Average User Score: 7.8Feb 21, 2014Gravity (2013): Utterly Weightless
Let's just get this out of the way up front- if you're to garner even one iota of enjoyment out ofGravity (2013): Utterly Weightless
Let's just get this out of the way up front- if you're to garner even one iota of enjoyment out of Gravity it must be viewed on the largest screen possible donning a pair of 3D glasses. Surround sound is also imperative but if you've managed a Big Screen 3D setup, odds are you've got the audio side of the equation covered. Experiencing Gravity in any other way is simply not an option. I was fortunate enough to see Gravity on a 55" active 3D display in Dolby 5.1 (my home theater setup) and that would be considered the bare minimum requirement. It's certainly no Imax. Imagine watching the latest Pixar flick on a portable black and white monitor with the sound muted. Sound like fun? No? Then don't bother watching this in the comfort of your living room unless your home theater meets AT LEAST the previously stated requirements. This really can't be stressed enough. Onto the review...
2001, Alien, Moon. These films are considered classics of American cinema for very good reason, they all have superb story arcs bolstered by deep, rich character development. Alfonso Cuarón’s latest theatrical release, Gravity, has neither. Much like the empty environment the film takes place in, Gravity offers up breathtaking visuals but is utterly devoid of anything else.
Instead of a proper film, we're "treated" to an artistic experiment in the use of state of the art visual and audio effects to induce an intimate form of awe and panic. Something a standard 2D stereo film can't possibly replicate. And, as such, it's a smashing success. In one especially intense scene early on during Act I, Cuarón utilizes his trademarked long form single camera shot sequence (13 minutes to be exact) to make us feel the empty helplessness that Dr. Ryan (played adequately by Sandra Bullock) is surely experiencing. It works to great effect, and don't be surprised if a bit of sweat drips from your brow in the process.
So far, so good and we feel invested in our own survival. Not Dr. Ryan's survival mind you, she doesn't exist so much as a character but more of a human prop to advance the films running time. No, the clever use of 3D photography has us invested far more in our own well being then either that of Dr. Ryan or Matt Kowalsky (again, adequately played by George Clooney). I, for one, have felt neither dread nor danger in the cinema or my own couch outside of this expertly crafted opening sequence.
And then...nothing. This pony has flawlessly performed it's single trick. And it is quite the trick, but not something that can sustain any amount of interest past the 30 minute mark. I take pride in writing spoiler free reviews, so suffice it to say Gravity takes place in space (that much should already be abundantly clear), while "space stuff" sporadically explodes silently, life support mechanisms fail, and our two protagonists fight to make their way back to Cape Canaveral, or any place on Earth really, in one piece.
While a superficial attempt at character development is made by the filmmakers to inject Dr. Ryan and Kowalsky with heart and soul, it doesn't work. The failure to make us care about the films only two human assets is Gravity's greatest weakness. Will Ryan and Kowalsky triumph over the terrors of being stranded in space when their only ride back home has been devastated, or will they float endlessly into the dark abyss until they die slowly of asphyxiation? We have no emotional investment tied to either character, so who cares if they live or die? Maybe Kowalsky is a pedophile who deserves it. I don't know anything about him other than he was at Mardi Gras in 1987 and likes to talk about it.
Ultimately, Gravity is a visual spectacle that elevates the use of 3D in moviemaking to new heights, much like James Cameron did with Avatar. The difference being Cameron told a story, one that we actually cared about. The same can't be said for Gravity.
As much as the movie going audience and critics alike bemoan the use of 3D in modern filmmaking, Gravity shows us that, when done properly, the addition of a third dimension draws us in much closer to the story being told. But if that story isn't engaging and the characters aren't captivating, no amount of floating wrenches and exploding spaceships will transform a lackluster movie into a good one.
I love 3D and hope Gravity's success spurs a second renaissance for the fading technology. If nothing else, this film proves without question that 3D can draw viewers into a movie in a way that standard two dimensions never could. What 3D will never be able to do, however, is create an interesting story where one simply doesn't exist, as is the case with Gravity.
If you have the means to experience this film the way it was intended, you should absolutely do so. It very well may change your opinion on the importance of 3D in movie making. Just don't go in expecting a good movie, because Gravity isn't one.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.3Feb 12, 2014RoboCop (2014) is so much better than you're expecting that, for most of the 103 minute running time, you completely forget you bought thoseRoboCop (2014) is so much better than you're expecting that, for most of the 103 minute running time, you completely forget you bought those $16 Imax tickets just out of curiosity to see how bad of a train wreck this film was guaranteed to be. Instead, you'll find yourself surprised at how well it turned out and wishing it was all just a little better. Instead of the crime against humanity we were all fearing, Robocop is a decidedly well crafted film that can't achieve greatness.
Smart, expertly acted (had I known earlier that Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton signed on, I would have had higher expectations), and politically poignant, RoboCop is a remake far better than it has any right to be. It's frustrating to watch such a worthy movie fall all over itself in its earnest attempt to convey a plotline similar to that of the 1987 original. The cerebral bits of the film, of which there are many, prove to be captivating and compelling as the audience is forced to bear the emotional burden of watching Alex Murphy come to terms with being a quadruple amputee.
Then there's the action. Or, rather, near total lack of it. In an ironic twist of fate, the PG13 rated RoboCop didn't turn out to be the watered down, plot-less, ham handed G.I Joe of an action movie so many had feared. It's not much of an action movie at all. The few sequences of robot-kicking-ass-with-style are generic at best and borderline laughable at worst. Unfortunately, there's just not much combat or octane in this film, and mercifully there aren't more scenes that try for it.
RoboCop is a surprising success, either because expectations were so abysmally low or it's actually a good flick. This viewer thinks it's a bit of both, but the former doesn't infringe on the later.
Score: 7.5 (rounded up to 8)