Film Review: Gravity

There are plenty of reviews all over the internet from professional critics and amateur bloggers alike giving you every conceivable thought on Gravity. Whether it’s from the sublime to the redicoulous, the implausible to the technical breakdown whatever you want to know about Gravity shouldn’t be hard to find and so it seems a little bit pointless for me to spend paragraphs now giving you feelings on it.

I will quickly just say that for me, Gravity is a technical masterpiece, it is film making at the cutting edge of what is achievable. But, that is both a good and bad thing. I feel with Gravity that because they wanted to be a game changer, they wanted to make you completely rethink everything you know and feel about 3D they have essentially said “to hell with the plot, this is about 3D”. And so, you are left with a movie that doesn’t really make sense, and has a lot of parts that feel more like they are just there to allow them to show off what they can do visually and with CGI, than for any narrative or story telling purpose. On IMDB I gave Gravity 8/10 and I stand by that. It’s brilliant but it’s rooted so much in 3D that I don’t see how it’s possible to watch it in anything else. I can’t see how, watching it in 2D, where it would stand up only on its plot, you could ever enjoy it.

It’s that total reliance on 3D that I want to blog about this time though. Like I said, I see no point in “reviewing” Gravity; however, it is the first movie that I can say I’ve seen in 3D both at home and, in the cinema. And therefore, I feel that it gives me the perfect opportunity to compare the two. To compare big screen 3D to small screen 3D. At this point I need to point out, firstly, that this isn’t a technical comparison but rather an opinion piece and secondly, I’m comparing RealD 3D’s passive system as used by Vue Cinema’s to my Panasonic active 3D system.

The first most obvious thing that you realise is that 3D needs to be big. I have a 42″ TV and watching Gravity on it, I actually got the impression of watching the action where as I remember Gravity in the cinema being a far more immersive experience. I think the bigger the screen the more engulfing the experience. However, that’s both a good and bad thing, because on the smaller screen at home the depth perception that annoys me so much with 3D, the magic eye comic 3D that happens when you get an overly large foreground extending from a virtually flat 2D background appears far less pronounced and noticeable. And that’s a good thing.

Gravity never really suffered with that problem though. Because the background to outer space essentially has no depth and no reference points and is already “flat” you don’t really notice the problems it can create. You don’t get this comic book style effect. What it allowed them to do was to spend hours really perfecting the use of 3D in the foreground without having to really worry about ensuring they look connected to the background. This means that, for me, you’re not in need to enveloping into the world our astronauts reside in, but rather you are able to focus on them individually. Every time you were presented with a close up shot I found the reduced viewing window so to speak that the smaller screen gives actually allowed me to focus on the individuals better than I could on the big screen.

However, as with everything, this was then instantly let down the minute you got a wide angle shot, where the is no question it extra yardage of the cinema experience wins hands down. And therefore, throughout my home viewing of Gravity I was constantly finding that I’d start to really enjoy it and then it’d cut to a shot outside and you’d get a slightly disappointing reminder that things were still a bit small.

But there was one absolutely magical moment that made me sit up and go wow. Whether it’s the passive system, or just 3D in the cinema in general, I have never really found that images portrayed away from the screen work for me. I can see the extra depth going back into the screen with ease, but as soon as something is meant to come flying out of the screen towards me, it never really works. I never feel like it’s really detaching, it never feels like it truly is coming at me. At home though, this totally changed. Only once to a level that as I said, stopped me in me tracks, but as Sandra Bullock cried at the thought of her potential death, her tear drifted slowly and effortlessly away from her face, towards me and finally out of the screen.

I finally knew what it meant when people say they felt like could reach out and touch it. It was at that moment I felt I finally had witnessed everything 3D could offer and by heck lad, it can be a game changer.

I will forever stand by my opinion that 3D is a bit of a gimmick, that it doesn’t need to be included on every big blockbuster and certainly, we don’t need to be enhancing and releasing old classics with it. And the more I see the more I am convinced 3D works best when it is used in a CGI world, the more of a scene created in a computer and not captured honestly by the lens the greater the effect and the less likelihood of “magic eye” effect but Gravity has shown it does have a place in this world. But I think it’s should be looked at in the same way as black and white and soundscapes. It’s a tool to enhance the right film and not a standard from which to work.

If you want my opinion on whether I enjoyed Gravity more at home or in the cinema? Then I would have to say, that both have their merits and both have their problems. However, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed which medium you watch it in. I took longer to get into Gravity at home because it starts out with such a wide angle action sequence and as I said, that suffers on the small screen. Yes, I know I’m not really answering the question, but that is because I really don’t know quite how to. I truly am stuck firmly on the fence unable to tip one way or the other.

All I would say, is that now I can compare the two, it feels good to know that whichever way I get to see a film in 3D, I won’t be really losing out. Comparing 3D at home to the cinema just results in the same argument as comparing screen size. What you lose on one hand is simply replaced by the other in a different way.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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