Gravity (2013)

Clear Skies With a Chance of Satellite Debris.

Gravity (2013)In my film criticism class, my professor practically beat us over the head with today’s movie.  Every day he would ask us if we had seen it yet.  The first time he asked us was probably the first I had heard about this movie.  It was just such a bland title and I had no real interest in the people starring in the movie.  But after a few weeks of this questioning, I felt like I just needed to see what all the hubbub was about.  And that’s what led me to see Gravity, written by Jonás Cuarón, co-written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Paul Sharma, and Orto Ignatiussen.

The crew of the Space Shuttle Explorer – veteran astronaut Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), flight engineer Shariff Dasari (Paul Sharma), and first-timer Mission Specialist Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) – are on a routine mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope when an unexpected Russian mission strike on a defunct satellite starts a chain reaction of debris that heads straight for the Explorer.  When the debris reaches the Explorer, Shariff is killed and Dr. Stone is sent hurtling out into space, but Kowalski manages to recover her before it’s too late.  But their troubles are not over.  Their only hope is to make it to a Space Station and use its module to return to earth, but oxygen and fuel on Kowalski’s thruster pack is cutting their time window very close.

Okay.  I kind of see what the teacher was going on about.  This movie was very well done, but I wouldn’t actually put much stock into the story.  It was a pretty basic survival story.  IN SPACE!  But since they kept the story basic, I really couldn’t find that many issues with it.  The only issues I took were with the things that probably exist in real life that they used in the story.  Like fuck those Russians for starting all this shit in the first place.  You couldn’t give America a phone call just as a heads up?  I also take issue with whoever designed the doors on the space stations.  I understand there’s probably some pressure reason for them to fire open as fast as they do, but don’t you think it might be a little dangerous to have something fling open so fast in an area where people cannot stop themselves from travelling infinitely in a direction they are flung?  There simply must be hinge technology available that can reduce that potential problem.  There were also a few parts to the story I felt were unnecessary, such as Dr. Stone’s entire interaction with Aningaaq over the radio.  It also made me mad that these people wouldn’t just start speaking American like good, civilized folk!  They also had a little reveal with Kowalski as Stone was going unconscious at one point later in the movie that I wasn’t entirely shocked by as it seemed they had intended.

The real reason to see this movie is entirely how it was presented, and the credit should go to Alfonso Cuarón.  It’s gripping almost the entire way through.  At first I found myself worried by the fact that the camera movements were so disorienting and nauseating, but I imagine being in space would actually be pretty disorienting and nauseating.  I also noticed that they barely used sound in the movie, but then I remembered that in space no one can hear your soundtrack.  That’s a classic cliché!  There was one time that they played some music, and it kind of made me laugh, but that also might have been the relief I was feeling by that point.  It’s when Dr. Stone is standing up near the end of the movie.  The music they play (and how they film it) makes the simple act of standing up look so epic, but it kind of was by that point.  I then realized that I was being disoriented and nauseated from the edge of my seat, because that’s where the movie kept me.  Everything was a close call and a brush with death, and on more than one occasion they did more than get brushed by death.  They kissed death straight on the mouth.  If you were able to peel yourself from the moment long enough to look around, the movie was also very beautiful.  The Earth was in the background of most scenes, and looking at the aurora borealis (or whichever aurora they showed) from above was very beautiful.

The performances in this movie are another reason it works so well.  This is by far the best thing I’ve ever seen Sandra Bullock in, and I’ve seen Demolition Man!  But she really kissed this movie’s ass!  She was really good.  Granted, she mainly just had to be scared a lot, but she did that very well.  The only issue I took with her was that she perhaps gave up on trying to save someone in the movie a little too easily.  George Clooney was also very pleasant for what he did in the movie.  It really was more the Sandra Bullock show.  And that is it!  This has got to be the most limited cast movie I’ve ever seen.  This movie had a couple of other people involved in the cast, but most of them were voice only and the movie would’ve worked just as well without them.

