‘Gravity’ 3D Review

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OVERALL RATING 3.5/4

 Cinematography

It’s beautiful. George Clooney doesn’t need to mention it as much as he does because we all know it. The reflections in the space-suit helmets, the pitch-black starry sky, and the appearance of Earth are a lot more believable than any other space films.

The best part of the cinematography though is the intricate long takes that draw you in right from the opening sequence, with a camera that feels like it’s floating and spinning in zero gravity along with the astronauts. It’s a film full of long takes that reminisce that really amazing car scene from Children of Men. The entire film ends up feeling so much like a long take that I began forcing myself to pay attention to when there would finally be cuts. Needless to say, Emmanuel Lubezki, who works frequently with Cuarón and likewise has an adaptable filmography, nails the negative space as well. A space film isn’t awesome without negative space anyways.

Acting

It’s a good thing Sandra Bullock got this role instead of any of the other potential actresses. She’s emotional, she’s funny, and she’s honest. There’s never a sense that she’s trying too hard to sell the believability of a scene, and she definitely made me nearly want to cry at one point (that rarely happens for me). There are a lot of emotional shifts that go with her character and she eases well into those transitions.

Give her another Academy Award, especially for that whole final act.

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George Clooney plays a charming , space-man version of George Clooney. That’s basically it, and you love him for it. It’s easy enough to picture Robert Downey Jr. in that role he almost had, but that shouldn’t take away from Clooney. His character is just the space partner Bullock’s character needs, and I’ll leave it at that before I give away too much.

Directing 

Alfonso Cuarón’s filmography exhibits a versatile range of films, all of which he executes well. Gravity is no exception, and it’s arguably his best cinematic endeavor, although that’s a tough contest against Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá Tambien, and my personal favorite of the Harry Potter films. What is there to say except that this guy is a genius? In his films, no matter how elaborate or action-oriented, the best thing he accomplishes is getting to the emotional core through subtleties in the performances of his actors.

Writing

Gravity, written by the director and his son,  provide a satisfying amount of backstory for its characters. That’s obviously important for any film, especially ones with minimal characters for audiences to, no pun intended, gravitate towards. More importantly for this film in particular, without giving anything away, is that the backstories add an extra layer for the audience putting themselves in the character’s positions. Would we just give up? Would we be so optimistic, calm, or trusting? Would we make or accept those sacrifices? There’s enough backstory for empathy, and that’s crucial for a film that has you holding on to very few characters in one place (yes, in the context of movies I call space a single location). There’s a good balance of existential crisis and humor as well. I doubt that’s easy to pull off, but Gravity makes it appear so.

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The ending is pretty damn powerful too. I wish I could tell you what it is.  Go see this film. Seriously.

Score

Steven Price’s score strikes plenty of emotional chords in this space epic. It does a perfect job building tension in an immensely stressful atmosphere while not losing the sense of how amazing the visuals are. It doesn’t take away from the hauntingly silent, breathtaking environment (again, no pun intended… well maybe a little), even though it also motivates a reminder of a horrifying situation. My only issue is the heartbeat sounds interwoven into the score at certain moments, because heartbeats are overdone and I think we can be a little more creative than that.

Jurassic Park 3D Re-Release

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Visually, Jurassic Park is one of the most incredible films ever made with an entertaining 3D re-release. The lighting, from projectors to headlights or flashlights, makes the film as aesthetically badass as a theme park of dinosaur clones. Camerawork, more than the plot itself, draws the audience in. Every shot motivates pulling attention somewhere. I loved it. I’ll watch it again, and more times after that.

OVERALL RATING: 3/4

Cinematography

Jeff Goldblum shinging bright like a diamond.

Jeff Goldblum shining bright like a diamond.

Nerdy filmmaker joke of the day: the dinosaurs aren’t the only ones drawn to the lights in Jurassic ParkDean Cundey is an amazing cinematographer when it comes to motivating light. Those turns of the camera, or slide-ins to perfect close-ups, couldn’t get any better. That one shot, where Sam Niell gets in the car then leaves after Tim bugs him is so simple yet so impressive.

While Cundey’s recent films are not up to par with his pre-2000s filmography, I appreciate the people who have variety in their cinematic careers. He even worked on Apollo 13Jurassic Park, and The Parent Trap in the same decade. As one of my favorite filmmakers, David Fincher, said, “Don’t be so pretentious that you think everything you make is ‘important.’ There’s room in this world for popcorn fiction and movies that are exactly the sum of their parts.” If nothing Cundey does in the future measures up to Jurassic Park, then fine, because that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still the guy who directed photography on Jurassic ParkThe Thing, and the Back to the Future trilogy.

Acting

Sam Neill is a loveable jerk and his partnering with a couple of kids is perfect because, well, at the start of the film he hates them. What better way for developing a character that can’t stand know-it-all kids then to throw them into some contained, jungle death trap together? Don’t those moments they watch giant dinosaurs attack tiny dinosaurs just tug at your heartstrings? The real bonding moment: finding out Tim’s dad didn’t build him a tree house either.

Work it, gurl.

Work it, gurl.

Jeff Goldblum’s the major source of comedic relief.  He’s the guy you want around when the prehistoric party gets a little too crazy. He knows how to break a leg and still partaaay, am I right? He’s loveable, he’s annoying, and he’s a great backseat driver.

Side note, let’s all take a moment of silence for Samuel L. Jackson.

K moving on…

Directing

I respect Spielberg for taking such insane concepts and making them incredibly believable. His job is selling the story and he always does. Another great Spielberg trademark is his lighting. Sure, that is all for the director of photography, but Spielberg works with different cinematographers (notably Kaminski), yet that light always streams through a room beautifully for any of his films. It illuminates people in a way that real life probably never does, which shows that no matter who is DP is, Spielberg should get a lot of credit for that as well. He also knows when there are some great kid actors lurking around. I don’t know what he’s putting in their candy but somehow… thespians! That man is the Willy Wonka for child actors. Did that make sense?

Writing

I’ll give it to Jurassic Park for a perfect blend of suspense and comedic timing, but apparently everything in Jurassic Park, while deadly, is also convenient enough for an escape. So don’t worry, you may get electrocuted at 10,000 volts and bleed out of your ears, but everything will be okay. The foreshadowing is so subtle and purposeful I could cry tears of joy, like Dr. Alan Grant’s buckling his seatbelt foreshadowing how the species later mutates like frogs. Still, remind me where major plants in the story went? No, I’m not talking about the plants that those “vegietarian” dinosaurs love eating, I mean that creepy embryo thing didn’t all go to waste now did it? Does this mean I need to see the other films? I mean I will, but I heard they’re not good so….

Score

Can we talk about John Williams? Look at what this man is musically responsible for: Star Wars, the Indiana Jones films, Jaws, Superman, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, E.T., Schindler’s List, War Horse, Harry Potter, Catch Me If You Can, and Home Alone.

How does someone have this much talent? Do you think he has his soundtracks on his iTunes and listens to them when he wants to pretend he’s Indiana Jones on a horse with Lincoln fighting sharks from Superman’s galaxy far, far away, that can’t find their way home from a theme park in Nazi Germany until a bunch of bank-fraud, DiCaprio-Clone burglars show up then everything turns into this civil war which leads to this world war and Tom Hanks shows up telling him, “You’re a wizard, Harry,” but he’s like, “no, I’m John Williams and you’re welcome.” Like I just did there, he knows what building suspense is like, except he does it with music so that’s a lot cooler. His score tells you a story in itself, also like I just did because do you not get the point I’m making? There’s never a dull moment, even when things calm down. He has five Academy awards. This guy is amazing.