18 November 2013

Falling With Style

Gravity begins with three astronauts floating about in space like a few of lumps of turd as they attempt to fix the Hubble Telescope. Thirteen minutes later there's only two astronauts left, the telescope is gone, shrapnel is flying around destroying everything in its path and we're still waiting for somebody to cut to the second fucking shot. From this point on we're pretty much left with just George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as they bob about in space and try to figure out how to get back down to Earth without their rocket. Not only that but Bullock's oxygen supply is dangerously low and the shrapnel is looping right back towards them. Will Robinson's problem really was a piece of piss compared to these two who are not so much lost as they are well and truly fucked in space.

As far as the story goes, that's pretty much all there is to it. In fact it seems ironic that for a film as technically brilliant as this, everything about it kind of smacks of simplicity. Gravity presents itself as one of the more intellectual sci-fi films out there with posters and trailers hinting more towards Tarkovsky and Kubrick than Lucas and Spielberg. However there are a lot of big themes explored in 2001: Space Odyssey and even Solaris has a shit load more ideas than it does story. In fact if you want a heads up about Solaris then I really suggest that you go for the remake instead which is fairly faithful in terms of  concept but thankfully has a running time that feels about four days fucking shorter. Compared to these two monoliths of the genre, Gravity really only has the one main theme running through it and that is the idea of rebirth.

To infinity and beyond!
The characters themselves are also fairly simply drawn with Bullock playing a timid rookie with a tragic backstory and Clooney playing himself as a kind of live action version of Buzz Lightyear. In regards to Clooney being Clooney- well, that's fine because he does it well and he seems like he'd be a good guy to hang out with. Woody Allen only ever plays himself and nobody ever complains about that and he's even at a point where if he doesn't appear on screen, he just casts somebody else as his-fucking-self instead. Clooney's calming charm also works really well against Bullock's slightly more jittery newcomer who seems about as comfortable in outer-space as a nun might during an explosion at a rubber-cock factory. As simple as the characters are however both actors are absolutely phenomenal with Bullock actually delivering the performance of her career. I know it might seem hard to believe but she really is better in this existential space thriller then she was in such modern classics as The Lake House, The Proposal and Speed 2: Cruise Control. Urgh... For a great actress, she hasn't half done a lot of shit in her time.

The rebirth elements come in as Bullock attempts to not only get home but also get over her crappy-as-crap past. After the initial disaster takes place she finds herself floating in a small pod where she strips off her suit and ends up curled into the foetal position. This is one of the many nods towards the main theme with another coming near the end in which a character has to metaphorically crawl out of a primordial soup akin to that first cheeky bastard of a fish that thought it could walk. It's also fun to notice that when Bullock strips off in the pod, the scene plays out like an homage to the opening of Barbarella but where you're expected be thinking rather than wanking. Although having said that, Bullock does look amazingly great for a woman who is almost fifty and well over half way to probably being dead. People keep saying that this is the first film to actually justify being seen in 3D and from the moment she started to strip off it became blatantly obvious as to why that might be.

Anyway, so as well as Barbarella, the film also contains references to Wall-E, Star Wars and even Jaws. In fact director Alfonso Cuaron is even on record as saying that the structure of the film was inspired by Spielberg’s Duel which was about a demented Lorry driver that couldn't help but act the twat. It may look like a classy type of film but the reality is that Gravity couldn't be more of a popcorn-munching slab of trash if it wanted to be. As thrill-rides go, this really is the cinematic equivalent of an adrenaline shot to the cock. From the moment things go proper titty-slapping wrong, the pace barely relents as at every possible opportunity everything goes from bad to completely fucking worse. You know the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark in which Indiana Jones escapes one trap only to jump right it another dick rash of a problem? Well Gravity is like that kind of bullshittery but with the added challenge of there being no gravity or stability and only a glass helmet to stop Bullock's arse hole being sucked through one of her eye sockets.

Suspense as Bullock remembers where she stored the love eggs.
On the surface this really does look like a Kubrick film with the most painfully precise camera movements and even a story that's blatantly reminiscent of that bit in 2001 where Hal became a big red knobhead, however below that and despite the posters, it really is just a Spielberg-ian roller-coaster in which a couple of big ideas are twinned with action that's so gripping that it could shatter a pensioners wrinkled old fingering fingers. In fact there's only really one bit where everything kind of grinds to a halt in a scene that may possibly divide audiences into those who like it and those who didn't. Without spoiling anything, it's the odd bit nearish to the end when Bullock is visited by a kind of guardian who provides her with an answer to one of her biggest noodle-scratchers. Personally I thought this scene was excellent but I can see why people might disagree with it... Firstly it is a little out of the blue and secondly we can't all be right. This bit also kind of hints towards the other smaller theme of the film which is about finding spirituality. But it's not really hammered home too much and isn't exactly the most original of ideas for a film like this to probe. Although for the record, when this film is out on DVD, I am going to have a fucking amazing night watching a triple bill of Gravity and the tonally similar Moon and Sunshine. Being single is great because it means I can do that kind of thing without having to worry if my loved one minds! On the downside I'm currently likely to die both alone and unloved. Ah well... swings and roundabouts.

So I think it's obvious that I really loved this movie and if you still want to be one of the cool kids then I really suggest you check Gravity out. Every so often there'll be a Matrix or Inception type film that marries quality with action and unites both critics with paying audiences and that's exactly what this is. If we want more original movies that dare to show some intelligence then paying to see Gravity really is a step towards making it happen. I guess I'll therefore conclude by also saying that the special effects too are absolutely phenomenal as we're treated to the most spectacular glimpses of the Earth and stars that I've ever seen on the big screen. In general I do hate 3D films with a passion because, to put it technically, the effect is both pointless and shit. I was forced to see Thor: The Dark World in 3D recently and as I said in that blog, it was like staring into a dark void through a layer of greasy, man-jizz. However the rumours are true and if there's one film to see in this format it really is Gravity. If the curvature of Bullock’s arse isn't your cup of tea then to see the curvature of our planet like this really is a movie experience that I don't think I'll ever forget. The images on show in Gravity couldn't be more beautiful had they been farted onto a silk canvas by God after having drank a litre of paint from an angel’s vagina. This film really is as good as you've heard.  

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