Archive | October, 2013

The All-Star Treehouse of Horror Episode

29 Oct

Unless you’ve been living in the remotest part of the Nubian desert for the last quarter of a century, then you… wait, no… even if you have been living in the remotest part of an obscure desert, then you’ve probably still heard of The Simpsons. It is, after all, the longest running American sitcom, it created the most well known fictional beer, and it has been translated into several languages. Every single season (besides the first season) has a Treehouse of Horror episode. Released around Halloween, these episodes are a delightful treat for the viewer. They are darker than a normal episode and take place outside of the regular Simpsons continuity. Being that this once a season occurrence throws all rules aside, writers get much more creative than they do with a run of the mill Simpsons episode, making for memorable and anticipated TV. In a typical Treehouse episode, alien brothers Kang and Kodos generally have cameos, and everyone has some fun with their names in the credits (e.g. Morbid Matt Groening, James Hell Brooks). Every episode is comprised of a unique opening sequence and three independent stories. I’ve done my best to compile the best of the best to create my version an All-Star Treehouse of Horror episode. Continue reading

Good Movies For Halloween

20 Oct

To the Ancients, October 31st was sacred because it was a cross-quarter day and it was when the Pleiades culminated in the sky at midnight. Harvest festivals were held during this time, the modern incarnation of these celebrations is Halloween. Although we forgo human sacrifices, some old traditions carried over and new ones were thrown in to combine the frightening with the funny. Scary movies possess their greatest popularity during this time and while I’m not someone who generally likes scary movies I appreciate them most in the weeks before Halloween. Here I suggest some movies that will get you into the right mindset for Halloween, because they aren’t just creepy but sometimes combine the fun and humor that encapsulates what a proper Halloween should be.

The Thing (1982) – John Carpenter’s best movie, mostly remembered for the creature effects, but those would mean nothing if the themes of paranoia, suspicion, isolation, and infection weren’t the foundation of the story. I like this movie because it’s one of the few movies where the alien is so different and unfamiliar to anything human. And for what they accomplished before computer graphics, it is gross, suspenseful, and gory in an visceral way. Already love this movie? You might enjoy this story from The Thing’s point of view.

Wickerman

The Wicker Man (1973) – Screw Nick Cages’s “The Bees!” shit. Watch the original with legend Christopher Lee. It’s about an island of crazy Pagans and their crazy Pagan rituals. A slow building mystery that you’re piecing together. Then holy shit! What the Hell is this? This movie gets back to the Agrarian roots Halloween sprang from. “You must keep your appointment with the Wicker Man.”

The Shining (1980) – Personally this is one of the best movies (not just horror, but all around) ever. Because it has a purpose and it executes that purpose supremely well. This was the first “R” movie I was allowed to watch and have lost count of how many times I’ve seen it, the replay value is endless. Stanley Kubrick was a perfectionist like no other and it shows, this movie is technically flawless, the shots are dreamlike, the setting is ominous, the characters are unforgettable. The movie shocks you not just with horror and suspense but with unexplained mysteries like the photograph, and the the furry giving head. It knocks the feet out from your expectations and forces you to think. People will be talking about this classic forever.

Re-Animator

The Re-Animator (1985) – What a fun film. I thought this was going to be one of those B-movies that’s so bad its good. Nope, although campy, Re-Animator is genuinely entertaining. It is darkly funny like when one character decapitates another with a shovel then feels bad about it, and brings the head back to life to explain himself. The zombies are medical instead of graveyard based so it is a refreshing change in design. This movie has all you want from a cult film; brief nudity, blood, gore, passionate overacting, and anatomical gag humor, it is a great ride.

Freaks (1932) – Tod Browning directed the classic Dracula(1931), he could’ve had a successful career directing endless sequels. But decided to be original and took the risk of making Freaks. A movie that could never be done again. Casting real side-show performers, the characters show that despite their various forms they’re all human beings. Watching this cigarette being lit is why the movie is worth seeing. By showing these people interacting with everyday issues, it treats them with respect. The real monsters are people who demean their physical differences and might have to be taught a hard lesson in what it is like to be labeled a “freak”.

