Oct 072013

Alfonso Cuarón is among the world’s finest, most versatile filmmakers, and someone who—knock on wood!—hasn’t yet directed a dud. Gravity is quite OK too, but in the second tier of his work.

Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. At cinemas throughout New England.

By Gerald Peary

Sandra Bullock as the Girl Gone Galactic in GRAVITY.

Sandra Bullock as the Girl Gone Galactic in GRAVITY.

Mexico’s Alfonso Cuarón is among the world’s finest, most versatile filmmakers, and someone who—knock on wood!—hasn’t yet directed a dud. Gravity is quite OK too, but in the second tier of his work, along with The Little Princess and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Cuaron’s two masterpieces are his erotic gem, Y Tu Mamá También, and Children of Men, his great adaptation of P.D. James’s equally excellent dystopian sci-fi novel.

But Gravity does have superb parts, like the completely stunning opening scene with his characters floating about a space station. It’s the most riveting sequence Out There since 2001: A Space Odyssey; and, in homage to Kubrick, Cuarón takes his time with long, long, poetic takes. The 3-D usage is completely organic and beautiful, the best since Wim Wenders for the dance performances in Pina.

More 3-D that I liked. The tongue-in-cheek moments when tools float through space and toward the audience, then are fisted at the last second by a character before, I guess, they crash into our noggins. Funny! It’s also an affectionate homage to the primitive (and primal) in-your-face scares of early 1950s three-dimension, The House of Wax and other delights.

And then there’s the very exciting scene, where things really speed up, when the characters bounce about avoiding debris from a collapsed Russian satellite. Neat!

But my problem is the very conventional story which, too soon, kicks in. Veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) stops being a sexist charmer with a barrage of goofy one-liners and flies away, perhaps dead and gone. He leaves poor Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a novice in space, to fend for herself. And he leaves her to reveal her unhappy, cloying backstory, the yuckiest part of the movie.

Have we been here before? In post-feminist Katherine Bigelow territory? With The Final Girl in dozens of horror films?

It’s definitely ingenious, the clever ways that Dr. Stone gets by, but jingoist too, the self-reliant American among Russian and Chinese space stations. Will she make it home safely? I’m not going to be a spoiler, but the incredible box office for Gravity, and its extraordinary approval rating from audiences, might clue you how it all ends.

Gerald Peary is a professor at Suffolk University, Boston, curator of the Boston University Cinematheque, and the general editor of the “Conversations with Filmmakers” series from the University Press of Mississippi. A critic for the late Boston Phoenix, he is the author of 9 books on cinema, writer-director of the documentary For the Love of Movies: the Story of American Film Criticism, and a featured actor in the 2013 independent narrative Computer Chess.


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  82 Responses to “Fuse Film Review: Artfully Defying “Gravity””

Comments (82)
  1. Impossible to believe you could give “Gravity” a 2.5 star review.
    Ridiculous considering the beauty of this film. You really should see
    it a second time as I did. I found it even more compelling the second time.

    • I’m sure I’d find it beautiful again. But I can’t think I would be moved by the script, which seems too cutesy with George Clooney’s banter, other places as stiff as the screenplay for Star Wars, but more maudlin with Sandra Bullock’s family sufferings.

      • I find the use of cliché masterfully restrained and realistic. Life gets cinematic, especially in extreme moments like those that Rayn Stone finds herself in.

  2. You could’ve written this review without mentioning that Clooney died, wow.

    • Varb, YOU said he died! YOU gave it away! I said, “Perhaps dead and gone.” I left it totally open, a tease.

      • Personally, I don’t understand the obsession with being surprised. If the movie is any good, it should be able to inspire suspense even if one knows some of the results. The obvious example: The good guys win at the end. Does knowing this ever really “spoil” the movie?

        If the enjoyment of a film is dependant on surprise, then it isn’t a good one, IMHO.

    • Actually he didn’t. But you just did.

      He used the phrase “perhaps dead and gone,” leaving Clooney’s fate unknown.

    • Welp – you probably could have called him out for his spoiler without mentioning the freaking spoiler.

      I didn’t read the review – but I unfortunately read the comments, and your comment just spoiled a huge part of the movie.

