November 21, 2013 by hattersleysmith
Hailed by the Guardian as ‘a brilliant and inspired movie-cyclorama’, the Independent as ‘awe-inspiring film-making’ and by TimeOut as ‘ one of the most awe-inspiring achievements in the history of special-effects cinema’, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity was a whopping great big cowpat of a disappointment.
All the five star reviews had led me to picture a beautiful, heart-wrenching narrative, in my mind involving a gorgeously shot flashback of life on the space ship with the constant reminder that the central character is floating aimlessly, doomed to debris in space. Aside from my legs going a bit tingly in the opening ten minutes of 3D spinning, the entire film was ultimately a souped up Hollywood sequence of clichés, film devices and improbabilities.
Within half an hour, the audience have sat through the climax (Russian missile debris rips apart space vessel), the reunion (‘wow, you managed to find me so soon after the crash’), the countdown (‘oh no, I’m running out of oxygen and I’m going to die’), the corpse (body of co-worker with a hollowed out face), the frustrated romance (‘we can’t kiss in spacesuits’) and the Titanic moment (‘don’t let go Jack’) all underscored by an utterly predictable soundtrack which violently swings pornographically between Jurassic-Parkesque dun-dun-duuhhhh and the blatantly obvious silence of space punctuated by a few beeps.
Oh, and then there’s a series of unfortunate events as Bullock is involved in an explosive fire, Bullock narrowly misses a flame ball, there’s another countdown as she forgets how to work the dang escape pod, she manages to free herself and get in the escape pod, it’s out of fuel, she eventually reaches the Chinese space shuttle, it’s also been evacuated, there’s another massive debris storm, she can’t work the escape pod because the instructions are in Chinese, she’s sucked towards earth and might burn up, miraculously she lands, then she might drown, then she surfaces, all without a morsel of space food passing her lily lips.
*BIG SPOILER ENDED*
It’s a shame, because I’ve read a lot about the making of the film, the harnesses, the absence of make-up, the meticulous placing of every floating spanner, nut and ping-pong bat. The visuals are undoubtedly amazing, but the abysmal plot negates all.
And just when Gravity could have redeemed itself, when Bullock hurtles towards earth and a simple cut to black would have left the audience gripped in suspense as the credits loomed, enthralled by the protagonist’s unknown fate, some dimwit of a scriptwriter decided she should land, happily, in one piece.
I’m angry with the critics. To compare Cuarón’s film to the sheer artistic brilliance and originality of Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is surely the film fanatic’s equivalent of comparing ‘Paradise Lost’ to ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.
If you want to see what all the hype is about, go see it, otherwise I wouldn’t bother.