Frankenhooker (1990) – A medical student’s fiancée is cut into pieces by a lawnmower. So he decides to revive her by attaching her preserved head to a body fashioned from female donor body parts. To obtain these body parts he cooks up some “Supercrack” which will cause anyone who smokes it to explode. Then hits the streets of Manhattan looking for hookers with just the right proportions. What could go wrong? If knowing that much doesn’t make you want to watch, I don’t know what will. This is the movie that is so bad it has to be good.

Donnie

Donnie Darko (2001) – Watch the Theatrical version NOT the Director’s cut, I’d rather watch hammered dog shit then the director’s cut again. But the theatrical version is about as good a Halloween movie as you can get. It takes place during Halloween and has lots of references to other Halloween flicks like Evil Dead, E.T., and IT. The movie has a great cast, a soundtrack that’s part sci-fi and part 80’s pop and Donnie Darko gets a little trippy. It opens with a prediction about the end of the world then follows a high school boy who’s taunted by chilling visions of a 6ft rabbit, by the time that rabbit asks “Have you ever seen a portal?” I had goose bumps. This cult-movie isn’t for everyone but it is one of my favorites.

Hopefully if you’re not feeling the Halloween vibe yet, one or a combination of these movies will get you close. If like me you’re all about Halloween, now is the perfect time to check out something you haven’t seen.

I encourage your movie suggestions that are best viewed this time of year too.

Carl Wells

Top 5 Fictional Beers

16 Oct

If a bartender asks what you want and you respond with “a beer”, then the bartender likely stares at you blankly for a few seconds before listing which beers are available. One of the most annoying interactions in movies and television is when someone orders “a beer” at a bar, and the bartender gladly plops down some suds without question. Why does this happen? Is it too much of a hassle to get permission to use a trademarked name? Wouldn’t breweries love the free advertisement? It is great when fictional characters order real beers (e.g. Walter White drinks Fat Tire). It is even better when writers go the length to create fictional beers for their characters to enjoy. Ranking the top 5 fictional beers is certainly a pointless endeavor, which is exactly why it is worth writing about on Stupid Opinions.

Dishonorable Mention:

Honorable Mention:

  • Samuel L. Jackson Beer from Chappelle’s Show. Dave Chappelle being crazy before he was certifiable with this beer that will get you drunk!
  • Schraderbräu from Breaking Bad. Hank Schrader was quite fond of his own creation, and it was probably not half bad for a homebrew considering Hank’s meticulous nature.

And, now, for the top 5 fictional beers:

5. Alamo Beer from King of the Hill

King of the Hill

Hank and friends doin their thang with some Alamos

There is actually a real Alamo beer now, but there is no relation to Hank’s personal favorite brand. Alamo Beer is likely a lager similar to other domestic beers such as Budweiser. It comes “from the lukewarm headwaters of the mighty Brazos River,” and (like Pabst Blue Ribbon) it is reknown for being an award winning beer — winner of the Munich Beer Festival in 1849. Alamo deserves a spot in the top 5 because every episode of KotH opens with Hank and friends enjoying beer as life flies by in front of them, and there are several episodes that reference the beer or have plots that revolve around it.

4. Shotz Beer from Laverne and Shirley

Shotz Beer

This label isn’t phallic at all! 8=D (get your mind out of the gutter, that emoticon is a guy wearing glasses with a really big smile)

This Happy Days spin-off takes place in Milwaukee just a few blocks from the real life, once famous Schlitz Brewing Company. Being that Shotz is most likely playing off of Schlitz, that would mean it is also an adjunct American lager like Alamo. Shotz definitely deserves a spot in the top 5 because it was a centerpiece of the show. Every episode famously opens with the two women making their way to work in the brewery on the bottle capping line. The show capitalized on the rich brewing history of Milwaukee. True to history, Laverne and Shirley lost their jobs due to automation and had to move to California. Without beer, the show soon lost its pizzazz and went out off the air… just sayin.

3. Buzz Beer from The Drew Carey Show

Buzz Beer

This rowdy crowd loved beer, coffee, and roller coasters.

