Gravity has been almost universally liked by critics, which means in the coming weeks the cool guy opinion will be that Gravity sucks. And there is ample support for that argument because this movie is punctuated by corny ass moment after corny ass moment. But Gravity does not suck. Gravity is dope. Gravity is about accepting white corniness. Gravity is about embracing the collective corniness of modern day Hollywood. You can’t pay to see a movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, in 2013, and leave complaining about it being corny. This is a movie named after a song by the patron saint of white corniness, and it is entertaining as fuck.
In short, the movie is about Sandy and GC having their chill space day pooped on by a barrage of Russian satellite shrapnel. Broadly, it’s about having your brain fucked up by the thought of floating aimlessly through space until you suffocate. Clooney and Bullock are the stars, but this movie is really about showcasing Alfonso Cuaron, the director famous for taking his time between introducing us to Gael Garcia Bernal in Y Tu Mama Tambien, making one of the two watchable Harry Potter movies and directing the critically acclaimed, but pretty meh dystopian thriller Children of Men. Your opinions on Cuaron’s previous films notwithstanding, dude knows how to move a camera. Most of the shooting for this film probably involved Bullock and Clooney hanging from harnesses in a studio, but it seems as though Cuaron—and the audience with him—is jet-packing around the final frontier with a fucking Go-Pro on his dome.
Initial reviews have pointed out Gravity as a film that deserves the biggest screen you can find—laptops need not apply. Olds overestimate how much movie watching the kids are doing on their phones, but I agree with them. This movie is worthy of a grand scale, a return to the time you actually had to leave home to experience cinema. I take the Ebert opinion on 3D movies, but I did venture out to real, terrifying America to see this shit in a mall on an 80-foot screen. It was worth it.
In the real world, if your shit gets fucked up in space, it’s game over.
If the movie were only action, it would have been near-perfect. It also would have been about 50 minutes long, which brings me to the least satisfying part of the film. My girl Sandy, looking great but not quite Blindside status, was given an unnecessary melancholy back story, intended to add weight to the recurring question or whether or not she'll make it. Clooney channeling John Wayne, gets a little tiresome as he continually talks to Bullock like he’s her grandpa, which, apparently, is how you calm a woman down when she’s stressed. The earthly human elements aren’t necessary because these people are fucking lost in space, drifting from careening satellite to disintegration space station. Nothing is scarier than that. Nothing can make that shit more intense.
Adding to the terror is the fact that Gravity is barely science fiction. The circumstances may be extreme, but this is not the future. This film does not take place far beyond the solar system. Gravity sheds light on the actual the janky ass space technology we actually use, the extremely unglamorous International Space Station we’ve seen on grainy live feeds. For my money, true modern space travel versus what sci-fi tells us it will/should be is what’s terrifying about this movie. In the real world, if your shit gets fucked up in space, it’s game over. You’re spinning away from the Earth indefinitely. You might as well pop off that helmet and let space suck your insides out your mouth hole. Now that's real.
The injection of expected Hollywood sentiment gives us a welcomed break from the fear of space and that’s the missing puzzle piece. I suspect Cuaron is actively trolling the American audience. If you can make a movie that looks incredible and moistens the palms of those watching, you can throw any degree of garbage dialogue at them and they’ll accept it. At no point is this more evident than when, near the climax, Cuaron and Clooney gag the shit out of us in a scene so convenient even the most basic moviegoers will shake their heads like, “Really? You’re gonna be that cornball?” Minutes later, though, Cuaron reveals the deception, chiding audiences for believing he’d get that lame. No, he says, I wouldn’t take the popcorn that far, but you would still have liked the movie if I had. That’s the point.
When you do a few things incredibly well, lesser efforts can be forgiven, even celebrated. Gravity is literally about gravity: things falling, floating or otherwise moving in random direction. It puts us in a place both beautiful and frightening. Life cannot exist in ultimate desolation without the fragile armor of technology. That’s what Gravity captures. That’s why Gravity is dope.
Four Pins Rating: 8/10 Constellations you can actually name