“Half of North America just lost their Facebook.”
Not only has Alfonso Cuaron’s wonderfully crafted film restored my waning faith in the future of 3D cinema, but its concise plot and simple yet striking cinematography is a welcome change of pace in an era full of noisy, bloated popcorn flicks with convoluted story lines. Sandra Bullock, silently making her way up the prestige ladder in recent years with a string of excellent performances, stars as Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer whom finds herself stranded in space alongside veteran astronaut George Clooney. These two characters alone make up the entirety of the film, which only heightens the empathetic feeling of isolation. In fact, every element of Gravity seems tailored to fit Cuaron’s astronomical vision, culminating in what could arguably be described as a cinematic masterpiece.
After viewing a preview trailer for the ropey-looking I-Frankenstein in 3D, I duly worried that the next 90 mins might be full of more out-of-focus figures throwing things at the camera with a infantile grin spread across their face. But once the first scene of Gravity opens, as the viewer hovers vertiginously above a beautifully created planet Earth, one is instantaneously immersed into an uncanny depiction of outer space. I for one was immediately blown away by the difference in quality between the 3D trailers and the feature presentation, giving testament to what can be achieved when full dedication is given to the sub-genre.
As well as the unerring realism created by Cuaron, there is plenty of clear but digestible metaphors dotted throughout the film to sink your teeth into, from a floating foetal Bullock having difficultly with basic human functions such as movement and breathing, to a giant umbilical cord. I inevitably spent much of the next day at work distracted by the procession of images lingering like shadows behind my eyes. In fact, the whole experience reminded me of Kubrick’s landmark film 2001: A Space Odyssey , from the deliberately over-scored soundtrack, to the evolutionary nods that have a memorable and cinematic conclusion at the end of the film. Not only does Gravity have a wonderfully designed persona and vision that holds its own brilliance, but both actors do an excellent job of etching the correct emotion onto each of their lines, a tough job considering the demands of acting in a superficial environment.
Despite its near perfection, there is only one problem with Gravity . I am concerned primarily for its existence beyond the realm of 3D cinema. As expected, there are moments of desensitisation to the surreal experience, which left me analysing a film that on the face of it has a fairly unassuming set of plot lines and pretty slow dialogue. This may sound like an undue criticism considering the film does not do anything unintentionally, but assuming that most will not have acquired a television with the latest 3D capability on the film’s release onto DVD, I am not sure that Gravity has enough teeth to keep an audience going for years to come. I cannot help but feel that the slight repetition of suspense scenarios within the subtly episodic structure of the film may damage its long term potential and fan base. The film is easily tight enough to not induce genuine boredom, but I just worry that when the visual meat is stripped away, all that is left is Clooney floating through space with that cheesy, all knowing grin on his face that may start to peel away at even the most avid science-fiction enthusiast.
Shapstik Verdict: Although Gravity 3D is heavily reliant on its medium, it is also the first made-for-cinema film that I can genuinely say is more than just a visual treat. Its vivid ideal is so crammed full of clever cinematography, it ironically creates the most convincing depiction of empty space ever conceived on film. Rekindling the cinema experience like no other, Cuaron’s handling of the 3-dimensional paintbrush slams a striking benchmark onto 3D cinema. 9/10