Tag Archives: 3D

A Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy

4 Aug

I’ve expressed before that I do have a bias against comic book movies. So when I heard about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie a few months back I immediately diagnosed it as another desperate attempt to milk a forgotten comic book franchise. On the surface it looks like an Avengers rip off just with more corny gags. As more trailers came out I decided it was probably one of those movies that’s bad, but still entertaining, if you turn off parts of your brain. When I received a coupon good for Guardians of the Galaxy in IMAX 3D for free I remembered a quote from Roger Ebert “It’s hard to explain the fun to be found in seeing the right kind of bad movie.” (especially if its free). Since two bad movies came out this week, both wildly popular I thought I’d compare them and show the differences between a movie that is so bad it’s good (Guardians of the Galaxy) and a movie that’s just plain awfully bad (Sharknado 2). But you know what? I actually really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy and not because it was entertainingly bad, it’s a legitimately fun movie. So fuck Sharknado and its race to the bottom. I’m not going to waste time and energy analyzing Syfy’s recent attempt to reach the stupidest place on TV. Let’s see why Guardians of the Galaxy is the perfect end to the summer blockbuster season.

GoG

Guardians of the Galaxy is a comic book movie but to me its way more science fiction. Not that hard science fiction but more in the tone of an edgy cartoon with space ships and Star Trek type aliens. Its also an adventure movie and a comedy. Most movies who try to blend this many genres fail but this time it works great. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t take itself too seriously so there’s no opening narration, drawn out origin stories, or long exposition scenes. It just kind of throws you in the deep end of this universe and takes off from there. This approach benefits the two types of audience members seeing this movie. If you’re someone who read the comic books you already know the setting and the cultures of the different characters and their backgrounds so you don’t need that information regurgitated again. If you are like me and have no idea what the deal is with Guardians of the Galaxy it forces you to pay attention to the characters and the action on the screen. This gets you more invested in the story than any information dump via voice over or flashbacks ever could.

Rocket the Raccoon

The ensemble cast creates a wacky comradery that’s very entertaining to watch. Chris Pratt whose known for being on Parks and Rec plays the main character Peter Quill codename Star Lord “It’s cool to have a codename, its not that weird”. I think that Peter Quill is so cocky and comfortable being inappropriate that you can’t play this character unless you’re naturally like that. Having never watched Parks and Rec I can still tell that Pratt is an authentic Quill, not counting the 60 pounds the filmmakers made him lose to get the role. Zoe Saldana is the go to girl if you’re making a sci-fi movie, this time playing the green skinned Gamora she’s right at home. The very strange walking, talking tree, Groot is voiced by Vin Diesel who I loathe, luckily all he ever says is “I am Groot”. Not since Matt Damon in Team America have I heard a better three syllable catch phrase. Rocket the Raccoon, the best one in the bunch is voiced by Bradley Cooper. The previews make the raccoon seem too over the top and silly but it works in the movie. It’s some of Bradley Cooper’s best work, I was really impressed, he should voice more animated characters. Then there’s Drax who doesn’t understand metaphors. These five round out the ragtag group of ne’re-do-wells that make up The Guardians of the Galaxy.

There’s two ways to approach the plot of this movie. The first is that there’s a big bad blue guy who I know is bad because he says so and we see him kill one person. He wants to destroy planet Nova for some reason and he’s working for an even bigger badder guy named Thanos. I know maybe four things about comics and one of them is that Thanos is bad. I don’t know why he’s bad or what he’s done or wants to do, this movie could’ve explained that but nope. Anyway it throws a bunch of comic book tropes at us about a collector, and a power crystal, and I wasn’t really paying attention. Because the second way to approach the plot is to appreciate how it is basically just setting up scenarios for our heroes to fight their way out of. This movie is about action, snappy dialog, and humor. Paying too much attention to the story reveals all the holes and you’ll miss the excitement.

