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GRAVITY
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.4:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 91 Minutes
Release Date: February 25, 2014

You’ve got to learn to let go.”

Film ****

Gravity is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s not the kind of movie that will leave you discussing plot points, quoting dialogue, or even remembering the story…there really isn’t anything along any of those lines.

What it is instead is an experience in pure cinema; a vicarious survival story in which, before long and before we even realize it, we are squarely in the middle of the proceedings.

It’s a masterpiece of direction from Alfonso Cuaron, who has done the impossible and delivered a “space” movie that feels and plays differently from any other we might remember, and he achieves that simply by going for realism over science fiction fantasy.

As mentioned, there is no real story per se, but the film opens up on a trio of astronauts working in space. The earth is almost always visible, meaning the movie isn’t just about space, but about height as well. There is a reason the movie is called Gravity, and with our own planet as a constant frame of reference, we can’t help but think that’s a long way to fall.

When debris from a destroyed satellite comes through (and in space, if a projectile is moving like a bullet, nothing will ever slow it down apart from impact), the routine mission becomes one of survival. I don’t want to give away points, but eventually it is all down to human vs. nature in the most unforgiving, hostile and foreign environment conceivable. If All is Lost showed how unfair a fight between one man and the open sea can be, imagine if that fight were with the vast cold expanse of space.

It’s really difficult to describe the movie in words in a better way than this. I can only mention that when my wife and I saw the movie in its opening weekend, it was a packed house and you could have heard a pin drop in some of the stretches of the film. It really has that kind of power to absorb, engage, and mesmerize.

The movie earned much acclaim and 10 Oscar nominations, all of which were greatly deserved, This is a rare and singular achievement in the modern age of film.

BONUS TRIVIA: The voice of mission control is none other than Ed Harris, adding to his growing résumé of realistic space movies (Apollo 13, The Right Stuff).

Video ****

Seeing this movie in IMAX 3D was quite an experience, and I'm happy to say this presentation from Warner is an amazing duplicate.  This is a film with long, lingering camera shots that move endlessly, and the moves plus 3D give the visuals a tremendous sense of space (no pun intended).  It may be mostly digital; I don't know...but it actually is also one of the closest representations I've seen on disc to actual film, which I found enchanting.  Images are crisp throughout, and the high-definition multi-dimension technology delivers with nary a flaw.

Audio ****

It's not just the 3D...it's the audio that delivers the sense of space.  As speakers float about, their voices move from channel to channel, and as danger approaches, you can hear it as it moves in and out of range.  The dynamics are strong, but particularly on the quieter ends, where the most subtle sounds become strong dramatic cues.  This is one of the best I've ever heard, and one of the most clever and striking uses of surround.

Features ***

There are hours of extras, including a multi-part documentary on the making of the film, plus extra looks at how many of the amazing shots were created...these are all quite detailed and engaging.  There is also a documentary called "Collision Point", narrated by Ed Harris, about the very REAL issue of the danger of debris orbiting the earth (it's not just a plot point).  There is also a short film that shows the OTHER side of Sandra Bullock's radio conversation with earth, and a look at the many film festivals this movie was selected for.

All the extras are on the 2D Blu-ray; there are no features on the 3D version.

Summary:

Gravity takes off and never lets go...it's the kind of cinematic masterpiece that reminds us just why we love movies so much in the first place. This is also as good as it gets on 3D Blu-ray. Highly recommended.

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