Reader review: Gravity


3D. It’s a tricky one. For an age old technology that I first encountered in the form of childhood ruining travesty Jaws 3-D, you can understand my scepticism when James Cameron confidently declared “All entertainment will soon be in 3D”.

He was of course marketing his 3D epic Avatar at the time, a film that convinced many that Cameron might be right.

Then followed a plethora of films trying to cash in the new fad. The Amazing Spider-Man, Underworld: Awakening, Saw 3D and my Piranha 3D are a few of the films made worse by the technology. Much worse.

We’re talking fuzzy objects flying out at you, blurry action sequences and cinematography ruined by awful depth of field issues, leaving everything looking out of focus just so an axe or gun looks a little bit closer to us.

Here’s Sir Dimention the 3rd himself James Cameron explaining why:

“It’s to make money. Pushing 3D conversions on directors who are not comfortable with it. It’s one thing to shoot in 3D and another to convert it”.

In summary, talented directors like Cameron can use it properly as an effective cinematic technique, where as most 3D films are merely converted in post production to make the distributors more money.

Ground control to Alfonso Cuarón (couldn’t resist).

Gravity’s director clearly knows how to use a camera, as his films are absolutely stunning, primarily due to his partnership with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.

From the fantastical subterranean scenery in Pans Labyrinth to dystopian London in Children of Men, Cuarón and Lubezki have dropped many a jaw, and Gravity is no exception.

This film is absolutely beautiful, and all the better for being in 3D.

It gets straight into the action with the breathtaking destruction of a space shuttle caused by rogue satellite debris (damn those pesky spying Russians!). What follows is a dazzling display of computer generated action sequences.

Not since Jurassic Park have I been so awestruck by a film’s use of CGI. From the glowing terra-forma backdrop to the realistic weightless floating, Cuarón has done an oscar worthy job on the 80% of the film that was created in post production. There’s not a blurry 3D gimmick in sight as fire, water and even tears float towards the audience and settle perfectly on the fourth wall.

Gravity doesn’t just look great. Cuarón has created the most memorable Sci-Fi soundscape since Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Heartbeats, heavy breathing, space muffled sound effects, all set against a minimalistic soundtrack make for an incredibly powerful audible experience amplifying the tension tenfold.

Uniquely, from start to finish, Gravity’s story is told in real time. We get 90 minutes of pure action, which doesn’t leave much time for character development. Clooney’s Matt is the arrogant but wise veteran to Sandra Bullock’s nervous rookie Ryan, the lead role.

Both performances are competent considering many won’t be paying too much attention, distracted by the feast for the senses on show.