Gog2

The real reason I loved this movie is because it’s chock full of delicious nutritious eye candy. Every shot is so richly detailed there’s; space ships, lasers, console displays, rocket thrusters, nebulae, tech, aliens, robots, shields, cybernetics and it keeps going. There’s also this retro style, like if science fiction of the 70’s and 80’s had better visual effects. Even the costumes, makeup, and hair is retro futuristic, you get to see Merle from Walking Dead as a gold toothed, aqua, space pirate and a quasi-futuristic Glenn Close (how’d they get her in this movie, oh right, gobs of money). The soundtrack of nostalgic pop songs you remember from the 80’s provides a wacky contrast to the spacey spectacle on the screen. It’s not perfect but this movie is so much fun and embraces the corny moments and Pratt falls (pun intended) knowing full well what it’s doing. See this movie for all the right reasons and be happy.

 

Carl Wells

Edge of Tommorow, Reviewed Today

7 Jun

Edge of Tomorrow has an amazing trailer and lots of good press but it didn’t need those to convince me to see it. I’m not an avid Tom Cruise fan but I think he’s in his element doing sci-fi, maybe that’s because according to some people he’s actually an alien. I don’t believe he’s an alien but I do believe that if he’s in a sci-fi movie with Emily Blunt I’m seeing it. Edge of Tomorrow is based on a Japanese novel titled All You Need is Kill. Don’t worry I didn’t read the book so I won’t be griping about how the book was better. What I will say about All You Need Is Kill is that on a 1 to 10 scale measuring title awesomeness that’s an 11. Why didn’t they call the movie that? Any movie with the title “All You Need Is Kill” is automatically better.

Edge of Tomorrow

Due to how this movie was marketed everybody pretty much knows what to expect from The Edge of Tomorrow. Something the trailer leaves out made me go “Holy Cow, Bill Paxton is in this movie.” He was the best surprise in the movie, other than that, audiences already know the story. Basically Tom Cruise is a fish out of water who’s shoved into a military exoskeleton battle suit and dropped into an alien combat zone. The visuals start off great, it’s like the beginning of Saving Private Ryan where troops assault a beach while taking an onslaught of incoming fire. Its gritty, chaotic, loud, and brutal, only this time there’s slightly futuristic tech warfare involved. Witnessing crashing airships and soldiers twitch in malfunctioning battle armor we know Tom Cruise is a sitting duck. The movie is great at generating that feeling of being exposed, confused, and paranoid, just like Tom’s character. As for the aliens they’re called “Mimics” for reasons I can’t explain since they don’t mimic anything. They kind of look like mechanical cat o 9 tails with dreadlocks and just pop out of the ground randomly and kill you. They could be mimicking antlions I guess. Regardless we never learn what their intentions or motivations are, just that they’re here, they’re bad, get used to it.

It’s not long before a mimic sets its sights on Tom and pounces and they both exchange bodily fluids while dying in an explosion. Tom wakes up the day before he goes into battle remembering what happened / will happen and we get into the main concept of this movie “Live, Die, Repeat”. As Tom accumulates deaths he builds up skills, like outsmarting his commanding officer Bill Paxton who’s portrayal of a stubborn hard ass gets funnier and funnier with each iteration. Tom contacts Emily Blunt’s character Rita whose reputation “Full Metal Bitch” precedes her. She’s a highly decorated military hero who won a previous battle with the mimics inspiring hope for victory in the war. Emily Blunt was spot-on in the movie Looper so I know she can do sci-fi but in Edge of Tomorrow she’s even more impressive. She is a tough no nonsense soldier who kicks ass and never gives up. Emily Blunt makes it easy to sympathize with her character as someone who has lost so much because of this war she’s determined to win at all costs. She’s a merciless ally training Tom Cruise, every time he screws up she shoots him in the head to “reset”. That’s funny too, especially on repeat.

