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He Said, She Said Review Site


What She said:


In case you haven’t noticed, Gravity has kind of turned into a big deal.  The Alfonso Cuarón written, produced, and directed film is currently tops at the box office and is rocking a staggering 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  And I’m sure you’ve seen all of the advertising spots for the film, which if you’re like me, offered very little in the way of an explanation of the general storyline.  And our dear Sandy Bullock, who I love by the way, has been making the talk show rounds, looking fitter and more fabulous than ever.  I’m left wondering who does her hair because it’s so long, shiny, and lovely.  Anyway, The He and I certainly got caught up in the whirlwind of this film and decided last weekend to take some time out to watch it—in IMAX 3D.

Now, let’s get past the fact that I was generally grumpy to be spending $18.50 for a movie ticket at 11:50 in the morning.  Doesn’t IMAX come in a matinee?  I was amazed to walk into the theater and find the place packed.  I really had no idea that this movie would be such a draw.  I guess others, like us, were genuinely curious.  So, The He and I found pretty decent seats, all things considered, and settle in for the spectacle.  Part of the spectacle is, of course, the ridiculous glasses that they give us to wear.  It’s like the theater just wants us to look like idiots.  Gone are the subtle black framed eyewear, replaced with bright yellow, ‘50s era cat-eye 3-D faire.  I was embarrassed to put them on until I realized that everyone had to wear them.  Thank goodness.

So, now on to the movie.  And yes, there may be some spoilers here.  It turns out Gravity is about an American space exploration team whose mission to fix the Hubble is derailed when debris from a Russian satellite, which the Russians accidentally blew up themselves (geniuses), comes flying at them at super-sonic speed.  People die, and basically we’re just left with mission specialist Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney).  Stone goes into meltdown mode, and I certainly don’t blame her.  Kowalski, being the Clooney that he is, is cool as a cucumber.  He quickly hatches a plan to have the two of them jettison off to the International Space Station and eventually back to Earth safe and sound.  Of course, as we quickly learn in the film, nothing goes as planned, and soon it’s just Stone to fend for herself.  She continues her journey, facing certain death and much adversity in a quest to get back to the planet she came from, regardless of whether or not it has much to offer her.


So that’s it.  Very basic.  And it might actually feel basic.  The movie is about visual spender and emotional intensity.  We don’t know if Stone will make it back or not, and she certainly has plenty of close calls.  But we, the viewers are supposed to do more than just witness it, we’re supposed to feel it.  I firmly believe that the point of this film is to have the audience experience the situation.  Hence the heavy emphasis on 3D special effects and the wide distribution in IMAX.  And yes, you will experience a lot.  I mean, 3D tends to make me feel unwell in general, but for the first half hour of this film I was working hard to keep my breakfast down.  I did feel, at times, that I was floating out in space. 

It is this presentation that allows viewers to feel the intensity of the peril as well.  Cuarón does a lot of first person camera work where you’re put in Stone’s shoes.  If you have trouble connecting with the movie on this level, then I think you’ll end up finding it not as exciting or emotional as intended.  The film really aspires to create a connection with viewers, and if that doesn’t happen then it will fail.  I felt, for the most part, connected.  I did find myself questioning the logic at various points, and actually laughed at the circumstances from time to time.  I don’t think there was an analytical depth to the plot, and this hindered things a little for me.  But I did enjoy this different take to movie-making—a truly experiential film. 

As far as the performances of the lead actors, they were ok.  Sandy was definitely stronger than Clooney.  I think that when it comes to Clooney, Clooney is just Clooney.  He essentially plays himself—the jokester that everyone likes and who has his way with the ladies.  Bullock conveyed a definite fear and was very frazzled throughout.  I thought she had some odd dialogue material to work with, but she did a pretty good job.  Not sure her performance was really Oscar worthy or anything.

I do think there are other, much better space movies—off the top of my head I’d say Apollo 13, Moon, Sunshine.   And there are elements of Gravity that seem gravely overhyped.  It was a decent and different enough movie, but I wasn’t entirely impressed with the plot.

Thumbs mostly up.

What He said:


Gravity is about two astronauts – well technically one – who are forced to fight for their lives after debris from a Russian satellite hits their shuttle and leaves them stranded in space. Oxygen is running out, things are flying at them left and right, and they have no means of transportation. If they wish to survive, they need to act fast. That’s about it. No, really. I’m not trying to be funny or dismissive, but that is really all the movie is about. It’s a very simple story.

Simple doesn’t mean bad though and if you think about it in regards to this movie, it’s a terrifying premise. Imagine just floating in space knowing that your air is running out and there is little you can do about it. The Earth is sitting there right in front of you, but you are floating along in the darkness that is space with no transportation, no radio contact, not a thing really. The only other thing you have is an equally helpless person floating alongside of you. 

Well that’s not totally true. Astronaut Matt Kowalksi (George Clooney) is a veteran. He’s as comfortable in space as we are walking down the street. So, Mission Specialist Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) has at least one thing going for her. Ryan is as green as you can get. She is a specialist brought on the mission to help repair the Hubble Telescope. She only has six months of training under her belt and never really feels comfortable in this environment. She doesn’t enjoy being up there one bit and naturally panics when the shit hits the fan.  She needs Matt more than he needs her and she’s arguably a hindrance to him.


So while simple, I thought the premise sounded pretty damn scary. I can think of a lot of scary situations and a lot of equally scary ways to die, but this one is pretty unique. That and I thought the movie looked stunning visually.

Unfortunately, I felt that was all it had going for it. This is a great looking movie that is not very intense or dramatic, and is actually quite hammy at times. You ever see something that you know is supposed evoke a certain emotion – tension or fear in this sense – but just fails to deliver? That’s exactly how I felt about this movie. I didn’t want to feel that way, but I did. Before the trailer came out, this movie released three clips. I felt the tension then, but for some reason when I watched the movie it was just lacking. The same thing happened to me during Prometheus.

I usually like a good soundtrack, but I found the score in this movie distracting and forced.  It was practically screaming, “Here comes a scary part!” Instead of adding to the emotional experience, it took me right out of it.

I saw someone on the internet say this movie was little more than Sandra Bullock spinning and screaming “Ahh ahh” for an hour and a half, and I can’t really disagree with that. This movie had no substance at all and when it tried to, it was corny. Instead of feeling moved, I just thought it was corny. I don’t know if it was the dialogue, the performances, or a little bit of both, but I wasn’t moved the way the movie wanted me to be. It felt forced, awkward, and a little sappy at times. Not the good kind of sappy that makes me want to pump my fist and cheer either.

Aside from some really good – and I do mean really good – special effects, I found this movie to be rather boring. It was flat and relied too much on special effects. I think this movie is completely overrated, especially when you look around sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic and see just how much praise it’s getting. People are referring to it as if it’s one of the all-time greats and that is just absurd. It’s not even the best space-based movie I’ve ever seen. Apollo 13 is better than this. Moon is better than this too. Sunshine and most of the Alien movies are better than this as well. This movie is all hype.

*Minor spoiler* Oh and without giving too much away, the main character has so much good luck it's absurd. It's one miracle after another. I can't believe they put her in that many dangerous situations just to get out of each and every one of them time-after-time. It gets silly after a certain point, especially since this is supposed to be a more realistic movie. *End minor spoilers*

Rating: Thumbs down.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on October 7, 2013.