away.  So when Gravity first hit theatres, a lot of critics were all like, "Wow.  It's like [director] Alfonso Cuaron has made an indie film at a Hollywood level." 

I will admit, when Gravity came out, I was willing to give it a pass.  Yeah, I've always been interested in all space stuff, but the commercials and trailers weren't capturing my attention.  Plus, survival films in general have never been my thing.  I was fairly meh towards Cast Away.  I remember watching The Naked Prey in Grade 6 and being less than impressed.  But, with overwhelmingly positive reviews, coupled with a desire to just get out and do something, I went to see it.  Based on online comments, I even decided to pay the extra and see it 3D IMAX. 

And boy, am I glad I did, because the movie is frikkin' amazing

First film in a long time where I was literally biting my nails during the film because I'd become so invested in the characters and I just couldn't wait to see what happens next. 

The premise:  two astronauts while out on a spacewalk are faced with an unprecedented disaster.  A chain reaction has created a cloud of space junk that just decimates the space shuttle.  Our astronauts are now stranded in orbit, completely cut off from Houston Control (the debris took out most communications satellites), their only way home completely inoperative.  How do they get home?

As is the common pairing in such films, we have a season vet and a rookie.  The seasoned vet is Lt. Mike Kowalski, played by the ever-charming George Clooney.  This is his final flight, as he'll be retiring afterwards, and he's enjoying it as much as he can.  The rookie is Mission Specialist Ryan Stone, played by the also awesome Sandra Bullock.  This is her first mission, and she was kind of rushed through training, so she's pretty nervous about the whole mission.  And of course, when the disaster strikes, she has trouble keeping it together, but Kowalski is able to talk her through it. 

This movie really is Stone's story, because (spoiler warning) Kowalski eventually has to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her, and she is left fully and completely alone.  She struggles to survive, leaps from one spacecraft to another hoping to find one that will get her home, and, of course, along the way, winds up having to deal with her own emotional baggage. 

This movie is awful scary, too.  Part of that emotional investment I was talking about earlier.  It helps that the 1980s-ish score, heavily featuring synthesizers, sounds like a 1980s horror film. 

The special effects.  Not much to say, except that that Oscar for Best Visual Effects was well earned. 

Really don't have much to say.  It's amazing.  It's fantastic.  I loved it.  It's the only Best Picture nominee of 2013 that I actually saw. 

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