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Gravity (3D Blu-ray Review)

21 Feb, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 2/25/14
Sci-Fi Thriller
Box Office $268.17 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.
Stars Sandra Bullock, George Clooney.

It may not have the same impact that watching it on a giant movie screen might have, but the Blu-ray of Gravity is still a tremendous viewing experience. Director Alfonso Cuarón (who co-wrote the film with his son, Jonás), imagines a scenario for a potential space disaster, then turns up the dial so that almost everything that can go wrong does. It’s like Apollo 13 on steroids, minus the being based on actual events part.

That isn’t to say the circumstances aren’t entirely implausible. The Blu-ray includes a 22-minute documentary about the phenomenon of space junk, the debris left in orbit from inactive satellites, used rocket parts and bits and pieces tossed out during missions. This debris field makes orbital navigation a tricky prospect and has even taken out a satellite or two.

It’s not quite at the level of the rapidly moving debris cloud taking out every shuttle and space station in its way depicted in the film, but it doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the future of space travel, either.

Scientific inaccuracies aside, Cuarón’s film is a highly symbolic, visually striking metaphor for the rebirth of mankind, represented by the journey of Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Stone, who finds herself stranded all alone in space in search of a means of getting back to Earth.

The 3D effects add a nice texture to the viewing experience, although it certainly isn’t necessary to enjoy the film on a poetic level.

Much of the visual language is spelled out in the bonus materials, including 107 minutes of making-of featurettes and another 37 minutes devoted to breaking down specific scenes. It’s kind of surprising to learn just how much of the film utilized CGI to achieve the space shots, but it makes sense in retrospect. The film’s visual architecture is so well thought out there’s even an ingenious site gag that’s a nod to a common filmmaking mistake of seeing the camera in a reflective surface.

In another clever bit of filmmaking, Cuarón made a short film that presents a radio conversation between Stone and someone on Earth from the point of view of the arctic fisherman with whom Stone was speaking. The seven-minute short reinforces the film’s themes of isolation and is available on the Blu-ray with an optional but recommended introduction by Cuarón.

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