    • Ugh. I haven’t seen the movie, but you ruined a big part of it for me, I’m sure, in the dumbest possible way, Varb. You’re like the person that yells at someone for getting angry or accuses someone of being sexist because they are male.

  3. I guess being a professor didn’t help you get a clue. This isn’t just an “okay” movie, this is an amazing piece of work. You literally explained none of your problems with this movie, instead you’ve chosen to piece together random works to try to make a point. “Have we been here before? In post-feminist Katherine Bigelow territory? With The Final Girl in dozens of horror films?” What the heck does that even mean?

    • KED: I also think parts of the movie are amazing but then there’s the completely predictable. conventional plot once Clooney floats off, the fragile woman finding herself and her guts and confidence–Katherine Bigelow in Blue Steel and Zero Dark Thirty. The Final Girl is something noted by a film professor named Carol J Clover, that so many horror movies end with all the characters eliminated except The Final Girl, who then battles whatever creature is threatening everyone. Dr. Stone is yet one more Final Girl.
      Anyway, KED, check out Cuaron’s Children of Men, which I contend is a really perfect film.

      • I agree with your observation of the tired plot that we’ve all seen, on a fundamental level, countless times. My problems don’t just lie in this fundamental plane, but also in this particular iteration of it. Who is the evil, bad, contemptible thing that Ryan Stone is fighting? This is a science-fiction, feminist, version of the Myth of Sisyphus. The yucky part of the movie, as you’ve named it, is the only part that has any substance. Because, what is she fighting for really? She is undoubtedly fighting for her life, but what does that consist of? Her life is absent of love. It is absent of compassion. She is as disconnected from humanity as she is from the Earth. And perhaps, that is the joy of this movie. When she finally reconnects with the Earth, she has also reconnected with what makes life worth living. In that sense, her scary and frightening journey full of pain and loss is one we all must go through if we are to find true peace in this world.

        And perhaps this is something that you didn’t connect to and perhaps this is why you see it as nothing more than an “OK” film.

        • Great reply, conveniently not replied to by the reviewer.

          • Sorry, I didn’t “conveniently” skip over it. It simply slipped through the cracks as I went below answering other comments. Actually, I think Brian’s comment is a “great reply” also, Silly Goose. Although I saw the movie totally differently. I respect Brian’s thoughtful commentary, and I’m always happy when people find meaning in cinema, not just escapism.

      • I’m with you- seems like there aren’t many of us. The visual experience is stunning, but it is not a great film. Food for thought: what if it were a silent film? Every single member of every audience could have invented better, more personal backstories to the characters during the 90 minute thrill-ride. Maybe then we would have cared how it ended.

        • Seriously. Over rated, with a terrible script and unlikable, annoying characters. The incompetance of Bullock combined with the self righteosness of Clooney (“do you find me attractive?” Really? That’s the last thing you’re going to say?) made for a hugely disappointing film.

    • I think as a critic you have to rate every movie like it is the first one you ever saw.. like it is the first story, the first special effects and the first action.. let me say it so.. every movie has its story and it doesnt matter if a movies story is almost equal to another movie.. the emotional story Ryan tells is a story everyone would tell in such a situation.. why is it such a big deal that hers sad story is a part of the movie.. if I was her I would tell that story too.. i would actually feel better if somebody would listen to me.. you always have to think logic.. think what would really hapen and not what the movie industry would like to see.. like in the scene “sorry for the spoiler” where Ryan shouts out these loud AUUUUUU s like a dog and i knew when i saw that scene that some people would laugh at it because it sounds a little bit funny.. it sounds funny, but it is something, something funny that real people would do.. every movie is concentrated about the screenplay.. everything should look good.. nothing disgracefull.. and thats where it lacks on reality actually.. but Gravity has reality and thats the most important thing.. when movies need good actors to play their role which you can believe, than the whole movie should be like that too.

      • That’s a noble idea, to review every film like it’s the first you saw, but also absurd. I know I’ve seen thousands of films. I can still be amazed, as I am for the truly original parts of Gravity, like the glorious opening ten minutes. I can still be bored, when what I see on screen is so familiar and predictable, like the last half hour of Gravity.
        As for Ryan’s “sad story,” I didn’t believe a word of it. It obviously was concocted, and badly, and cloyingly, by the screenwriters.

