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Critics reviews
Gravity
Alfonso Cuarón United States, 2013
The fact that the cast and crew have all clearly brought their A game makes the abbreviated ambitions of the script all the more glaring and increasingly frustrating as Ryan prepares for a hail-mary attempt at returning home. Gravityultimately feels like a genre workout, one that convincingly sees the heroism and struggle of not letting go, but never transcends its basic (wo)man-versus-nature narrative.
April 04, 2014
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Gravity, hailed by Scott Foundas, J. Hoberman, and Kristin Thompson as a rare and groundbreaking fusion of Hollywood and experimental filmmaking, and not merely an extremely well-tooled amusement-park ride, is now being touted as a natural descendent of both Michael Snow’s La région centrale as well as 2001: A Space Odyssey, as if its metaphysical and philosophical dimensions were somehow comparable.
December 05, 2013
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Gravity should be hailed for its vividness and for the artful elasticity with which it manipulates our sense of orientation – our bodily experience of watching, of being quasi-literally ‘moved’ by 3D imagery. But Cuarón ultimately sacrifices the promised ineffability for the easy payoff of cliffhanger thrills.
November 08, 2013
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The whole of Gravity is a technical marvel, a sprawling, eye-gorging example of all that contemporary film photography and special-effects units can offer. It’s just that the film is so remarkably banal, even embarrassing, on a dramatic level.
October 24, 2013
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Aside from its apparently suspect science, Gravity has taken shots for the loquacity of the screenplay, though this is justified in the context of the story—keeping a running monologue up over radio increases the chances of making ‘SOS’ contact with mission control—as well as being a pretty literalizing of the old saw "talking yourself down.
October 18, 2013
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I won’t spoil the details, but the ultimate message is more along the lines of ‘Never give up’ and ’Don’t be a quitter’, which comes perilously close to banality. What does that leave? Wondrous special effects, certainly. An evocation of space so seamless it doesn’t even call attention to itself – it just feels natural, like they took their cameras hundreds of miles beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
October 14, 2013
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The anxiety rarely abates even as the debris storms from broken-up satellites that plague the astronauts… provide the movie with its most visually enthralling moments. Maximum tension is derived from Bullock’s repeated attempts to find something, anything to hold on to. In 2001, space has a majestic indifference. In Gravity, space is an active threat. The precariousness of existence is a visual constant.
October 11, 2013
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Despite incorporating elements of fantasy and showcasing often thrilling craft, Cuarón’s movies are weighed down by an oppressive and fundamentally irresolvable sense of melancholy. Unlike the superficially similar films of Steven Spielberg, which demonstrate an overriding conservatism, Cuarón’s movies are driven by an impulse towards progress rather than recuperation, transformation instead of return.
October 07, 2013
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Hypothetically, Gravity should improve with the cease-and-desist of Clooney’s stubbly Buzz Lightyear act, which is some of the laziest acting he’s done in years. But his absence—set up such that there’s an ongoing possibility for his heroic return, which is not-so-skillfully exploited in a silly hallucination sequence—actually plays up a larger problem, namely the thinness of Bullock’s character.
October 04, 2013
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For all its stunning exteriors, it’s really concerned with emotional interiors, and it goes about exploring them with simplicity and directness, letting the actors’s faces and voices carry the burden of meaning. It’s about what happens to the psyche as well as the body in the aftermath of catastrophe.
October 04, 2013
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Jonathan Rosenbaum once wrote that F.W. Murnau’s Faust “integrates its dazzling special effects so seamlessly that they’re indistinguishable from the film’s narrative, poetry, and, above all, metaphysics.” The same could be said of this awesome sci-fi spectacle by Alfonso Cuaron, which took several years to make but still feels spontaneous in its action and character development.
October 04, 2013
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It’s hard to recall a movie that’s as viscerally thrilling and as deadly boring as “Gravity,” a colossal and impressive exertion of brain power aimed at overriding—at obviating—the use of brain power… the movie involves a far more menacing emptiness than the physical void of outer space: the absence of ideas.
October 04, 2013
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Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” marries science fact with the sheer poetics of being in space—its sense of dance in zero gravity, the visual thrill of there being no true up/down/right/left, the horrible beauty of action painting.
October 03, 2013
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These last two movies have clearly been thinking about Stanley Kubrick.Children of Men is the film that complements one Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange, and exceeds another, Full Metal Jacket. There are shots of Bullock in her helmet, spinning fetally, that evoke 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the film eventually feels like James Cameron’s Aliens, right down to Bullock’s haircut and skivvies.
October 03, 2013
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[The] breathtaking outer-space adventure “Gravity,” with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as a pair of astronauts marooned amid an apocalyptic application of Murphy’s Law, is without question the film of the week and one of the most important films of the year… It’s a film made in 3-D that very nearly justifies that overused, overhyped and largely unnecessary cinematic process, and a film made almost entirely with computer graphics… that is intimate, absorbing and fueled by human emotion.
