MOVIE: ***** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Sandra Bullock as RYAN STONE
George Clooney as MATT KOWALSKI
Ed Harris as MISSION CONTROL
Orto Ignatiussen as ANINGAAQ
Phaldut Sharma as SHARIFF
Amy Warren as EXPLORER CAPTAIN
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
BY KEVIN CARR
It’d damn hard to make a perfect movie. Arguably, it’s impossible to make a perfect movie because there are infinite problems and pitfalls that can occur. However, Alfonso Cuarón and his team has made as perfect of a film as they could with “Gravity.”
After a huge success at the box office and a continuing award season run, “Gravity” is now available on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD. This is one of the must-see movies of 2013, and it’s worthy of the best possible presentation you can give it.
The story follows Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a woman on a space shuttle mission that encounters a debris field that destroys the ship. With the help of astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), Stone tries to survive the vacuum of space by jumping from space station to space station before the debris field wipes her out completely.
For a detailed discussion of the film itself, check out my theatrical review. It was one of the most gripping movies of the year, and it dealt with some heavy issues of isolation, trust, life and science. A relatively short film for award consideration, “Gravity” never overstays its welcome, and Sandra Bullock is fantastic in a role that features her as the only actor on screen for most of the film.
A lot of noise was made about this movie being converted to 3D, though that’s an unfair assessment. Because of the use of CGI, the film was rendered in 3D, and it looks fantastic that way. Even stepped down to a home entertainment platform, the 3D is crisp and immersive. Even people who are down on 3D as a medium have acknowledged that this movie is worth the process and ideally viewed in such a way. Sure, a home 3D system isn’t going to be as good as IMAX 3D, but it’s definitely worth the extra cost to watch it that way.
While there isn’t the standard slate of special features you’d expect with a film like this, there’s plenty of behind-the-scene and bonus content to make it worth a buy. No commentary, deleted scenes or gag reel exist, but the anchor feature makes up for much of this.
“Gravity: Mission Control” is a nine-part documentary chronicling the development and production of the film. With a running time that’s about ten minutes longer than the feature itself, this documentary starts with the concept of the film and takes the viewer through the intensely complex process of the visual effects. One might be tempted to dismiss the production of “Gravity” by saying they just used CGI to create the film, but it is the seamless integration of live-action actors into the computer generated environment.
After watching what the production had to go through to achieve the weightless footage, the long shots of open space, the ever-changing light sources in the film, I want to watch the film a dozen times over to admire its artistry.
A friend of mine who isn’t a huge fan of the film made a comment that this movie won’t be remembered past this year’s Oscar ceremony. While I don’t think this is the case since it’s an expertly made movie and should find a place in cinema history alongside other realistic space adventures like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Moon,” from a technical standpoint, “Gravity” will be remembered as groundbreaking.
Just as people still hold “Avatar” up as the gold standard for 3D action and photorealistic environments, “Gravity” will be the new benchmark on how to achieve seemingly impossible special effects of the day. This is this generation’s “Apollo 13,” and it deserves to be remembered.
If you don’t get enough of the film’s production in the “Gravity: Mission Control” documentary, you can also check out five shot breakdowns, which amounts to about 35 minutes of material. This takes a more in-depth look into how various elements of the film were achieved, including how the helmet visor was generated, how fire was handled in space, the use of sound and the execution of the splashdown sequence.
Rounding out the special features is the 22-minute documentary “Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space,” which examines the danger of space debris and what international space organizations are doing to keep things safe above our atmosphere.
Finally, we have the short film “Aningaaq,” directed by Jonás Cuarón, which is a ten-minute story of the man Stone contacts on the radio while she is alone in space, told from the other side.
If you didn’t see “Gravity” in the theaters, I’m sorry to say that you have missed out. However, it’s still worth seeing on Blu-ray, not just for the dramatic action, but for the at-home 3D experience.