        • maybe you are right with that last 30 minutes, but isnt it like that that although the last 30 minutes where predictable, it still is a story what would have been succesfull if it would be the first story of that kind.. and i dont think you really mean that you didnt believe any of the “sad story” ..I think and understand that you have gone tru lot of movies with such kind of story and that for you it gets boring, but I dont think the screenwriters made a bad job.. I just think you couldnt get some better story out of it.. I mean you have for the end of that movie just 2 options.. she survives, or she dies.. and both options can be predictable till the last minute.. it is an awesome movie with the best cgi i have seen so far.. the cinematography is breathtaking like the scenes itself and the acting was living.. the story may be known, but lets act like there is no other story like that because the story is awesome.. people just used to these kind of stories and it is it.. but everybody has its own critic ofc even if it is hard for me to believe that such a movie can get bad reviews

  4. I liked GRAVITY a lot however there were a lot of problems with the story IMHO. I, for one, appreciate the author’s take and his opinion. I also agree with some of his points. But I still liked the movie and will probably see it again.

  5. Firstly, for a professor, you do not write very well. Secondly, how is a director “among the world’s finest, most versatile filmmakers” when you only consider two of his movies to be particularly good? I do not feel the need to contest your points about GRAVITY, because you do not really make any. You strike me as a journalist who knows little about cinema, which is strange, because your resume says otherwise. And yet you gave THE HEAT, a formulaic and only intermittently funny and largely forgettable gross-out buddy comedy, a better review than you gave GRAVITY, the success of which on financial and critical counts ensures that its advances are going to change how Hollywood films are made forever.

    • I never reviewed Heat! I never even saw Heat! It sounds execrable. Very few filmmakers make even one masterpiece, and Cuaron has two of them, and they are astonishingly different. And two of his other films are solidly good ones, and half of Gravity is also fine.
      That’s a terrific record. He is among the word’s finest and most versatile filmmakers, even with the so-so Sandra Bullock story in Gravity.

  6. This review is spot on. Technically amazing film. Dull and ultimately boring story. This film will not pass the test of time especially once the technology becomes standard which it will.

    • Thanks, John H.

    • Yes it is one of those movies that is a technical masterpiece and I believe that sometimes this fact alone is a valid reason for giving a movie a good rating. Some movies Wow you with a great story and some Wow you with great effects. They can both be called good movies.

  7. I believe your review is spot-on and honest. I left the theater feeling impressed by the special effects, but extremely hollowed by the lack of deep dialogue/story line that I was, maybe mistakenly, expecting.

    • Thanks, Patricia.

      • Yes. I agree with Patricia, John H. and Mr. Gerald Peary – - (and I know that’s a risk to admit, as anybody who has anything even remotely negative to say about this movie is inundated with insults and anger).

        I felt extremely underwhelmed by this film. I wanted so much to be moved by these characters, and it never happened. Dare I say, there were times were I was a bit [flinch] annoyed??, and turned off by the heavy-handed symbolism. I felt zero connection to the tragedy suffered by Bullock’s character back on Earth – - in fact, it felt forced. I remember thinking: “There’s no way they would have let this person go up in space”. Sadly, it all felt a bit silly by the end.

        Visually wonderful.
        Sparse on the narrative.

        (Also….on a small insignificant note: can anyone tell me why Bullock’s suit had the name “Demidov”?
        Was that a spare suit left in one of the capsules?)

    • Not sure why a movie’s dialogue needs to be “deep” for a movie to be given ample praise for what it accomplishes. You want deep, watch Orwell’s 1984.

      This movie is a thriller, plain and simple… much in the same vain as Apollo 13 was a thriller. Now.. was that movie “deep”. No. It wasn’t. But certainly one of the best thriller’s Hollywood has produced.

      This movie accomplishes a great many things. It showcases space in way we have never seen before which, by itself, is worth the price of admission.

      Apollo 13 gave a glimpse into this kind of effect but this movie takes the ball and runs with it. Not just from the sense of weightlessness, but also how things react in space and how the world would look and sound from way up there as we glide through space. Makes me want to learn how it was done as it was done so seamlessly. Without a doubt, some of the best visuals I’ve ever seen. Its a significant achievement in movie making.

      As for suspense? Is this of the good or bad variety as is always the question for a movie of this type. Did it work? Undoubtedly the answer is yes. It had me riveted when the characters were faced with the challenges they needed to overcome.

