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Gravity - 3D Blu-ray Review

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Gravity - Movie Review

5 stars

Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is a masterpiece of sound and vision.  It achieves – in a crisp 90 minutes – everything that any filmmaker in love with the medium sets out to achieve.  Few attain it and most never produce a film as marvelous as the very Kubrickian atmosphere of Gravity.  Cuarón – the director who brought Y Tu Mamá También to the screen; style and personality to everyone’s favorite boy wizard with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; made us face the future in Children of Men – brings the same visual magic and realistic grace to the final frontier.

It must be noted that Gravity is not science fiction.  While it deals with NASA and space exploration, this is very much set in the familiar world; one populated by living and breathing and feeling humans.  You will not forget that fact.  There are no aliens.  No lasers.  And no light sabers.  There are no droids.  This is about disaster in the vastness of space and, I promise, you will – especially if you see it in its intended IMAX 3D presentation – feel every amount of anxiety, stress, tension, tear, and, ultimately, awe on Cuarón’s big screen canvas.

Gravity is – in its simplest form – a tale about mankind’s capacity to both marvel at the universe and survive the beautiful tragedy of it.  Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a loner, is about to be tested.  Floating above the earth, she – prodded along by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) on his final mission – attempts to complete her first mission for NASA.  In the final moments of her spacewalk debris from a recently scrapped Russian satellite hits Explorer, killing most of the crew and significantly damaging the shuttle.  Stone and Kowalsky, working against time as the debris is on a 90-minute rotation around the planet, must find a safe passage back home.

In space, there aren’t a lot of options for survival when your shuttle has been gutted…especially when Mission Control is no longer communicating with you.  The danger and hopelessness is palpable and so is the spectacle of it all.  Yet, it is the hope that will shake you to the core.

Technically speaking, Gravity is a stunning achievement of the cinema.  I can’t even begin to guess at how some of the shots were achieved.  This is bigger a spectacle than Avatar.   It is, hands down, a better crafted film, too.  Visual effects supervisor Tim Webber is to be commended for the seamless blend of live action, animation and CGI occurring throughout the film.  It is simply flawless.  As far as the 3D goes, never once does it feel anything less than totally integrated with the film's purpose.  Can most 3D films claim that?  No.

I know the actors weren’t actually filmed in space but there they are in a seamless presentation of deep space that never once betrays itself: the glorious glowing earth, then the shuttle itself, the lone figures moving around – swimming, if you will, in space – and all of this visual magic happens after these ominous words fill the screen: “At 600 km above Earth. . . there is nothing to carry sound. No air pressure. No oxygen. Life on space is impossible.”  That beginning sets the stage for the shock and awe of the film in an epic, swirling, stroke of pure art: a 13-minute single shot that is not unlike that of a ballet.

You’ve never seen anything like this 3D experience.  Nothing compares to the marvel of it all.  Nothing.  Gravity is in a league of its own.  It is dizzying, intense, and scary as hell.  Gravity, quite literally, sucks the air right out of your own oxygen supply.   The sight of a human being, who is very much alive, spiraling through space without tether and direction will leave you gasping for the air no longer available to them.

Bullock, who is quite marvelous here as the loner escaping her problems back home, provides the emotional core that is missing from so many films about space.  She’s a great character for the audience to identify with; her ability to convey blind fear is simply amazing and, as it should, inspires the reversal that suggest an inner strength that is as poetic as a Shakespearean sonnet.  Her performance here is one that should be honored with an Oscar.

Co-written, co-produced, co-edited and directed by Cuarón, there’s simply no way to argue with anything that he puts on the screen.  The metaphors are solid, the effects work, and the acting/situation is consistently heart-wrenching.  This is not a movie for your smartphone, Millennials.  In fact, I’m not even sure cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki would approve on watching the film on anything else but an IMAX screen.  Quite literally, Cuarón puts us inside the suits several times during the movie and, wow, simply wow; the POV effect is a chilling experience of isolation and determination.  That vertigo must be faced on a giant-sized screen.

This presentation of a weightless cinematic world is the reason why we go to the movies and, after a summer of mostly disappointment, Gravity feels like mankind’s last best hope for real cinematic awe and passion.  It absolutely delivers and, with an emotional conclusion that stirs the soul, I dare suggest that this is a new landmark in film.  Can the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director be far behind?  I don’t think so.

Gravity is more than the heart-pounding poetry of deep space; it is – as a whole – a representation of our collective hope that the people we are and the art we produce will lift troubled spirits when it matters most.

Gravity - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.
Runtime:
90 mins
Director
: Alfonso Cuarón
Writer: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Genre: Drama | Thriller
Tagline:
Don't Let Go
Memorable Movie Quote: "Explorer has been hit. Explorer, do you read?"
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
gravitymovie.warnerbros.com
Release Date: October 4, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.

Synopsis: Academy Award® winners Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) and George Clooney (“Syriana”) star in “Gravity,” a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. The film was directed by Oscar® nominee Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men”).

Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness.

The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left.

But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space

Gravity - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet

Available on Blu-ray - February 25, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (2 BDs, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy; Blu-ray 3D
Region Encoding: Region-free

Warner brings Gravity to Blu-ray Disc in two combo package flavors, one featuring both the 2D and 3D editions and one featuring just the 2D edition. It is worth mentioning that the 3D does make the difference in your viewing of the movie. However, the 2D disc was even more satisfying when evaluating the inky-deep blackness of space and the rich colors of mother Earth, but it's hard to say which version I prefer. The good news is, there's no wrong answer. In 2D or 3D, Gravity is a visual stunner on Blu-ray. The fantastic score by Steven Price and the rich soundtrack filled with countless, localized ambient sounds and a brilliant use of silence when appropriate is rendered perfect by the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio which will give your stereo a definite workout.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None. I suspect, after it wins a bunch of Oscars, we will get another edition of this film.

Special Features:

On the 2D Blu-ray disc (only), you'll find a host of first rate extras covering every aspect of the film's production. Featuring an assortment of engaging interviews, each presented in high definition, every single extra here is well worth a watch. Thankfully there's very little fluff and taken together these supplements serve to make an already impressive production that much more.

  • Gravity: Mission Control (107 min)
  • Shot Breakdowns (37 min)
  • Aningaaq: A Short Film by Jonás Cuarón (10 min)
  • Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space (22 min)

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