Two reviews of GRAVITY

So here is an idea. My wife would like to watch the movie GRAVITY this evening, and as this will almost certainly be a day where I need to take it easy, I can write a review of the film.

But before I do that, I want to go ahead and write a review of the film.

I know, I know, it is all very confusing!

Though pulling out my oracular gifts is an option, I shall keep a closed eye to the future, not peeking at my own review before writing it. (If I could only do that with the rest of my writing… but then, I suppose, it would not be much fun, would it?)

As far as the movie is concerned, I will write my first review based off of what little I know of it from promotional materials, a trailer, the collective unconscious of Western society as interpreted by my Twitter feed, and the reactions of those I know who saw the film.

GRAVITY. The general public may not think much about just how dangerous existence in a near vacuum can be. Certainly, one cannot prepare for every contingency, but these two astronauts, and the support staff on the planet’s surface below, thought they had all their bases covered.

They. Were. Wrong.

Once the ball gets rolling, bringing one misfortune after another, the two begin to truly understand that their only support, the people running around with calculators and schematics, are very, very far away.

The soundtrack really captures the essence of their fight to survive, a battle against the machinery upon which they rely as well as against the coldness of space.

Audiences will not be sure of the fate of their two heroes, right up until the end.

– – –

Well, wasn’t that a riveting and kind of terrible movie review?

I am glad that we got that out of the way. Now, to get the full effect, wait around two hours before reading what follows.

You’re not going to wait, are you?

Well, that’s fine. I’ll be back in a couple of hours, even if you don’t notice my absence.

– – –

I’m back, and pretty wrong.

For one thing, the movie is actually only about an hour and a half long. Often, a ninety minute runtime is indicative of a bad movie, but making this one any longer would have hurt it.

For another, the overarching plot does not involve cooperation between our estranged astronauts and mission control back on Earth. I will not elaborate on the reasons, but what I have said so far should not be particularly spoiler-y.

The movie works, and I think I know one big reason why: the movie follows one astronaut, Ryan, and the narrative sticks to her. Even when she separates from companions, we get everything basically from her perspective. This helped ground me in the action, helped to make the story more personal, and, ostensibly, more real.

The action is intense, with the situation flying out of the control of our astronauts in the most feasibly dramatic way possible at every turn. It is especially gripping if. You have ever considered just how dangerous it is outside our atmosphere. Micro-gravity (not ZERO gravity, folks) and no air resistance means that every move you make matters, for better or worse.

Since the entire plot takes place throughout the process of recovering from the initial disaster, the writers did an impressive job of building characters. In this setting, it would have been simple enough to let the movie slide on the premise alone. And you know what? I would’ve enjoyed that movie okay. But this movie, with its human characters, slams the intensity into your face harder than I thought it would.

Another thing that they did was gloss over the reasoning behind the troubles that occur for our astronauts, only giving us (and them) enough information to grasp what is about to happen to them.

All in all, I would say that GRAVITY is a worthwhile film, well made, well acted, well written. Though its plot is certainly a bit unbelievable, the brand of unbelievability is more the ‘wow-I-can’t-believe-they-pulled-that-off’ than the ‘that-doesn’t-seem-scientifically-possible.’

Final verdict: watch it. With the lights off.

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