Gravity (2013) Blu-ray Review: Out of This World

One of the most intense cinematic experiences I remember having in the last decade was seeing Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity on the big screen during its initial release. Granted, I didn’t see it in IMAX (although I wish I did), but the immersion into space, stranded with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, was quite the ride – and one I certainly never forgot. But, like most movies, I only see them once and then, maybe, get around to revisiting them.

Buy Gravity (2013) Blu-ray

I hadn’t seen Gravity since that initial experience, but I would constantly reference it and bring it up during some conversations. With this new Blu-ray release, it’s great to be able to revisit the film – albeit I kept wanting to be seated in a big theater with a huge surround system to witness the full scope of the movie. But I’ll make do with watching it at home on a nice big television.

Gravity is a 91-minute thrill ride that centers around two astronauts. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is an engineer on her first mission, and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is an astronaut on his final before retiring. During a routine spacewalk, some debris heads toward their ship and destroys it, leaving the two stranded and the rest of their crew dead. With oxygen and other resources running low, the two must find a way to safety and, ultimately, return to Earth.

One of the most argued debates about space movies, especially Star Wars and other popular sci-fi franchises, is the realism of certain events occurring in space – especially the ability to hear sound. Cuaron does something different by incorporating sound into the movie’s score, amplifying the experience and creating a more intense experience for the viewer without forcing them to suspend belief.

The opening 15 minutes is fantastically captured in one single take, as we walk around the ship with Clooney and Bullock before the debris attacks. Even at home, there are times where some of the camera movement can get a little dizzying from being up close to the subjects and following them as they spin out of control. But it was a better decision to be more close-knit, so the viewer can get that feeling of fright and uncertainty, as Bullock gets stranded from Clooney and other similar instances occur.

While the movie is mostly special effects, the cinematography captures some beautiful scenery as Clooney reflects on missing home and Bullock remembers what she once had that is now gone. The two characters are completely separate, and the chemistry they share is impeccable. Clooney is more joyful and looks forward to retirement, while Bullock is more lost – emotionally, spiritually, and, to a degree, physically, when things hit the fan. And watching the two together as they navigate through the chaos of space is extremely fun.

The Blu-ray release for Gravity comes with a “Silent Space” version that strips the film’s score and allows the viewer to experience the movie as it is without music. I didn’t get the chance to watch that version of the film, but I imagine it creates a different feel for the movie overall. At the same time, though, some of the musical pieces are beautifully done and I can’t imagine how those scenes would play without them. There is a completely separate disc for special features, and rightfully so, as it contains nearly three hours of bonus material. A lot of good behind-the-scenes moments, a short film from Jonás Cuarón, Alfonso’s son, a documentary narrated by Ed Harris, and some other great content, too.

There is a lot to appreciate about a movie like Gravity. While mainly recognized for its technical achievements, and rightfully so, the film is a fascinating exploration of being lost and learning to accept and move on. Bullock’s performance is a powerhouse that propels the film into a whole new territory and is something that will be remembered for years to come. While the movie is highly recommended to see on the biggest screen possible such as IMAX, the likelihood of that happening is slim nowadays. So, if this movie has been a blind spot to you, rectify it now and pick up this new Blu-ray release.

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David Wangberg

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