The Drew Carey Show was a very underrated sitcom that took place in Cleveland and relied heavily on plots based on Buzz Beer. Buzz Beer is an extremely popular concoction of beer and coffee. Buzz Beer is a must on this list because the show pretty much encapsulates every homebrewer’s dream. Drew Carey begins brewing beer in his basement and, with the help of his friends, turns his hobby into a business. Several episodes revolve around brewing Buzz Beer, having business meetings, distributing Buzz Beer, and drinking. The show tried to make coffee beer seem like a groundbreaking new product, but that simply isn’t so. Brewers have been making coffee beers for years, and there is even a coffee beer category at Great American Beer Festival. Regardless, Buzz Beer’s major role on The Drew Carey Show definitely merits a top fictional beer spot.

2. Elsinore from Strange Brew

Strange Brew

If you haven’t seen this movie, then you need to take off, you hoser!

Strange Brew has to be the best movie ever made about beer. Brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie embark on a silly beer adventure loosely based on Hamlet. It is unclear exactly what style of beer Elsinore is, but watch out for mice in bottles or mind controlling drugs. Elsinore is most definitely one of the greatest fictional beers ever created. The brewery has a rich family history, and the beer has very loyal imbibers (even dogs). If you haven’t seen it, then DO! This wacky, cult, Canadian comedy most certainly needs to be watched with beer in hand.

1. Duff beer from The Simpsons

Duff Man

All the greatest superheroes have beer belts.

When a show has been on the air for 25 seasons with a main character who has a penchant for beer, then you better believe Duff Beer from The Simpsons has to be numero uno on the list of top fictional brews. Over the years, writers on The Simpsons have developed this brand so much that there are multiple taglines, countless advertisements, an official spokesman, numerous variants, a theme park, and even a competing brand — Fudd, which supposedly makes hillbillies go blind. Homer’s favorite variety is regular Duff, which is apparently the exact same beer as Duff Light and Duff Dry. Being a parody of stereotypical, cheap, poor quality, domestic beer, Duff is likely comparable to a Bud — a light, lager. Never thought you’d be able to try this beer? Think again. Several countries produce knock off Duff that has had Matt Groening in a fit, but you can taste an official Duff in Moe’s Tavern at Universal Studios in Florida.

So there you have it. The top 5 fictional beers. What do you think? Would you rank them differently? Add to the list? Which would you like to drink most? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’re still interested, there is a whole mess of fictional beers:
http://brookstonbeerbulletin.com/fictional-beer-brands/
http://legendsofbeer.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/15-famous-beers-youll-probably-never-drink/
 
Derek is a new contributor to Stupid Opinions Written Poorly. Follow him on Twitter at @derekwgilmore

Plot Summary of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel: or a stupid ploy for cheap pageviews

15 Oct

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) dir. Wes Anderson

SOWP_grand_budapest_hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel was the city’s most elegant hotel was built as a demonstration of the resolve in the hearts and minds of the people of Hungary who eagerly greeted the world with magnificent luxury and sumptuous service. Mr. Moustafa (F. Murrary Abraham) is the heart, mind and soul of the monument to a forgone time and forgotten ideals, who also happens to be the most respected concierge in Europe.  When he reads a copy John Fante’s 1933 was a Bad Year left mysteriously on a room service tray he realizes his own mortality. He reaches out to young Parisian maid, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), to begin to unlock his secrets of running the most successful hotel in Hungary. The unexpected relationship catch the ire of long time hotel employees Henckels (Edward Norton) and Dmitri (Adrien Brody), each of whom thought they were next in line for the coveted position of head concierge. The story takes place over one day from the perspective of a successful author (Tom Wilkinson) looking back on the most important period of his young artistic life (young author played by Jude Law). A cast of anomalous characters pass through the author’s life and the doors of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Coming March 2014

-C.Charles

Surviving The Great American Beer Festival

12 Oct

Oktoberfest in Munich is world famous and although I’ve never attended, luckily I got to go to the next best thing in Denver CO, The Great American Beer Festival! In the past 10 years I’ve managed to go to about 7 of these intoxicating events and still find it challenging to describe what the experience is like. The basic idea is that brewers show up to have their beers compete for various contests and bragging rights. It is also an opportunity to advertise and meet fellow beer enthusiasts. But 95% of people don’t care about any of that, it’s there to make the activity of binge drinking sound more official.