      The silent moments of solo dialogue and inner thoughts were reminiscent of Tom Hanks in Castaway. Particularly what I think is one of the film’s key scenes where Bullock is aboard the Chinese station, contemplating her situation, her life, and what that means for her next move (I’m being vague so as not to divulge any spoilers). Its was a good scene.

      But… for those who call the dialogue weak and refer to as a criticism of the film.. I think that unfair. To me, it seemed that to go further down the “deep” dialogue road in this case would overshadow the journey. It simply wasn’t necessary. This is an example of less is more.

      How much more do we really need to know about Bullock’s character other than what we were told? The simple issue of life or death, when faced with what her character was faced with, is weighty enough when floating in the void of space. The fact we (the audience) are never taken out of space (with shots of Ed Harris running around in mission control for example) is why it works. To do so and add “deep” dialogue would only serve to diminish this. Her being totally and utterly alone and cutoff is what makes the issue of life and death seem real.

      I felt the less is more approach to the dialogue worked perfectly. When the end of the movie comes, I believe I can understand why the Cuaron chose to entitle the move “Gravity” which to me, is that deeper layer you might be calling for.

      For me, the closing scene gives a significance to the title on a literal and figurative level. I would love to be more specific on what I mean by this, but again, want to remain vague for those who haven’t seen this film yet. But to those who see it, pay attention to the final scene and then consider what you’ve seen over the last hour and half and then think of the title.

      This is clearly one of the years best.

      • I didn’t ask for more dialogue or “deep” dialogue, only more credible dialogue than the weepy story so obviously invented by the screenwriters and put into Sandra Bullock’s mouth.

        • I was actually referring to Patricia’s reply that suggested the story lacked deep dialogue which I didn’t think was a liability.

          But I had no real issue with dialogue. I thought it was perfectly credible and serviced the story fine without overshadowing the point. This movie, I felt, was a cross between mainstream thriller with an artist’s touch.

  8. So you thought Canyons with Lindsey Lohan was a better movie than Gravity ? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry ….So how does one become critic exactly ? Just wake up one day and think to yourself “i’ll share my ridiculous opinion of movies with the world” ? You sir are the troll of movie critics.

    • Chill out dude! I’d say Professor Peary is doing something right to inspire such a passionate response. Don’t take it personally, it’s just a movie!

    • Dennis, you kind of caught me on that one. The problem of Rotten Tomatoes is that there is no way to express a mixed review, with the “Fresh” and “Rotten” choices. So on the day you put up the review, you make an arbitrary choice. I probably went with “Fresh” for The Canyons because I felt it was too much maligned, and I went with a “Rotten” for Gravity because I’m feeling it’s really overrated. But this “troll” must confess that Gravity is a better work than The Canyons.

  9. Jingoistic ? The Russians and the Chinese don’t lose any astronauts. The Americans lose all bar one. Mission Control for the Chinese & the Russians seems to be far more competent.

    • Yes, jingoistic. The film alludes to Russian and Chinese astronauts but all we see are several stalwart white Americans. The third member of their crew, seemingly an Hispanic guy, doesn’t even get a closeup until the closeup of his death mask.

      • “Hispanic”? The character’s surname is Shariff — a traditional Arab name. And he spoke with a Middle Eastern/West Asian accent.

        Noting these qualities doesn’t require any detective work, but merely to observe.

        One wonders what far-subtler nuances you might have missed.

        Curious about your negative rating, I’ve investigated and found primarily contrarian sentiment and some inaccuracies.

        • FWIW Shariff was Indian. The giveaway was that he was humming the very popular Hindi song “Mera juta hai Japani.”

          BTW, excellent review, Gerald. Felt the same after watching the film and agree with every single word of your piece.

          • Thanks for filling me in on Shariff. Forgive me for misinterpreting who he is, but we barely saw him at all, as all closeups were on Clooney and Bullock, American Movie Stars in Space.

  10. I think a lot of people are missing the symbolism and allegory found in this film. Stone is a character who is already dead when this film starts, or at least not living. Through this terrifying disaster in space she is reborn. She finds the will to live.

