‘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.

‘The Heat’ Review

I’ll start by saying I wasn’t in the best of moods before seeing this but thankfully, this film in not what a lackluster trailer had anyone believing. Many still may not enjoy it but I think that as a comedy, the film did what it should because I felt better while watching it. I even laughed a few times.

OVERALL RATING: 3/4 

Cinematography

I don’t believe that comedies shouldn’t have an identifiable style. Usually, it’s the darker comedies, like In Bruges, that take the risk but I think it’s time for the genre to try a little harder. This is why I appreciate The Hangover films because even as mass-appealing comedies, they have a specific look. This is also where praise for a lot of Simon Pegg and British films comes in. The Heat doesn’t really light any cinematic sparks in this department though, which is especially disappointing since you may know the cinematographer, Robert D. Yeoman, for his work on Dogma and many fantastic Wes Anderson films. As a filmgoer, if you’re only looking for some inspiring lighting or memorable long takes, this isn’t the film for you.

Acting

Melissa McCarthy outshines Sandra Bullock, and everyone else in this film, but both women have great awareness with physical comedy. They swear as much as they like as well, which is a lot with McCarthy’s insults, and it’s unapologetically funny. As per usual, McCarthy’s husband cameos in the film as well. Another great appearance is from Nathan Corddry, for any fan of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and other recognizable television faces include Kaitlin Oslon from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Tony Hale from Arrested Development, and Andy Buckley from The Office.Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 8.17.28 PM

Directing 

Paul Feig, above all, is probably the reason this film does hit its comedic beats. His body of work proves his diversity with comedy (yes, not all comedy is the same and not everyone works well with each style), and he sets high standards for female-driven comedies, especially because of Bridesmaids. He seems to be the perfect director for McCarthy as well. She’s one of the funniest women around, but it seems that especially with Feig does her natural humor as the inappropriate character with heart please audiences the most.

Writing

The payoffs are predictable in Katie Dippold’s script, but at least the film keeps its pace. The problem with many comedies that extend over the 90 minute mark is that so many lose comedic steam midway through. When the energy gets lost in the script, the audience loses the laughter momentum as well. The Heat, playing off of its predictability, comes with a variety of  moments so ridiculous that it’s hard not to laugh, like McCartney’s “bad-cop” interrogation style or Bullock’s knife encounter. Not bad for a comedy that extends over 2 hours, especially since a sequel is now in the works.

"The Heat" New York Premiere - Outside ArrivalsThere is an issue with the generic lead characters. I wish they were something new to the buddy-cop genre rather than uptight FBI agent and reckless cop. The fact that they are female leads doesn’t excuse this lack of character development or make it refreshing. Merely dealing with gender doesn’t push any envelopes if the females are written like stereotypical male characters. This is the same issue Zero Dark Thirty had, because why are strong female characters basically written like a male, yet constantly proving themselves to men?