Mimick

This movie is getting compared to the comedy classic Groundhog Day. Okay. But I suggest that Groundhog day is more like Bill Murray living in a rerun of a TV show. While Edge of Tomorrow is Tom Cruise battling aliens until he dies then restarting, which makes it parallel a video game. This is what I find interesting, because I predict we’ll see a trend of video game type movies in the near future. Not movies based off specific video games but movies that use the aesthetics of video games as tools to tell their story. Tom starts with certain goals he has to achieve like learning how to turn off the gun’s safety then dies. Then he re-spawns turns the safety off and sets another goal to work for until he dies. Just like a video game there’s a specific pattern to be learned and once you learn it you repeat the same actions to get to a new situation or level. This replicates some of the fun of playing a video game while also allowing the movie to make fun of itself by having Tom Cruise in on the joke, he knows all the smart ass comments and beats everyone to the punchline. Another thing that makes this movie different from Groundhog Day and keeps it from being too much like a video game is that the ability to reset can be turned off if you’re not careful and can be subverted by the Mimics if they find out you have it. So the resets don’t get boring because this might be the last time it happens.

This movie had a fun concept, a great beginning, and a strong middle, where you learn about the characters and get to watch them grow and pursue different strategies for victory. This often involved lots of fighting between battle suits and aliens and guns and explosions and even a car chase scene. But toward the end of the movie I was very disappointed. Most of the movie looked fantastic except for some shaky-cam here and there. But the end of the movie is very dark so you already have a hard time seeing what’s happening, then it goes full out goddamn shaky-cam, just one long vertigo inducing motion blur. I can’t stand that shaky shit, its only purpose is causing headaches. But that’s what you get from the director of the Bourne movies. I can’t imagine how awful and painful it would’ve been to see the last 15 minutes of this movie in 3D, luckily I didn’t.

 

Carl Wells

X-Men Past and Present Movie Review

31 May

You’re probably expecting me to rant about how much I hate comic book movies just on principal. Then go into nit-picking detail about how parts of X-Men Days of Future Past make no sense. Assuming I have a bias against all comicbook movies is fair, because I do. Except, Surprise I actually like the X-Men movie franchise. I proudly admit to never reading a single comicbook (too busy reading real books) but I loved the ueber 90’s X-Men cartoon. That’s what introduced me to the characters and the themes of X-Men, so while I’m most definitely not an expert, I know more about the X-Men world than some.

Xmen 2000

The first two X-men movies were directed by Bryan Singer and they gave me almost everything I wanted out of an X-Men movie. After that Brett Ratner came along and took a big douchey piss all over the only comicbook movies I liked with X-Men The Last Stand. Seriously, how could someone screw up so much? The first two movies made bank, were loved by fans, and spoon fed a perfect set-up for how the third X-Men should go. Instead our favorite characters die needlessly or lose their powers and the Phoenix we expected was grounded and subverted, then killed. The Last Stand ruined the X-Men name so much they stooped to doing prequels under the rebranded “Wolverine” title. Those movies were pointless and awful too, even for people who appreciate Wolverine as a main character. I respect Hugh Jackman and all but five Wolverine movies was too much, Logan is a much better side character. That’s why when X-Men First Class came out I delighted in how it wasn’t about Wolverine. That was one of many things X-Men First Class finally got right. I liked how the X-Men tied into historical events. The recasting was spot on with James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon was outstanding. First Class had flaws but it turned the franchise in the right direction.

Bryan Singer returns to direct X-Men Days of Future Past. If anyone can save this franchise it’ll be the director who built it. The title is the dumbest part of this movie, “But Carl that’s what the comic is called.” Well, then it has a dumb title too. Bryan Singer further breaks X-Men’s film continuity and gets away with it. For example there’s flashbacks containing scenes from the first three movies. That means Days of Future Past acknowledges that those movies are valid parts of the whole story and thus accepted canon. Then why does Magneto have his powers back? Hell. Why is Professor X even alive? Answer: Continuity Schmontinuity, I’m just happy to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart onscreen. The X-men film continuity was already wrecked anyway, it’s almost a defining feature of the series. It would be strange if Days of Future Past didn’t have its own continuity quirks.