GABF

Some of the statistics might put into perspective how grand this year’s Beerfest was. There were 624 Breweries that participated, which altogether brought over 3100 types of beer. These beers were sampled by about 49,000 attendees during 4 sessions that each is 4 and a half hours long. All these people consume an estimated 48,000 gallons of beer that get’s served…wait for it…One ounce at a time. Since there is an “all the beer you can drink” policy this allows you to try hundreds of types of beer from all over the United States. Most brewers follow this formula; there’s at least one light colored beer, one dark beer, one IPA, a Saison (these must have really caught on, cause they were rarer in years past), and one wild card beer. The wild card is where the fun stuff is and also why you try and go to the first session, because these beers are the first ones that run out. They have; coffee beers, fruity beers, pumpkin beers, wildflower beers, pepper beers, chai beers, there was even a cucumber beer I tried this year which sounds just wrong but was actually pretty good. The bitch of it is that when you finally find that absolute perfect beer, it is probably brewed in Cowfart Idaho so you’ll never see it in a liquor store. Luckily you can drink as many one ounce pours of it as you want, so bottoms up as long as you’re there.

Beerfest 1

There’s traditions that exists at GABF that might take a newcomer by surprise. Like if someone drops their cup the clack of it hitting the ground is immediately followed by a public shaming in the form of the entire place erupting in an “Aaaaahhhoooohhh”.  The first time I went, there were so many people wearing pretzel necklaces. I asked someone where they bought theirs, she laughed and said she’d made it. All those thousands of people bring homemade necklaces, including me. It is hard to believe not one entrepreneur has started selling pretzel necklaces either inside or even on the street outside, they’d rack in the cash. Anyway that’s something that GABF has in common with Comic Con; people dress up for it. There are tons of pretzel necklaces and cup holder necklaces, giant beer mug hats, Hop hats, chicken hats, all sorts of tacky funny stuff. There’s also quite a few people in full costumes (purposely not using the word “cosplay” because that’s a retarded word. You can wear a costume, or play dress up, I respect that, but call it what it is because “cosplay” has no meaning.) This year I saw some of the classic German beer serving waitresses, some Medieval  European Monks, and 6ft Oompa Loompas, just to name a few. But my personal favorites were two young women who’d dressed up like Duff Man and Surly, since I was wearing a Mr. Sparkle t-shirt (pronounced “Mistel Spalkeroo”)  I felt the kinship between us. There also may or may not be a photo that exists somewhere of me with a random guy in Princess Leia drag, it was toward the end of the night and things were getting fuzzy. You can start to see how GABF is a celebration of all things beer, not just the drinking of it, but honoring the social lubrication it provides for our society.

Simpsons

How can I go to this magical drink all you want carbohydrate wearing party? You ask yourself. Here’s where the biggest problem is. The first year I went you could walk right up and buy your tickets the day of the event at the Convention center for like $40. But since it has gotten so popular ticket prices have gone up every year and sold out faster and faster. This year they were a whopping $75 a person and all sold out in less than 20 minutes. Furthermore now to even have a shot at buying tickets online you have to sign up as a member of their little made-up “Brewer’s Association” club, that costs an additional $38 a year and that won’t even guarantee you a spot, as they say on the site “There are more members of the Brewers Association than there are attendee slots…Not every member will be able to purchase tickets.” This is why I stopped going every year, it is too hard to get overpriced tickets. The only reason I went this year was because a friend who’s part of their club got me a ticket. Believe me I love the challenge of drinking more than $75 worth of free beer in 4 hours. But this might be my last GABF for quite some time. Thanks for lots of great memories.

Carl Wells

Gravity Perfects 3D, Spoils Space

10 Oct Gravity Perfects 3D, Spoils Space

Here’s my pro spoiler review of Gravity making this the antithesis to Mr. Carl Wells’ spoiler free review. Gravity is being touted as the first movie made explicitly for 3D, but whoever is saying that obviously never heard of Spy Kids 3D. Lots of movies these days claim to be made “explicitly for 3D.” From Avatar to World War Z, production companies rake in the extra dough from the apparent unnecessary rental fee for plastic glasses in order to watch a few things “pop out” at you during the movie.