Gravity is a fantastic movie.  The story is basic, but who cares because I was riveted the entire time with a nervousness I’ve scarcely felt for a movie I’m fully aware is completely fake.  This is not a movie for the weak-hearted or the weak-stomached, because I consider myself strong in constitution and even I was a little queasy in this movie.  And Sandra Bullock is better than I’ve ever seen her.  I don’t know if this movie is still in theaters, but if it is I recommend you go see it.  And if it isn’t, just go and buy it when it comes out.  Gravity gets “Either way, it’s going to be one hell of a ride” out of “Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

More of This is True Than You Would Believe.

Today’s movie has been in my Netflix queue for so long that I no longer remember what inspired me to put it there in the first place.  I have a vague recollection of watching part of this movie while in the break room at work and I do so hate to only watch 15 or 30 minutes of a movie and leave without knowing what happened.  Well, however it came to be in my Netflix queue, it arrived recently so I felt I should give it a watch.  That movie is The Men Who Stare at Goats, based on a book by Jon Ronson, written by Peter Straughan, directed by Grant Heslov, and starring Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Lang, Stephen Root, Robert Patrick, Rebecca Mader, Nick Offerman, and Glenn Morshower.

Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) has fallen on some hard times after his wife left him for the newspaper’s editor.  Feeling like he needs an escape, and perhaps a chance to prove himself to his ex-wife, he goes to Kuwait to report on the Iraq War.  While waiting to be granted permission to enter, he stumbles across a man named Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a name that Wilton recognizes from a man he interviewed a little earlier that told him about a group of American soldiers being trained to use their psychic abilities for combat, teaching them things like invisibility, remote viewing, and phasing.  It was rumored that Cassady had even been able to stop a goat’s heart with his thoughts.  Wilton gets Cassady to agree to let him tag along on his mission and, while doing so, Cassady tells Wilton about his time with the New Earth Army through flashbacks.

I’ve come to realize that I just don’t like reviewing movies that are just “okay”.  If a movie is awful, I’ll have lots of things to say making fun of it.  If it’s good, I’ll be able to sing its praises.  But if it’s okay, all I really want to say is, “meh.”  I’ll try to use more words – and real ones – to describe my feelings about this movie.  It’s an okay and pretty interesting movie, based mainly on a pretty well-written story.  Even though a bulk of the movie felt like just riding around in a car with Ewan McGregor and George Clooney, the subject matter kept it interesting, especially if you consider that this stuff was apparently mostly based on true stories.  So with the story being so interesting, what was the problem?  I would say the problem is that this movie was a comedy but not really all that funny.  I would say that the goofiness that they introduce us to during the course of the movie is amusing, but they were never able to climb over the hill and actually strike me as funny.  But since the comedy was never really a failure, it wasn’t painful to watch.  Just not funny.

The cast of the movie was all pretty spectacular, but they got some pretty big names to participate.  Ewan McGregor was the main character of the movie, and he did a good job displaying the range of emotions his character went through during the movie.  He starts off depressed and mopey because of his wife leaving him, then he went to being pretty skeptical of the New Earth Army stories, and he was totally on board by the end of the movie.  I liked that he kept talking to Clooney about the “Jedi Warriors”, as they called themselves, like it was such a ridiculous notion, even though he’s the only one in the movie that actually has been a Jedi warrior before.  I liked Clooney in the movie as well.  He seemed to take the ridiculousness very seriously, which is always a good choice.  Jeff Bridges was also very good as the hippie leader of the New Earth Army, Bill Django, but it also seems like a character that was written with Jeff Bridges in mind.  Kevin Spacey also plays a dick very well, and he did that here.

The Men Who Stare at Goats was a decent enough movie because of its wacky and interesting story and top notch performances.  The problem with the movie is that it was a comedy but it just wasn’t funny.  I would say, to its credit, that it was amusing for the greater majority of the movie, but it just couldn’t crest that ridge into funniness.  It’s worth watching if it’s on, but I wouldn’t say you need to go out of your way for it.  The Men Who Stare at Goats gets “Now more than ever we need the Jedi” out of “He was dying of a broken heart.  And maybe the cancer as well.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.