Xmen days of future past

Unfortunately this movie is Wolverine’s perspective again, this time in two time periods. The first; a post-war future where a squad of X-Men fight and evade the sentinels trying to exterminate them. To people who’ve only watched the movies, some of these new mutants are unfamiliar and we’re spared their origin stories (thank God). I really enjoyed seeing them all use their powers to work together as a team and fight the upgraded sentinels. There’s this girl Blink who creates these wormhole portals to teleport people, those portals look so cool in 3D. Looking through them you see different angles, vanishing points, one character in 2 different locations, they look amazing. However Blink doesn’t seem to notice she’s the best weapon against the unstoppable sentinels. A sentinel reaches an arm through a portal, and it closes, severing the arm. All Blink has to do is create portals around the sentinels then close them around their waste or neck, poof, dead. Well that’s too easy so they resort to having Kitty Pryde use her power to go back in time a couple days to avoid defeat.

That’s where Wolverine, repowered Magneto, and resurrected Professor X come in. They decide to send Wolverine back to the 70’s to stop the war before it begins. It’s nice to see how the young characters contrast their future selves. Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is angrier at humanity. While Professor X is walking around with lots of hair on his face. Speaking of hair, Peter Dinklage is rocking some epic 70’s hair and porn moustache. He’s the target of Mystique who’s gone rogue, shape-shifting all over the place, only showing her true self when she’s about to kick some ass. Her legs are her main weapon and of all the ways to die, being killed by Jennifer Lawrence’s legs aren’t a bad way to go. The 70’s are just more fun, there’s pop culture references like Star Trek and making fun of Nixon and his tape recorder. There’s a super speed mutant named “Quicksilver” who steals every scene he’s in. It’s nostalgic going back to the school for gifted students and hearing the door to Cerebro unlock with a “Welcome Professor”. But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in the 70’s there’s plenty of fighting and the climax of the 70’s storyline coincides with the climax of the future storyline and is very well edited to maximize the action.

X-Men Days of Future Past might be the best movie I’ve seen all year and could be my favorite film in the X-Men franchise . There’s always something people can gripe about, like how it left out an important character, or realizing that Kitty Pryde would’ve had to sit motionless for days on end to keep Logan in the past that long. I’m sure fans of the comics have loads of issues with it. Nevertheless, the movie’s 131 minute run time is so entertaining it’s easy to overlook these little snags. Best of all, it negates Brett Ratner’s abysmal X-Men 3 like it never happened and I know we all can appreciate that.

 

Carl Wells

Look it’s GODZILLA The Movie Review

26 May

When I discovered a reboot of Godzilla was being made, it triggered a flashback. Suppressed memories of that wretched movie Roland Emmerich sold as “Godzilla” resurfaced. I recalled the childish Siskel and Ebert insults, the scientist testing an asexual mutated lizard with home pregnancy tests, the Puff Daddy theme song, it was awful. That’s the first Godzilla movie I’d ever seen in theaters, so upon discovering there was soon to be another, I groaned in disappointment. Then I realized there’s no way this new movie could possibly be worse than that 1998 atrocity, and kept an open mind. I’ve seen the last half of the American black and white classic Godzilla, as well as clips and segments from various Japanese movies, like Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla. So I am familiar with the lore and have come to expect certain things. This was my first opportunity to see Godzilla in 3D, so I ponied up a couple extra bucks for the 3D, since it was a cheap matinee show during the week. This is how I go to movies, middle of the day, middle of the week. There’s only ever like 11 people there so you can chat with friends without being shushed by the people around you.

