Review for Gravity
I think I’ll forever be catching up with movies that everyone else has seen, and that I should have seen years ago when the hype train was still rolling. There’s just not enough time to watch them all. Today’s decade-old blockbuster I’m seeing for the first time is Alfonso Cuaron’s gravity, which back in 2013 was just as much a cinematic game-changer as James Cameron’s Avatar. The worrying thing is that I found Gravity on a pound-shop shelf; not a good sign for one of the best movies of the twenty-teens. But I do recall at the time that the critical advice was to watch Gravity on as big a screen as possible, preferably IMAX, and preferably in 3D. Perhaps watching a Blu-ray on a 40-odd inch set just won’t compare.
The space shuttle Explorer is in orbit, conducting maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope. Or rather astronaut Ryan Stone is. Mission commander Matt Kowalski is testing a new jet pack, while astronaut Shariff is enjoying the view. But an incident with a Russian satellite sends a spray of debris out, which itself strikes other satellites sending out more debris. The chain reaction threatens everything in low earth orbit, and the shuttle crew are ordered to abort the mission. But before they can, the debris hits, severing the robotic arm that Stone is on, and sending her spinning, out of control into space.
Gravity gets a 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and French, and DD 5.1 Spanish, German, Italian, and English audio descriptive, with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish. It’s an excellent transfer of a recent film. Detail levels are outstanding, colours are rich and consistent, and given the prevalence of outer space shots, black levels are deep, and vivid, without ever being crushed. The audio too is completely immersive, and wholly impressive, keeping the dialogue clear and emphasising the music without being obvious, while maintaining the verisimilitude about the silence of space. The visual effects are wonderfully accomplished as well. Quite frankly, the A/V quality was so good that I was just lost in the film, without pausing to take any notes.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray with a long-expired and defunct UV code.
After playing a trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the disc boots to an animated menu. You know you’ll have a lot to appreciate when the run time of the extras exceeds that of the movie!
Gravity: Mission Control is a 9 part making of which runs to 106:36 in total.
There are 5 Parts in Shot Breakdowns (36:48)
Documentary: Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space: Narrated by Ed Harris lasts 22:28.
Aningaaq – A Short Film By Jonas Cuaron lasts 10:11 with an optional introduction.
For 90 minutes, Gravity owned me. I just couldn’t turn away. Its compelling drama and edge of the seat adventure was perfectly done. There’s something in people facing adversity that makes for great cinema, and you can’t get any more adverse than an astronaut, lost in space, the oxygen in her space suit running out. She will somehow overcome this challenge to survive, but you can’t think of a much bigger challenge, and you certainly can’t see how it can be done. It’s like someone pushed off the top of the Empire State Building. They can choose to either scream all the way to their death, or spend the next 103 storeys trying to learn how to fly. Ryan Stone chooses to learn how to fly, however unlikely that prospect is.
Gravity certainly is a visual spectacle, and even if you won’t get the full effect watching in 2D on a (for 2020) small television set, you can appreciate the amazing visual aesthetic and wonderful direction, as well as the immersive sound design. It’s paced perfectly too, getting the cycle between adrenaline fuelled intensity and moments of peace and reflection spot on, so that we get the full effect of the story coupled with the character study and development. There’s even a great homage to Jaws that I wasn’t expecting, a deft reminder that this too is a film that is more thrill ride than thoughtful narrative. As it is, one of the few qualms I might have about this film could be its re-watch value. It’s not a film with more secrets to uncover with subsequent viewings, and the story is simple but striking enough to remain in the mind even years afterwards. That might go some way to explaining why this disc was in the bargain basement.
Of course I have to nitpick just a bit, not least about having all the important locations in low earth orbit within a comparative space-walk distance of each other. The story wouldn’t have worked without that convenience. I also recall how Apollo 13 shot all its Zero-G sequences aboard the vomit-comet for verisimilitude, but Gravity has to make do with harnesses and special effects. Most astronauts in reality are pretty puffy in freefall, but Sandra Bullock makes for the most buff and toned astronaut we’ve probably seen in cinema, and no matter how much her body may be floating around without gravity, her hair remains on Earth; either that or astronauts use industrial strength hairspray.
Gravity is a great film which has to be seen, and on the strength of this first viewing, I can fully appreciate all the accolades it amassed in 2013. I’m not convinced on the re-watchability or indeed collectability of the film, although given the bumper extras package this disc gets, that could be some justification. I remember Gravity being a reference disc when it was released, and it stands up just as strongly today. It’s a film that you want to watch on cutting edge home cinema kit, not a bedroom TV.