Out now on Blu-ray and DVD
If there ever was a film that could make up for the rubbish 3D we’ve seen over the years, it’s Gravity. Finally there’s a good reason to have things flying in your face.
It's a tale of astronauts stranded in space, repeatedly getting battered by orbiting debris. Far from a gimmick, the 3D does a fine job of enhancing immersion. The opening shot alone – a slow pan of Earth and its shifting layers of cloud – is mesmerising.
A Blu-ray at home may never match the full IMAX experience (it’s a lot darker, for a start) but Gravity is nonetheless the best use of 3D we’ve seen. That said, it’s just as scintillating in 2D, and you benefit from a brighter, sharper picture.
And then there’s the sound. All this floating around means sound sources are rarely stationary. This will challenge the accuracy of your system’s sound effects placement.
More after the break
The film? It’s a workout, plain and simple. For the best part of 91 minutes, Gravity tries its hardest to keep heart-rates elevated.
It succeeds. What you get is a series of set pieces, each one as visually arresting as the next. Tension ramps up quickly as machines break and oxygen levels count down. The cinematography plays a huge part. Long, coherent takes are effective at drawing you in. And just as you feel a little settled, perspectives change.
Occasionally the film switches to first-person view, inside the helmet of an astronaut spinning out of control, hands flailing out to grab anything. We wouldn’t expect much claustrophobia in space, but in this case it’s hard not to tense up. It’s less film, more survival experience, and it’s exhilarating.
When it comes to the story, it’s thinner than a wafer on a diet. Gravity invests so much in keeping your buttocks clenched that there’s little room for character development or deeper narratives.
George Clooney has little to do but be his usual charming self. He doesn’t get much in the way of context, and serves as a source of irrelevant (but funny) remarks. Sandra Bullock gets a meatier role as the panicky novice who gets to fret and despair. There’s a vague attempt to introduce a back story, presumably to bring in an element of emotional baggage, but this is half-heartedly added and swiftly forgotten.
But that’s the point of the film. Gravity rarely lets up long enough to allow for proper breathing, let alone in-depth contemplation. This is an unashamedly visceral, technically impressive thrill ride, and everyone should have a go.
- Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space (narrated by Ed Harris)
- Aningaaq (Jonás Cuarón’s short film)
- Gravity: Mission Control
- Shot breakdowns
Duration – 91m
Audio – English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Picture – 2.40:1, 1080p
by Ced Yuen