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Afterimage: Gravity

Movie

Gravity ***

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An illustrated existential crisis. Or, a survival story in which nearly every exterior event carries interior significance. Either way, it's gripping. The story is simple: an astronaut (a smooth-faced Sandra Bullock), cut loose from her spiritual moorings by a freak accident, is cut loose from her physical moorings by another freak accident. Now, just a hair's breadth from the cold embrace of the Big Nothing, she must struggle to find her way back to life. Also, earth. Director Alfonso Cuaron isn't shy about deploying Christian tropes — her journey back to life begins only after fellow astronaut George Clooney lays down his life for her and tells her how to be saved — to the point where it's fair to ask whether they're tropes at all. The camera does an enormous amount of the work here — now watching Bullock as she spins helplessly through space, now holding steady on her while the universe turns with her at its center, now slipping inside her helmet to watch the whirling maelstrom from her untethered point of view.

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Three separate trailers that basically show the same cataclysmic incident from three different angles did little to arouse my interest. It looked like more effects-driven outer space shenanigans, this time with Bullock and Clooney on board hoping that the comic book concept would draw an adult audience.

Needless to say, I drifted into Gravity kicking and screaming.

Of course the 3D effects are spectacular -- no one would be talking about it were it not for CGI -- but did it have to be the whole show? Two stinking characters to develop. Is that asking too much of this technical exercise?

The problem with Gravity can be summed up in two words: dead kid.

Hollywood has a bad habit of never sticking to the problem at hand. As if a first-time astronaut careening through space like an unhinged Tilt-A-Whirl isn't enough to arouse an audience's sympathy, why the need for the cheap second act reveal that the Sandra Bullock character recently buried a young daughter?

Millions for simulating space but not one cent for play acting?

Lust in space.

Her co-moonwalker doesn't fare much better. It's Ocean in space as cheeky Clooney, looking and sounding a lot like Buzz Lightyear, flirts and floats his way across the green screen.

Gravity slowly skimmed the surface of the Grossmont's giant 60-foot screen. Seldom bored, never wowed, I sat waiting for a curtain shot of the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand that never came.

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Movie

Gravity ***

thumbnail

An illustrated existential crisis. Or, a survival story in which nearly every exterior event carries interior significance. Either way, it's gripping. The story is simple: an astronaut (a smooth-faced Sandra Bullock), cut loose from her spiritual moorings by a freak accident, is cut loose from her physical moorings by another freak accident. Now, just a hair's breadth from the cold embrace of the Big Nothing, she must struggle to find her way back to life. Also, earth. Director Alfonso Cuaron isn't shy about deploying Christian tropes — her journey back to life begins only after fellow astronaut George Clooney lays down his life for her and tells her how to be saved — to the point where it's fair to ask whether they're tropes at all. The camera does an enormous amount of the work here — now watching Bullock as she spins helplessly through space, now holding steady on her while the universe turns with her at its center, now slipping inside her helmet to watch the whirling maelstrom from her untethered point of view.

Find showtimes

Three separate trailers that basically show the same cataclysmic incident from three different angles did little to arouse my interest. It looked like more effects-driven outer space shenanigans, this time with Bullock and Clooney on board hoping that the comic book concept would draw an adult audience.

Needless to say, I drifted into Gravity kicking and screaming.

Of course the 3D effects are spectacular -- no one would be talking about it were it not for CGI -- but did it have to be the whole show? Two stinking characters to develop. Is that asking too much of this technical exercise?

The problem with Gravity can be summed up in two words: dead kid.

Hollywood has a bad habit of never sticking to the problem at hand. As if a first-time astronaut careening through space like an unhinged Tilt-A-Whirl isn't enough to arouse an audience's sympathy, why the need for the cheap second act reveal that the Sandra Bullock character recently buried a young daughter?

Millions for simulating space but not one cent for play acting?

Lust in space.

Her co-moonwalker doesn't fare much better. It's Ocean in space as cheeky Clooney, looking and sounding a lot like Buzz Lightyear, flirts and floats his way across the green screen.

Gravity slowly skimmed the surface of the Grossmont's giant 60-foot screen. Seldom bored, never wowed, I sat waiting for a curtain shot of the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand that never came.

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