10DoO #5 – Gravity (2013)

by Jaime Grijalba.

Personally, I think that this movie is good, and at times it can manage to be great. The elements of the space, how it plays with the scientific elements, never truly bending any formative or common rule of any kind for the sake of it (so that means there’s no magical technology that suddenly nulls any rule that would in any way fuck everything up or on the contrary, help the protagonist in any way), how you even forget that it’s not supposed to be a science fiction movie since the elements present here are so similar to the movies of yesteryear that happened in the outer space (or the orbit of the planet in this case), that you can’t help but feel the emotion of seeing something as perfectly crated as this in a movie in 2013, so this is the kudos for the people who made this movie possible, bravo, this movie might not be perfect, but it sure looks like as if it was made in orbit, as if cameras were possible to move that way, as if the actors were really giving their all for the performance, as if anything that was done here was actually a matter that was between life and death at every second that the clock would count in production. But, does it really matter? The movie was a success, the film has been lauded by critics, and is the most probable film that can cause an upset in the category of Best Picture, maybe you could say, stealing it from ’12 Years a Slave’ (2013), while his award for best director is a sure thing, so why does this movie, as good as it manages to be, irks me a lot whenever I think about it and start discussing certain elements of the specifics? Does it mean that I really like it? Of course I like it, it’s a movie that is a visual orgasm at times, how else could you even describe it? Why does this film irk me this much? So, I decided that since I like this movie, since it has its fervent admirers, its incredible supporters, and the majority of the bets to win the big awards in Oscar night, and since I just like it but don’t love, I might as well use this space to point out everything that I find negative about this movie, maybe this will be something worth reading in the future.

So, why did I ask if anything matters in the end? It’s because, as I hinted elsewhere, this movie might be a visual beauty, and the work done by the special effects crew is amazing, but the movie elements, and I mean actors, sets and directing, as well as camera movements seem… lazy to say the least, even as if the movie was tailored made after a footage that was recorded years before the technology available to make it look this way was available (and I guess, from what I heard, that’s what delayed the movie some years after the principal photography was done). Why do I say lazy? Because everything is fake! The starting five minutes were lauded as something really special, one of the most breathtaking continuous shots of all time, but it was all done by a computer, every movement, everything that appeared in the screen was fake, even the bodies in the space suits, those are fake too, the only element that wasn’t fake was the faces of the actors, who were recorded separately on a green screen, so we’re talking about a total absence of bodies in space, as some theorical critics would joke about. This movie is just a really good animated film that had some faces here and there to make the ilussion that there was a human quality, a human hand in the process, that there was an actual camera at any point in the film recording something, that it wasn’t just a big rendered animation of a disaster, but that’s exactly what it is, and that makes me mad for some reason… or at least dissapointed in what could’ve possibly be done as to avoid that kind of artificial (that doesn’t look artificial), as in a way that all the praise for the cinematography and other elements like the directing were all decided after the shooting was done, as the image and camera movements were decided after the fact, with no real work done on the plateau, that’s what in the end makes me angry or dissapints me the most, it’s all a fake, and I hate to be cheated on.

Another of the most criticized elements of the movie is the script, and I must say that it’s not great. There’s an over-abundance of subtext and subplot that most of the time feels completely unnecesary as the ambience nor the situation at hand in which the protagonist is deserves the mention of certain backstories. The dead child of the protagonist, the way that George Clooney seems to make a joke out of everyone, the obvious symbolism (almost seems pointed out in the script) of the rebirth of the character in the water and when she arrives to the shuttle, all those elements, sequences and dialogues could’ve been erased and introduced in a much more less obvious manner or not presented at all, and the film wouldn’t be as criticized as it is right now for those things by the nay-sayers. There are some interestingly written sequences, like all that happens in the escape pod, the hallucinations and radio conversations included, but besides that the film just feels devoid of anything remotely considered a story more than a series of unfortunate events combined with the daily soap opera confessions about the past, or the witty insinuations that belong in a talky 40’s screwball comedy. One of the most common complaints was its resemblance to what people called ‘videogame cutscene’, and I must say that this might be the best videogame cutscene that I’ve seen in my life, because I don’t see that as a negative thing to say, though if I had to say something about that is that it’s almost seems copied from one of the most beautiful sequences in ‘Final Fantasy VIII’ where Squall has to rescue Rinoa by putting on a spacesuit and going after her in the dark of the universe.

This might seem as if I hate the film’s guts, but that’s not true, I just think that these reservations must be had.


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