Hey folks, Harry here... This film doesn't hit theaters until November 21st, 2012... GRAVITY is the next brilliant work of Alfonso Cuaron. In the first paragraph, Stanley Boobrick, our intrepid spy, tells us that this was a very early and incomplete work in progress. In the second paragraph, he tels you that this is "Next Level Shit!" and by that, I think he means SHIT in the awesome mind blowingly cool manner, not as in something that should be flushed. In the third paragraph he tells us the story is profoundly simple, then begins to elaborate - if you want - read the first two paragraphs, it'll get you pumped, but if you're someone that wants to completely go in cold - and honestly - it's a Cuaron film - trust him. Now for the rest of you, I'm going to continue (spoiler free). In the fourth paragraph, Boobrick compares the experience of watching this to ENTER THE VOID - which is amazing. In his final paragraph where he talks about how cruel it was to see this film incomplete, going from pristine space shots that made you feel as though you were there - and then the 16-bit pre-vis style effects - but I would have killed to see this. As is - this is the film of the Fall that I'm very giddy to know is this good for just one of you. This is a very positive test screening review - and I absolutely do not believe it is a PLANT. Now - here ya go - if you want to know SOME of the movie, but doesn't give the big "what happens" of the movie. So read if you must, but right now, I'm dying to see this!
I just got out of a test screening of Alfonso Cuaron’s new film Gravity. It was a “work-in-progress” print, with only about half of the shots having fully completed special effects. There were lots of unrendered 3D cubes, pre-visualizations & wires holding up Sandra Bullock’s ass to make it float. It felt a little like being shown 2001 and then during the Journey to the Unknown an iTunes Visualizer pops up, & they say “You get the idea right?” Or like watching James Franco raise Andy Serkis from infancy when you first watch Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. I feel justified in saying I’ve seen Gravity, but I haven’t SEEN GRAVITY, if you know what I’m saying. But I’ve seen enough. Here’s my review of what I did see: Gravity is a fucking masterpiece.
This is not just next level shit, this is several levels ahead of next level shit, & quite possibly the highest level shit you could possibly make. This is like if Avatar had been released in 1927 a week after The Jazz Singer. People won’t know how to comprehend what they are seeing. In short, Gravity genuinely makes you feel like you have been to space. It really, really does. And guess what? It’s beautiful, and awe-inspiring, and profound (and a little scary too), everything you thought it would be since you first thought about going to space when you were a kid. The movie exploits dreams it knows every sentient being has had, using the best special effects I have personally ever seen. I honestly don’t know how you could enhance a cinematic experience more. I kept waiting for a cameo from the Tupac hologram.
The story is profoundly simple. Sandra Bullock’s space ship is destroyed by space debris & she has to figure out how to get back to Earth. It’s told in real time without feeling like a gimmick & it has all the ludicrously long shots we’ve been promised. The movie never feels like “Phonebooth in Space!”, because the ‘one-location in real time’ aspect is vital to the story. The second after your space shuttle is hit by space debris you better believe every second of the next hour and a half counts (we’ll all know this first hand once Richard Branson gets his shit together). Don’t worry, I won’t give away the one spoiler in the movie, i.e. Will she make it?, cause that’s the only question you ask yourself the entire fucking movie. Cauron does a masterful job of setting up the impossible stakes & giving you hope & hopelessness at the same time. You have hope because you don’t believe a Hollywood movie studio would let Sandra Bullock burn up reentering our atmosphere (they paid a lot of money for her).
But by the way the film is shot, you feel hopeless. It has some of the best uses of first person POV shots I’ve ever seen, making you feel like you too are hovering right over the Earth, so close yet so far away. Other than Enter the Void, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more physically embodied as an onscreen character. It’s not POV the whole time though, Cauron breaks it up & often utilizes his signature ‘roaming-cameraman-who-never-cuts’ technique, which is very effective when there’s no gravity & for the ‘race-against-the-clockiness’ of the story. However, some people might end up saying that Gravity ends up being too light on story & is just an expensive space roller coaster ride, ‘Space Mountain: The Movie’ if you will. But those people would be wrong, stupid & ungrateful. Gravity is an important & subtle character study wrapped up in the guise of the most technologically advanced film of the new millennium. Sandra Bullock’s character has no family down on Earth. No friends. Her job is up in space. She’s struggling to get back to survive, but in truth, she doesn’t have much to live for down on that planet, so why even go through the effort? To me the film is about apathy and isolation. It’s about people today not knowing why they should be excited about living but only knowing they don’t want to die. It’s about looking at your own insignificance in the universe (or on Earth, or at your job, or at your school, etc.) & becoming empowered by it instead of defeated. And most of all, it’s about seeing what it would be like to float through space like an astronaut (spoiler: it’s fun).
It was amazing to see an early cut of this film but it was cruel and unusual to flip back and forth between the pristinely realized space footage and the 16-bit pre-viz stuff. This cut still gets my ultra-rare 11 out of 10 rating though, & it can only go up after I see the 100% completed version. Congratulations Mr.Cuaron, you sir have changed the game.
If you use this review, please call me Stanley Boobrick