October 03, 2013
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Gravity is also a psychological reckoning for a troubled genius forced to reconcile her demons in order to survive. In this sense, Gravity is just as much a thematic gauntlet as it is a visceral one. Through Stone’s panicked eyes, Cuarón exposes the futility of denying past traumas, stripping away the sort of self-fulfilling narratives Kowalski likes to reference throughout the film.
October 02, 2013
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Cuarón, a magician who brought personality to the Harry Potter series, is after pure, near-experimental spectacle. You’ll wonder how he got his humans to seem weightless in every shot (a triumph of computerized animation, superimposition and other crazy techniques), not about the dramatic weight they bring to the scenario—close to nil.
October 01, 2013
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Gravity, far from a step forward in film, so often seems a lateral step into the realm of simulators; the nearest analogue for the film’s increasingly tedious twirls and dips is not another sophisticated cinematic spectacle but rather Disneyland’s Star Tours ride, in which an audience is placed in a superficial and ultimately distancing form of immersion that stresses only the level of digital post-production required to make such shots possible.
September 30, 2013
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…Cuarón’s film may be either the most expensive avant-garde movie ever made or the most approachable, mass-appeal experimental work of art—like WALL-E’s “define gravity” dance writ on the scale of Erich von Stroheim. If seeing Earth from above for the first time left astronauts like Glenn feeling like they’d just been born again, Gravity’s simple muscularity restores wonder to cinematic representations of outer space and reinstates the integrity of blockbuster filmmaking.
September 29, 2013
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Despite constant intimations of philosophical import and cosmic grandeur, Gravity ultimately resembles nothing more than an unusually portentous Disney theme-park ride or a video-game cutscene expanded to feature length, Cuaron having marshalled his talents toward what’s essentially the world’s most expensive 90-minute sizzle reel. It’s effective only insubstantially and superficially.
September 25, 2013
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Impressively rendered in CGI, the interstellar landscape is indeed stunning—a boundless void that is as mesmerizing as it is terrifying… [But] The experience is more akin to playing a video game than watching a movie as each brief respite is dramatically disrupted by further disaster—a tether snapping, a fire alighting, another tether snapping—and the pattern is tedious and predictable rather than exhilarating.
September 10, 2013
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An obstruction for Cuarón’s ambition is the film’s CGI and effects: Clooney and Bullock are surrounded by unconvincing animations, never once does the film successfully situate them in a context that feels physically real. The performances are rendered awkward by the digital touch-ups on the actors’ spacesuits, as if the paper thin writing weren’t enough sabotage.
September 10, 2013
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More successful as delirious cinematic exercise than emotional survival tale, Alfonso Cuarón’s highly anticipated Gravity possesses a vast space between the quality of its virtuoso technique and its trite screenplay.
September 10, 2013
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As an excuse for Emmanuel Lubezki to rotate his camera through a bunch of cool-looking 3-D space hardware, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity does its job spectacularly. In narrative terms, though, it’s somewhat lacking, essentially counting on viewers to be so lulled by gorgeous refractions of light and insane long takes à la Children Of Men that they won’t care about dramatic anemia or missed opportunities for tension.
September 08, 2013
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Gravity is one of the most awe-inspiring F/X showcases in cinema history; its lengthy opening sequence alone… exhibits a command of space, in both the formal and literal sense, that’s breathtaking… The film does suffer a bit from its marked similarity to J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, which is likewise concerned with the nuts and bolts of survival in the middle of nowhere, but eschews dialogue… backstory, and any sort of “character arc” apart from not dying.
September 08, 2013
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To start with the obvious, the visuals in Gravity are impeccable, which is not due simply to the presence of virtuoso cinematographer Emmanuel Luzbeki—Alfonso Cuarón understands the spatial possibilities of the frame. Characteristically using reflections to add depth to an image, he finds himself an a priori amplified playground in a film set in deep space. But whatever he achieves here visually is never really matched by a profound narrative.
September 04, 2013
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When I stood up as the final credit rolled, I don’t mind admitting that I immediately had to sit down again, a Bambi-like wobble coursing through my limbs, as if I’d just re-encountered gravity myself. For sheer transference of experience upon the audience, I can think of no film quite like it.
August 28, 2013
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Within the first three minutes of the film is plain to see that no time has been wasted and that the director and his cinematographer were beavering away creating something a bit new and a bit different. Now let’s not be going all crazy and calling it a new visual language or anything — De Palma was half way here with his severely underrated Mission To Mars, from which this cribs more than a few key sequences — but this film, particularly its look, needs to be seen to be believed.
August 28, 2013
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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.
August 28, 2013
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