Old People enjoying a 3 dimensional moving picture

No one actually reacts like this in the theater

What makes Gravity different from every 3D movie that predates it is that 3D is a requirement, not a suggestion. Every other 3D movie before this could be watched in 2D without missing much. You might be confused by how many objects inexplicably explode or are thrust toward you, but you won’t be missing out on any of the story. Gravity is unique because utilizing 3D engages you with the setting, characters, and story like no other movie ever has.

The movie opens and the scene is set with a disclaimer that makes every physics-loving, Star-Wars-disproving, movie nerd giddy:

At 372 miles above Earth, temperatures range from 250˚F to -150˚F. There is nothing to transmit sound. No atmospheric pressure. No oxygen. Life in space is impossible.

As this and the title screen are displayed, a soft melodic orchestral tune slowly crescendos into a volume that no doubt tests the limits of Dolby Digital sound, and then BAM… complete silence. You are thrown into space with a beautiful view of Earth – pristine blue oceans, enormous swirling clouds. The eerie silence and the intense realism of depth from 3D effects genuinely make you feel like you are in space (not like I know from first hand experience, but I’ve geeked out on space books a time or two).

Kid being dumb in space

Are you insane, child?!? Put your helmet back on before the blood vessels in your eyeballs rupture!

Director Alfonso Cuarón wanted the movie to have the feel of an IMAX documentary, and, let me tell you, he does such a fantastic job employing IMAX 3D (or RealD 3D) and Dolby Digital sound to depict space. A pitfall with 3D movies is that the polarized sunglasses you have to wear make everything so dark, which actually works well with a movie that takes place in space (and Tron). Being in a dark and silent theatre, the 3D effect of astronauts, space shuttles, debris, and Sandra Bullock’s buttocks coming toward you and floating by make you experience the antigravity and desolation of space.

Bullock's buttocks

Other women considered for this role were Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts, Abbie Cornish, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, and Olivia Wilde. All winners.

Now, if only theaters could install some refrigeration and heating elements to get the temperature accurate. Space is beautiful as George Clooney’s character, Matt Kowalski, routinely points out, but Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan Stone, says it even more perfectly with, “I hate space!” The epitome of disparity, space is excruciatingly hot and agonizingly cold, blindingly bright and frighteningly dark, full of countless stars and utter emptiness. Without 3D, viewers could not experience the setting of Gravity the way it was perfectly and meticulously planned to be experienced.

The cast list for Gravity is quite small, but the actors are huge. Both George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are Academy Award winning actors. There may be other movies that were made “explicitly for 3D,” but none of them have a lineup like Gravity. The only other character you ever “see” is some guy named Shariff, who engages in tomfoolery and then the first time you actually see his face it looks like this:

Image

Beckoning back to his Apollo 13 days, Ed Harris is one of the mission control voices. The voices go silent pretty early on in movie, and we are left with Matt (George Clooney) and Ryan (Sandra Bullock) in what appears will be a buddy film about two astronauts trying to find their way home in space but find love instead. Clooney does an extraordinary job portraying the veteran astronaut, who can’t shut up, remains clear headed and logical, has a sense of humor, and is determined to break the space walk record. Bullock brilliantly plays a first timer in space complete with anxiety, self doubt, confidence, intelligence, stupidity, and a great buttocks. The emptiness of space reveals the depth (double meaning?) of Matt and Ryan. Matt isn’t only the hunky, loquacious, egomaniac astronaut; he is also a rational, self-sacrificing adventurer. Ryan isn’t just the blue or brown eyed, stubborn medical engineer; she is also an emotional, ambitious ex-single mother. The characters drive this movie. Being that the layman has never explored space, there is nothing else the audience can relate to besides the characters. With the 3D effect, the magnitude of space in the backdrop forces you to focus on the comparatively small characters right in front of you, and Clooney and Bullock hit it out of the park like no other actors have ever done in a 3D movie.

