andra Bullock and George Clooney earn their danger pay in Gravity.

Reel Reviews: Film floats on its visual effects

Gravity is a breathtaking tale of survival in outer space.

  • Oct. 13, 2013 8:00 a.m.

Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are NASA astronauts floating 600 kilometres above the Earth when an accident leaves them stranded.

Gravity is a breathtaking tale of survival in outer space.

We say, “How did they do that?”

TAYLOR: That is the key question and one I want answered. I’ll definitely be buying the DVD, just so I can watch the making of features. I want to know how they made this film. (It took seven years!) The first 15 minutes is “one take” that changes points of view (to the impossible) without cutting. Obviously, there are computer graphics combined with clever camera work done with green screens and all the usual techniques a filmmaker would use to make shots like these happen. But still, wow!

I think people who would take the believability of the special effects in a film today as a given, might not be as impressed as I am with the sheer technical brilliance of Gravity, and therefore might not be as astounded as I am, but this is a film on par with 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and The Matrix in terms of what it means to future movies.

Having said that, the story itself is fairly straightforward. What we have here is a shipwreck survivor trying to get home.

HOWE: I will agree to disagree. Yes it’s beautiful to look at and very similar to Life of Pi in that aspect. But to me watching a movie that’s one second showing space, then Earth bobbing into view, then disappearing again, can only hold the attention for so long. To put it on par with 2001 (which is still the best space movie to date) is a bit of a stretch as Stanley Kubrick didn’t have all the gizmos that filmmakers have at their disposal today. If you gave the script to any of the top directors today —Spielberg, Bruckheimer, Cameron, just to name a few— they would make it look amazing. Kubrick was just a genius.

TAYLOR: There were aspects of the story that didn’t really make any sense to me, but every time I found myself wishing that something went differently, I simply had to remind myself that I was on the edge of my seat, holding my breath.

HOWE: The plot was pretty ridiculous. It reminded me of video games; you know the type: start here, do the quest, that fails, then go to the next quest and so on. I know I’m going to be in the minority of people that weren’t really impressed with Gravity, but that’s just because I’ve didn’t get blinded by the fancy Band-aid they stuck over this weak-scripted howler.

TAYLOR: This is a special, unique film that boggles my mind. I deduct half a point for some fundamental plot failure and half a point for being a bit silly (they could have talked to themselves less, this movie doesn’t need words), but these deductions are akin to complaining about Captain Kirk’s bad breath after he gives you a guided tour of the galaxy. It’s just not going to matter. Go see Gravity, on the big screen, in 3D, twice. It’s something to marvel at.

– Taylor gives Gravity 4 FX Oscars out of 5.

Howe gives it 3 bundles of space rubbish out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, runs in the Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.


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