Godzilla movie poster

At this point someone seeing Godzilla outta know what it’s basically about. I don’t feel like I’ll be giving anything away but I’ll try not to spoil the few pleasant surprises the movie has. This incarnation of Godzilla has just enough awesome moments to pull you through the illogical nonsense that constitutes the bulk of the film. Like any good monster movie Godzilla starts out by addressing the problems of nuclear radiation. Bryan Cranston works at a Japanese nuclear power plant, his readouts indicate there’s trouble a coming. Who knew Bryon Cranston speaking intense Japanese would be so funny? His wife played by Juliette Binoche works there too. She’s in the wrong place when the shaking starts and they seal up her section to contain leaking radiation. She dies in the first 5 minutes, this movie coulda used more Juliette Binoche, hell most movies could. Having an earthquake cause a meltdown at a Japanese nuclear plant might cause people to grumble “too soon”. Remember it’s just a movie, at least there isn’t a tsunami sequence showing debris of cars, buildings, and people being washed up the coasts of Japan…that happens in Hawaii. Bryan Cranston sneaks back to the quarantined site decades later and learns that there’s a giant cocoon “feeding on radiation” in the remnants of the old plant. The scientist studying it cause it to hatch and a giant surprise comes out. Breaking Bad fans hoping for a showdown between Heisenberg and Godzilla better brace themselves. Cranston dies and with him goes the last interesting human character of the film, that’s okay this movie is about huge monsters.

We’re left with Bryan’s grown son Ford (actual name) if you close your eyes Ford has the voice of an old lady. Ford is in the military which is fighting the monster, sort of. The whole way this movie handles the military is very confusing, they don’t know what to do about Godzilla and when they do it makes no sense. Nuclear bomb tests in the 50’s were actually failed attempts to kill Godzilla. The scientist now says a new monster called “Muto” is the real problem, Mutos feed on radiation and Godzilla preys on Mutos. It’s nature’s way of maintaining balance, that’s why we couldn’t kill Godzilla in the 50’s. So Navy ships are escorting Godzilla to intercept the Mutos, when they do the military plans to bomb all three at once, or something I don’t care about. I just want to see monsters destroying things. On the list of impossible things that would never happen, I do hope if there was some mythical creature that eats up radiation, humanity would have the good sense to not kill it. Instead the military plans to detonate a nuclear bomb to kill three radiation fueled beasts. I don’t know if the movie is trying to be funny with this ridiculousness, same goes for when Ford points his pistol at the 300 foot goliath staring him down, sure buddy that’ll stop it. The worst part is when Ford the “bomb specialist” can’t defuse his own bomb because of a piece of cracked glass mounted over the timer.

Godzilla Bridge

Despite its many problems I still enjoyed Godzilla, here’s why. Godzilla stories are supposed to be over the top and silly. Godzilla is about destruction on an epic scale, we got that, especially since the monsters have their own special weaponry. Godzilla has got some really great suspenseful moments, the beginning scene in the nuclear plant kicks up the pace nice and early. There’s a great scene in Hawaii where Ford is on a train and the power goes out, after a while the lights come back on and Muto is on the tracks ahead of them, everybody is already panicking, then the train starts moving forward again, I thought “Here we go”. There’s just enough fun scenes that are so well put together, and look spectacular that it holds your attention through all the petty human drama. The real strength in this movie is that for all his power and terror Godzilla is who you cheer for. By the end I thought Godzilla was more like a big overgrown kid who didn’t know his own strength. The film only skipped two monster movie clichés I really wanted to see; Japanese people fleeing in horror yelling “Run, it’s Godzilla!”. And having a scientist look up, slowly take off his glasses, and dramatically say “My God”. Other than that Godzilla delivers everything you could want. My interest in Godzilla is renewed and am actually watching Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah on cable as I type this.