    There is a moment when she first reaches the Russian spacecraft and is suspended in midair with coils flowing around her as if she were a baby in the womb. She then has a moment where she is howling like a dog; I took this to be the crying and howling of a baby frightened and confused at what is happening around them. She then plummets from the heavens and lands on Earth where she takes her first steps as a woman reborn and ready to actually live.

    You can let the events in your past paralyze you, make you give up, or you can decide to reignite that passion for life and go on. Whenever a person loses someone close a piece of them dies, how you find the will to go on is a struggle we can all relate to. This story was about that moment of rebirth.

    • I didn’t feel what you saw came genuinely out of character but it was imposed by the screenwriters. But I’m glad that the movie meant so much to you. I would not want to take that away!

    • 100% what I thought as well. I didn’t want to say anything specific in my posting because I was concerned about spoilers but the point you make about already being dead (work is all that she has left) and not living her life is spot on.

      I IMMEDIATELY saw the symbolism of her floating with the umbilicals around her and gestured to my wife “just like a baby in the womb”. She saw it too. That was NOT by accident.

      And yes… her first steps… like a newborn calf trying to stand for the first time.. That also was not by accident.


      • “I think a lot of people are missing the symbolism and allegory found in this film” Please tell me your joking. How could anyone miss it when the filmmakers are practically shoving it down the audience’s throat. I was half expecting “FETUS” to appear with an arrow pointing at Bullock while she’s (napping for some reason) inside the airlock. Not only was it so tastelesly obvious but why the hell is she so relaxed when she knows she has only a few minutes to get off the ISS? If you’re going to weave in symbolism at least make it plausible that’s all I ask.

  11. Clooney flies away? The story depicts that his character’s jet pack lost all power and he floats helplessly into space. Perhaps you should brush up on physics, particularly Newton’s laws, to understand that he could not return to save Stone. I’m not defending the film, but if you’re going to lay down a criticism, back it up with fact. Something tells me this “critic” wants to be the lone dissenter to garner attention for his work. Good luck with that.

    • “Flies away” was my intentionally vague journalese trying not to have a spoiler, and give away the plot for those who haven’t seen it. Exact science would have spilled the beans.

  12. I found this to be a dull and boring film. Do read carefully, this is not a sci fi film, the plot simply takes place in outer space. I must be the only one, but I found the 3D to be highly annoying. Maybe I got bad glasses or have a brain tumor, but it didn’t work for me.

    • I hope it was bad glasses rather than the latter. A movie that takes place in outer space and is speculative and set in the future is science-fiction. It might be “dull and boring” sci-fi, but the genre can’t be denied.

  13. I might be an odd one on this; but I like the movie because it captures a story that very few of us can conceive of, and that is what is space like. It doesn’t add lasers and far off space travel…..its a movie about where we are right now and what the obstacles are. Which so rarely gets told in an honest manner like this movie. Sure there are lots of great additives in this movie: such as gmazca’s mentioning the symbolism and allegory, which do make a movie great, but those same themes can be done in a movie about people on a life-boat trying to survive a plane crash. Maybe it is because I am a person of scenarios and I like how this movie concentrates on one part of someone’s life. It doesnt have flashbacks, its not done over 20 years of someone’s life. It is about someone who spent 4 hours in space and what happened in that time. And that is what hollywood has not visualized for their audience….the vastness, emptiness, struggle that is space. And now when people think of space, after seeing this movie, they will understand a little bit more of what really does happen 100 miles above our heads.

    • I think you have captured exactly what is unique and beautiful about Gravity. The best of Gravity. My review doesn’t disagree with you at all.

  14. How dare you have a well thought out opinion that doesn’t jive with everyone else!

  15. You say your not going to ruin the end and then you do just that by inference. How bloody LAME!!!!!!

    • Unless you are awfully dumb, Ray, watching the movie you know exactly how it will end. My wretched inference doesn’t make any difference.

      • Not if you expect the unexpected. Just like the very well done George Clooney scene. You remind me of a friend who is always negative and jaded about everything. Also, unless you are awfully dumb, Gerald, insulting the reader who is disappointed by your review is a great way to lose said person.

