Gravity (2013)

★★★

Gravity reminds me of a cheese sandwich – we all love abit of cheese, but it’s still disappointing when that’s the only filling in a sandwich. And that seems to be all that threads the plot together – cheesy moment after cheesy moment, spliced between the desperation of the constant fight for survival. Desperation is the bread, cheese is the filler. Yum.

Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a newbie on her first space shuttle mission, accompanied by veteran Matt Kowalsky (Clooney). Inevitably, disaster strikes when their shuttle is destroyed, leaving Ryan & Matt stranded in the abyss. When the two become separated, we follow Ryan on her intense journey to make it back to Earth alive.

Undoubtedly, the cinematography is wonderful and the 3D effects are intense and very impressive – I actually flinched from hurtling space debris. The gravity-deprived setting of space provides a great stage for use of 3D – with all objects floating around, there is ample opportunity to manipulate depth, and I was satisfied that Gravity did so without over-doing it for wow-factor.

Unfortunately, the screenplay itself is one-dimensional in comparison with the rich visual spectacle. The plot quickly becomes predictable– get to another space station, find that something is disastrously wrong with the equipment, get to another space station – rinse and repeat. What really weakens the story is the dialogue –herein lies the cheese. I found it hard to take the film seriously when the characters seemed so flat. Kowalsky provided a little light comedy – but in all honesty, he doesn’t stick around for too long. I couldn’t shake the notion that Kowalsky was a Buzz Lightyear type (before he accepts that he is a toy and not a real space hero), so flat was his character. Despite an emotional backstory, Ryan’s character is equally flat. Understandably, character exploration when limited solely to the setting of space is an incredibly difficult feat, but I feel like minimal attempt had been made to enhance these characters through any means other than visually.That said, Bullock and Clooney did great with the material they were given. Bullock in particular is in a role unlike any other that I have seen her in and played it well. With better dialogue, I think this character could have been far more memorable.

The long and short of it is: this film is visually stunning, the general plot was somewhat repetitive but with a better script could have been a strong tale, hence there is a general conflict with the depth and dimension of the visuals and the flatness of the characters and story. Regrettably, I think that the focus was on creating a fantastic spectacle – abit like if you had handed the reins to a kid and they had picked the most basic storyline, scrawled some simple dialogue on a napkin and then got to play with amazing 3D effects.In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure I would have liked the film at all if I watched it in 2D. Without the 3D, I would have given the film 2 and a half stars or less.

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