Despite the $100,000,000 budget, this movie is extremely simple. The computer effects are by no means simple, but the story is. To sum it up in a tweet I’d say:

Debris in space causes 2 astronauts trouble. 1 sacrifices so the other can make it back to Earth

Dang. Is that it? I still have 44 characters left, so I guess I would include this short link: http://dailym.ai/1bI02oR. You can tell right from the get go that something is going to go horribly wrong. Ryan is installing some motherboard looking things to the exterior of a space shuttle. Her vitals are all messed up, and mission control won’t stop giving her grief about it. Meanwhile, that joker Shariff is tethered to the shuttle acting more excited than a toddler in a ball pit. Matt parades around the shuttle with his badass jetpack while playing old country songs (apparently NASA installs iPods in spacesuits) and recounting stories of Bourbon Street. Everyone participates in small talk before mission control suddenly gives an emergency warning: a satellite was destroyed. There is an effect called the Kessler syndrome, which causes a chain reaction with debris in low Earth orbit. Satellite debris is orbiting Earth every 90 minutes wreaking havoc on nearly everything in its way, and it is headed right toward the astronauts. Fast flying, silent junk hammers their space shuttle. Shariff loses a majority of his face, Matt jetpacks the hell out of there, and Ryan launches into a stomach turning, revolving assent into the abyss. She is screaming and deranged. The audience, in turn, sees her point of view. Getting a first person perspective of space in 3D does a number on you. You can feel the emptiness and you feel emptier inside every 360º when you catch a glimpse of Earth. Her oxygen levels are depleting, down to only 8%. Things seem hopeless for Ryan. Then Matt comes to the rescue. Ryan tethers on to him to go for a space cowboy ride as they make their way toward a Russian space station in the distance. It is during this time that Ryan breaks down and becomes hopeless. They are together, but are separated by their spacesuits. Space is no isolated island. They can’t take off their helmets, procreate, and pull a Swiss Family Robinson. This is it. They will die here. Ryan reveals that she had a daughter, who tragically died playing tag at school. Matt comforts her and keeps his cool as they slowly drift toward the space station before the debris orbits back around. They arrive at the space station moments before the debris. After it passes, Ryan and Matt are stuck in a monkeys-in-a-barrel situation.

A Monkeys In A Barrel Situation

Matt forces Ryan to let him stray into space, so she can make it inside the Ruskie space shuttle, which very inconveniently doesn’t have an escape pod for re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. He coaches her along on the radio as she desperately tries to enter the shuttle before succumbing to oxygen deprivation (she is running on CO2 fumes at this point). She makes it inside and immediately strips off her suit (this is when you see her buttocks). After catching her breath, she seeks out a radio to try to contact Matt. No luck. She is in this alone now. Matt’s last bit of advice was to take the Russian shuttle to a nearby Chinese station where she would find an escape pod to Earth. A real thriller, at this point in the movie, you want to think she will make it back home, but you would not be surprised if she were to die alone in space. After having contact with some Chinese guy with a radio, dog, and baby on Earth, she becomes delirious. She shuts off her oxygen, which induces a hallucination where Matt returns, drinks some imaginary vodka, gives her hope, and is overall charming. Ryan snaps back to reality and continues toward her Chinese ticket back to Earth. In another thrilling action sequence, she silently uses a fire extinguisher à la Wall-E to reach the space station. She pulls the classic button smashing technique to somehow make the Chinese escape pod burst through Earth’s atmosphere. She lands in some unfamiliar water surrounded by green mountains. For one last shuddering moment, the pod sinks. The viewer sinks with it, “Great, she made it this far and is going to drown?” But after this crazy ride, there is no way Cuarón would let it end that way. She escapes and floats to the shore. Then she looks to her left and sees the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand. Kidding. Or am I? You’ll have to see for yourself. So simple, yet so engaging. I don’t see how that simple of a story could have been as captivating as it was without the perfect use of 3D to set the stage and wonderful actors to portray the characters.

It is no surprise that Gravity broke the October box office record with its $55 million opening weekend beating out such Oscar worthy competitors as Paranormal Activity 3, Jackass 3-D, and Scary Movie 3 (that’s a whole lotta 3). This movie merits the praise it received as the 3D movie. You could probably watch Gravity in 2D, but I have no idea why you would. Gravity perfects 3D making space feel all too real, which takes the romanticism of it away. Instead of the great unknown with endless possibilities, it is the great unknown where life is impossible. 3D effects give some people nausea, but, in Gravity, the intensity of the story is enough to cause nausea. Fellow Stupid Opinions writer, Carl Wells, suggested you watch this movie with a beer. I would not recommend that at all; you want a clear head for this one. With all the edge of your seat thrills, I suggest a Xanax. Then drink a beer after the movie to settle your nerves and revel in the fact that seeing Gravity is about as close as you will ever have to get to space.