  16. My wife and I just saw this movie and were depressed by how bad it was. Horrible backstory, Bullock was a whiny, annoying character right to the end, unbelievable as an astronaut (she was supposed to be … some sort of medical doctor? WTF was she doing repairing hardware in space?). All the physics moments were terrible and therefore unbelievable. Thanks for being the only sane review published on tomatoes. So far we know of 3 people in our circle who have seen it and all 3 disliked it. It fit my rule of rotten tomatoes – beware of movies rated either too high or too low because critics are politicians mostly, trying to send messages they approve of rather than (for example) trying to protect the audience from movies that insult your intelligence.

    • I agree with you, Steve!!
      I wanted so much to enjoy this movie – - beyond its technical and visual achievements, which it did accomplish.
      I felt such excitement at the beginning of the movie, like “Oh boy, am I in for a treat”… I anticipated a moving, wonderful, human story.
      Sadly…it never came.

      I felt Bullock’s character was whiny and clumsy, it almost veered too dangerously close to “uh-oh, here’s the annoying girl who freaks out in space” while all her other male colleagues are calm, collected, or participating in self-induced-Joy-tethered-Rides in weightlessness. I clearly remember thinking: “There’s no way they would have let this person go up there”. Bullock’s tragic backstory felt forced and false. I felt the scene that involves dog-barking was saccharine and was supposed to make me endeared to her character and think of the tragedy in her past- – just the opposite. I felt a wee bit of contempt for the blatant manipulation that simply did not work. And, what’s worse, by the movie’s end, I was no longer invested in her character.

      I fear this movie is terribly overrated and woe be unto those that say so.

      • Nice critical writing, Susan, your paragraph about why you didn’t connect with Bullock. Obviously, I agree with you.

  17. Excellent and honest review. I left the theater wishing they had invested half as much effort into developing the human characters as they did researching how fluid and flames behave in space.

  18. Narrative elements in movies are paramount to me. So Mr. Peary’s sensible review of Gravity – most mindful of the story elements in the movie and unfazed like so many others by the high-tech involved – motivated me to subscribe to The Arts Fuse (the powers that be should be made aware of this). Don’t let me down later, though!

    • I didn’t say you were dumb, Ray. I said “unless you are dumb,” you will figure out the ending watching the movie. I assume, Ray, that you are smart and sophisticated, and would figure it all out quickly–thus my inferences won’t matter. So I certainly didn’t mean to insult you. OK?

    • Dear rship 19. Thanks, pal. That is the ultimate compliment, your subscribing to The Arts Fuse. I think you will find a pretty wonderful web arts magazine with lots of smart, educated writers who, best, think independently.
      Other subscribers? It’s FREE.

  19. I went on rottentomatoes because it thought it might be the quickest way to find a negative review, and clicked on yours. Maybe I was searching for insight as to why I didn’t enjoy the movie very much. Clooney did nothing for me.

    There was one scene in particular where I thought laws of motion were laughably violated. This was where somebody maybe flies away. Admittedly my only credentials regarding physics are several decades of diligently watching movies/TV set in space.

    Around halfway through I mostly stopped caring about what happened to Bullock’s character — because I realized how predictable her fate was — so it’s no surprise I was starting to look at my watch. Regarding the “in-your-face” I might view that as trying to keep the audience awake by making them suddenly blink or flinch a little. For how many more years may this be excused as homage? “Paging Special Effects: ‘Can we possibly insert an extra scene with things flying at several miles per second right at the viewer’s nose?’ I fear we’re about to lose the audience.”

    I never thought it was especially gingoistic. My memory may not be accurate, but didn’t we see Americans die and not Russians or Chinese? And I’m someone who believes space exploration should be left to privately-funded efforts.

    • We see Americans die valiantly and, though other nations are talked about, we don’t see any Russians or Chinese. Only Americans.Jingoistic!

  20. Real film criticism! Pretty good stuff, keep on your toes though. Intemperate sentimentalists give no quarter.

  21. I have to agree with most of this review. Some of the dialogue was inane and much of the drama felt forced but to me the other 90% of the movie make it more than worthwhile. The best scenes are with Bullock by herself not speaking.

  22. Whatever your reasons maybe for giving this movie a bad rating, this is a movie that has achieved an absolute feat in visual mastery. No one should care about what the story or script is of this movie. This movie is about giving the audience a spectacle that cannot be achieved in real life .. and it does it brilliantly well. Not every movie needs to have a script like clock work. Keep your mind open my friend and appreciate the obvious beauty.

