The pivotal event in Gravity is an echo, possibly a conscious one, of the tenderest, most tragic moment in Mission to Mars. Cuarón is even more of a romantic than De Palma, if such a thing is possible. He finds all kinds of ways to link survival in space with life on Earth. There, as here, anyone might have reason to feel loneliness, despair, fear, or exaltation, and homesickness—for a place, a person, a planet—is universal. Gravity is harrowing and comforting, intimate and glorious, the kind of movie that makes you feel more connected to the world rather than less. In space, no one can hear you scream. But a whole audience can hear you breathe. And that is a wondrous thing


Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Warner Brothers
Opens October 4

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Gravity has all the individual parts of a film rated high, near a 10, but once the parts are assembled, the whole is not equal to the parts. Even though the film is shot in space, and is set to depict a realistic portrayal of how events like these could take place, the film is really just about Ryan, a single human’s struggle to survive, and then with this revelation the epic space setting becomes incidental. It might as well have been set in the forest

Problem: Ryan is not an interesting character. She seems ill prepared for such a dangerous space mission, and when she talks about her daughter, in a moment that I assume is used to attempt to ground the film in reality by showing us the why, we don’t care about her daughter. The current situation at hand is much more interesting. Including this talk about life back home was a mistake that took me out of the moment. I don’t care about Earth here; I care about this amazing crisis taking place just above Earth. A space movie should emphasize themes bigger than the individual. The mission should be more important than the life of the astronaut. Simply making it back to Earth alive is not an exciting enough conclusion.

Although maybe the best of her career, Bullock still delivers a subpar portrayal of a character that is herself subpar. I loved Cuarón’s Children of Men and I feel here Cuarón’s work is great. From a technical perspective, Cuarón’s filmmaking is incredible, the cinematography stunning, the portrayal of space amazing, so what went wrong? Besides a storyline that fails to transcend human matters, a factor that Cuarón may have been able to gloss over under different circumstances, when a film centers on a single actor, and that actor is Sandra Bullock, to quote Yeats, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”



Comments from knowledgeable film fans and astro-phycisist's will be ignored --- if not outrightly demonized --- as those on the slow-bus to zeitgeist continue gushing.  "This is what 3D was made for!"  Well, at least we can agree it wasn't made for all that blue-cat and superhero fantasy crap they've been trying to force-feed us.

Sappiest film I've seen since FORREST GUMP, with the prettiest effects since that first dinosaur movie.  So, this is what nostalgia for 1994 is like?


i normally respect writers from the village voice and here im impressed that the writer does not fall into the same discursive slump when talking about mission to mars which is brilliant and has been lauded by most of the european film community.  but why such a sophisticated writer with clearly an impressive knowledge of cinema is gushing about a movie that is really a drug movie disguised as a space movie (ohhhh stars perty...) is beyond me.  anyone who has logged enuff screening hours or marathon watched dexter breaking bad or mad men could have predicted every story beat in a film that technologically is much less sophisticated than it appears to be.   it makes nolans work on inception seem genius by comparison.   as soon as clooney tethers himself to bullock we know we are gonna get her story in the form of obligatory exposition.   we know we are going to get the theme handed to us with a bow.   this is a case where the syntax or the style of the movie is enuff to distract from its semantic emptiness.  cuarons work is meditative in the worst sense of the word.  it doesnt matter what any of it means as long as you feel something.  in that case why make a movie? just go film giant tibetan bells ringing in tandem and you have the same results.  and dont get me started on clooneys ghost...who didnt see that entire moment coming the instant clooney was lost to the void? 


"Gravity" is not something of a revelation or a visionary breakthrough.  Those comparing it to 2001: A Space Odyssey are doing a disservice to Kubrick and showing their superficial understanding of that movie. 

Firstly, Kubrick helped pioneer effects photography on 2001 LONG before computers created CGI and before ILM ever existed.   His visual trickery is without a doubt a milestone in cinema.

As  visual effects artist myself, I can say without a doubt that the CGI environment in "Gravity" is minimalist at best.  There is no real challenge here depicting space within the confines of a computer.  Do some motion tracking with faces that are attached to 3D models, and then reverse the technique and add real bodies where people least expect them.  It does not take a lot of work to create bump maps or texture maps to create the visuals in "Gravity."  

The miniature photography was far more complicated in 2001 to simulate orbiting and transit in space and at the same time to execute a convincing lighting scheme.  Kubrick would have killed to have had a computer that could have generated the models that he used.  It would have taken way less time.  But seeing his reaction to importing real rocks from Vietnam to England on Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick probably would have rejected the use of the computer anyway unless it ultimately meant his inability to shoot a movie.

Kubrick also rigorously studied the physical laws of space with Clarke as his guide to depict realistically conditions in space.  Cuaron who is supposed to be the son of a Engineer doesn't even seem to pay respect to basic laws of motion and force.  Wherever he feels like subjugating physics to emotion, he does so -- including the shot of Bullock standing up on a beach after many hours of weightlessness and escaping a module that surely would have caused her to have experienced the bends. 

Kubrick did not do this.  He grounded man's encounter with the fantastic within the construct of known physical laws.

In the end, "Gravity" is a predictable, elaborate, and expensive screensaver which strives to invoke awe and mystery while duping its audience into thinking it has a shred of physical reality.   It doesn't.   


@villagevoice I saw "Gravity" 3D IMAX..WOW..what visuals! Ducked many times..things coming at me! I recommend IMAX.


@villagevoice just the preview fills you with apprehension worse than riding the coaster on the stratosphere in vegas

Dorine Walski
Dorine Walski

Agreed. Have seen it twice already. Can't get enough.


@villagevoice @kingkroba saw the premiere...insanely mesmerizing film to watch. Story lacked but the film itself was pure eye candy.


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