 

Carl Wells

The Lego Movie Review

14 Feb

You have to admit than when looking at previous movies that were based off of toys, they were all pretty obvious attempts to just cash in on the merchandising value those toy brands had built up during the past few decades. Looking at the track record let’s remember Transformers and G.I. Joe both had cartoon shows whose only purpose was to make kids want to buy more of their action figures. Once these kids had grown into better consumers Hollywood corporate bean counters figured they could once again sell Transformers and G.I. Joe repackaged as a movie title , even if the movies themselves are just a CG pile of stupid. So when I heard that the next toy to get a Hollywood makeover would be Legos, I wasn’t optimistic and expected another 90 minute commercial. But a mixture of curiosity for how bad could it get mixed with a little hope that they might make something fun got me to buy a ticket. Being on the fence going in I didn’t consider it a good sign that the 3D glasses the movie theater gave me had “The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey” printed on them. You know when the theater is unloading stuff they’ve sat on for 14 months they’re really pulling out all the stops to make sure you have the best experience possible. I skipped the Popcorn, figuring it also was probably from the Django Unchained opening weekend.

 Lego Moive

Five minutes after the start of The Lego Movie it had already won me over. I could tell that it wasn’t trying to be a cheap gimmick or lazy money grab and that it was going to embrace the unique charm of living up to being “The Lego Movie”. It also reminded me a little bit of Team America (easily in my Top 5 favorite movies ever) not just because it used inanimate objects to tell its story but because it derived humor out of the limitations of these objects. Team America’s puppets couldn’t dance or fight or walk, Lego people can’t bend their elbows and have claw hands so watching the characters trying to maneuver around is awkward and funny. Team America made fun of the giant special effects budget movies by having all their special effects done with miniatures and fishing line and cheap small scale explosives. The Lego Movie rendered everything in plastic; the clouds, water, smoke, lasers, gunfire flashes and explosions are all just Lego pieces, no Industrial Light and Magic needed (Yes I realize most of the movie was in fact CG and not stop motion animation with Lego but you get my point). Team America also made sure to point out all the required elements an action movie needs like a ticking clock and a montage. The Lego Movie makes use of calling story elements what they are, the main character is “The Special” his secret weapon is “The Piece of Resistance” etc. By making plot devices so apparent it is funny and also keeps things simple so you can just sit back and enjoy the blocky beauty of Lego world.

 Lego Movie 2

This movie works really hard to be everything you want it to and it shows. The previews don’t do justice to what this movie looks like, in the clips the Lego world seems like a bunch of kids with ADHD have been drinking Red Bull and snapping Lego sets together then throwing them at one each other. Watching the actual movie isn’t nearly as chaotic as the trailers make it look. What I like is that they are embracing the full legoness look of everything. The Spaceman from the 1980’s set has a broken helmet, just like mine did. People’s heads rotate 360 degrees and can be pulled off and reattached to other things. There are so many Lego based visual site-gags going on in the background I know I missed a few. In fact this movie has so many jokes in it period. Luckily there weren’t any of those jokes that are “for the parents” because kids won’t get the subtle sexual hidden double meaning of the dialog. I just think that’s too easy to do in a G movie, it takes real wit to make an adult and a kid laugh at the same gag, or maybe my sense of humor is more immature than I think it is. The adult themed humor here is geared more toward making fun of pop-culture, like how expensive franchise coffee is and how pop music is overproduced and repetitive. Parents be warned you will not be able to get your kids to stop singing “Everything is awesome”. Even knowing it is a spoof song I still have it stuck in my head cause it is so damn catchy.

I didn’t even mention the casting which uses Morgan Freeman perfectly and keeps Will Ferrell in a supporting role where he belongs and Will Arnett’s Batman steals every scene he’s in, there’s some nice surprise voices, like Charlie Day and Liam Neeson to keep an ear for out too. Summing up, this is not the Blockbuster that uses a toy in the title to sell you a movie of crap. The Lego Movie cleverly spoofs other toy Blockbusters while at the same time being the toy Blockbuster we always wanted. This movie made me happy from beginning to end.

Carl Wells

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

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.