    • I agree on the visual mastery, but why shouldn’t we care about the story or script? Can’t we have both, like with 2001: A Space Odssey?

  23. The only spectacle that happens in the first 10 minutes of the movie. After that it gets boring fast. People are acting like they never seen a movie about space before.

  24. I went to see Gravity hearing all the great reviews…But, I was skeptical. The coming attractions looked almost cheesy to me… I thought the visual aspect in some cases was very impressive but in others …the CGI looked like CGI…it didn’t look real to me. My brief review would be …Too much B not enough C. After a while Bullocks, whining, wheezing and wanting got old…The only time I ever cared about Bullock’s character was immediately after the story of her four year old…That feeling left quickly though…I know I’m in the minority…I thought it was good but not great. I will go see it again to absorb what I may have missed…Maybe in 3D.

    • It SHOULD be seen in 3-D But did you believe for a second that story of the four-year-old?
      It won’t get more convincing on a second viewing.

  25. This was one of the things that turned me off: For a woman with that kind of personal circumstances, showing mental instability, to pass the psychological NASA tests and get sent into space was something I could not swallow. At the very least I excpect astronauts not to attempt suicide when they face a difficult situation in space.

  26. I WANTED to enjoy Gravity so much. So many of its themes resonate with me, especially the sense of utter isolation (reminiscent of another film Moon.) Visually the movie was beautiful (though not on the same level as Life of Pi, to be honest). What spoiled this experience for me was George Clooney playing George Clooney. Every time he showed up on the screen or delivered one of his ham-and-cheese punchlines just reminded me that I was watching a Hollywood movie starring a Hollywood actor. This film could have been SO MUCH BETTER. I wish I truly could have been immersed in the experience, suspension of disbelief an’ all that. But some fool made the decision to cast him in the movie – probably CLOONEY, given that he was one of the producers.

  27. This is the best review I have read of Alfonso Cuaron’s impressive movie. The camera work and editing alone are evidence of Cuaron’s imaginative genius. I have never seen a terrifying situation portrayed visually with the graceful, fluid artistry of some of the long takes he gives us here, and I think the film will be admired for a long, long time to come for these qualities.

    That being said, Mr. Peary’s criticism of the plot rings true with me. I was disappointed by several things which undercut my ability to stay interested in the story. Sometimes the piling on of complication after complication to build suspense just seems to be too much, and I start losing the ability to believe what’s happening. Questions start occurring to me which diminish the moviegoing experience. Questions like: Are the Hubble Telescope, the International Space Station, and the Chinese Space Station really all that close together up there? I don’t know, but it seems a bit unlikely to me. The whole area seems somewhat more crowded than I imagine it is. Maybe I’m wrong, but thinking about that didn’t help me enjoy the plot. And when so many things go wrong, wrong, wrong, but then when they have to, go right, right, right, it gets to feeling contrived to me, much more Hollywood influenced than I expected out of Cuaron, whose Children of Men is one of my favorite movies, more suspenseful, more thought provoking, and just more real than this one.

    Ah well, a final thought: I like this movie better when I imagine that Ryan dreamed the whole ending, not just part of it.

  28. Great review. I went to see Gravity thinking that I was going to see a scifi movie. I was wrong. This is indeed a thriller. The problem with Gravity is the lack of character development. I never cared about Ryan. I actually felt pretty frustrated. The whole “My daughter is dead, no one cares about me” felt like it was rushed and pushed down my throat. Also, I thought: “How the hell did NASA sent such an incompetent person up there. Makes no sense.”

    However the movie is beautiful, the CGI is beautiful. The movie, from a technical point of view, pays a great attention to details.

    • I notice a few mentioning Ryan’s incompetence as an astronaut.
      In fact one ridiculous critic based most of her review on this point.
      I think it’s a stupid “fact” to argue over. The original crew contained several astronauts,
      I am sure all were in charge of different duties. Ryan was a scientist sent up
      to work on one particular project. Had the disaster not happened, I doubt
      Ryan would have been in charge of getting the shuttle back to earth safely.
      Sometimes suspension of judgement makes for a more enjoyable

  29. My gosh, are Americans so dimwitted that they are entertained by this movie? They should have gotten a little advice from NASA, before making this heavily flawed film.

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