Gravity Isn’t Just a Good Idea, It’s The Law.

5 Oct

Here’s my no spoiler review of Gravity. I had to go see Gravity the first day it came out because all the previews made it look so different and gorgeous and suspenseful and I didn’t want to hear what anybody else thought about it before I saw it. I also had to see it in IMAX 3D because I am a sucker for the 3D gimmick but also because the director Alfonso Cuarón said he specifically designed this movie to be viewed that way. Of course that’s what all the movie people say in order to get customers to shell out the extra cash for IMAX 3D tickets, but I trust that when Alfonso Cuarón says something he means it. I decided to go to a matinee show at the only IMAX 3D screen nearby that also serves beer. Because I also felt this movie had been specifically designed to be enjoyed with a beer. So as to slightly mimic the light headed, disoriented feelings the characters experienced in space, even if the director hadn’t bothered to mention that part. (I should point out that I feel like 98% of movies are meant to be enjoyed with beer, at least that’s my excuse.) Anyway getting back to Gravity, in short; it is out of this world! Pun intended. Did you know that “Pun intended” is itself a pun on “unintended”? pretty dorky huh? Don’t worry no more puns in this post because as it was said on the Simpsons “Don’t use puns, that’s just lazy writing.”

Gravity

I loved Gravity and you should go see it, here are some of the reasons why. It is eyeball-burstingly beautiful, every frame is so crisp and clean and detailed. The background of the Earth and sky is dramatic I could just watch them by themselves. The Earth is HUGE and ever-changing; with hurricanes, cities at night speckling the surface, and Aurora borealis all drifting below. It continuously provides a dynamic backdrop for the character’s story. Another thing I like is that the movie takes it’s time to let you soak in all the visuals with very long static shots of the characters just floating by. In fact every shot in this movie is long, there were maybe less than a 100 cuts in the whole movie (most movies have well over 1,000). In Gravity the point of view is always tilting, panning, and smoothly moving in and around the action, it is a great story telling tool. By keeping cuts to a minimum you can really relate to the freedom and isolation of space and it also keeps it easy for the viewer to position where orbiting objects are in relation to each other. If it was just cut, cut, cut, it would be easy to lose the placement of everything. I hate that style of just cutting to add action, it is a relief to see a movie where suspense is built up in one continuous shot. The special effects it took to create these camera moves are unlink anything I’ve seen. You know that the Space shuttle and Space stations are a lot of computer graphics and stuff but everything looks so real. Technically speaking this film is magical.

But what about the story? The story is kept very basic and simple, which I like, and is mostly a survival story. The whole movie takes place in space and is told almost in real time. I can tell you that while the previews looked like they showed the best parts of the movie let me assure you they don’t. The collision sequences in space gave me goose bumps because they are utterly horrifying with surprises the previews left out. There are some equally troubling scenes that take place inside a spacecraft too, which just illustrates that you’re never out of danger in space. I’ve heard people criticize the preview’s  portrayal of Sandra Bullock’s character as the typical damsel in distress who can’t hold her shit together. While that may apply to the previews, Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie is her own hero and pulls her shit together in a big way. I’m as surprised as anyone I just complimented Sandra Bullock’s job in a movie, but she’s good in this. While it’s her story, George Clooney provides some great contrast as the veteran astronaut who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s the only other character, so there’s a lot he has to do; provide exposition, humor, encouragement (not romance, thank god) and I can’t think of anyone else who would’ve been better cast.

Gravity 2

Summing up, you don’t have to have gone to space camp as a kid, like I did, to enjoy Gravity. It is a very relatable human story that takes place in space but isn’t so much about space as about the will to live. But in case you did go to Space Camp and/or just want to geek out, almost everything in this movie is accurate if you don’t nit-pick details. It is far out and intense, but if you want a beer check to see when the theater starts serving. I went to a Noon show and they wouldn’t serve beer until 3pm. What is this Nazi Germany? Shame on you for not taking more of my money. Proving even if you’re sober the movie is still great.

Carl Wells