So, Gravity, then. I’ve been wanting to write something about this ever since I saw it on Tuesday, but for various reasons haven’t got round to doing so. This isn’t a bad thing, because it’s given me a bit more time to think about what I wanted to say. Here goes. Oh, and there will be minor spoilerage, so if you haven’t seen it yet, look away now. Also, if you’re a friend of mine and you thought it was wonderful, you might also want to look away now. I’d hate this to come between us.
The thing is, I really, really, REALLY wanted to love Gravity. I’d seen the clip of the opening sequence back some time in 2011 (at least, that’s how long ago it seems) and I was desperate to see more. It looked utterly fabulous and it seemed to be one of those films (like, say, The Matrix) that would raise the bar to another level. The trouble was, it turned out that I’d already seen pretty much the whole film. OK, not literally, but I’d certainly seen the best bits and – despite taking great pains to avoid every other trailer and snippet of information floating around about the film – I reckon I had a fairly good idea of what might happen.
And so it turned out. Sure, it was great to see it on a big screen (I’d shelled out extra for the Cribbs Causeway Vue XTREME experience, more fool me), and if I hadn’t seen the opening sequence already, I really would have been blown away by it. And that might just have carried me through the rest of the film. But I had, and as a result there were no surprises left - well, apart from that rather silly bit towards the end, but that doesn’t really count, does it George? Even the novelty of 3D wore off after a while (yeah, I’ve avoided all this trendy 3D stuff up to now, having not bothered with it since seeing the weird Star Wars/Muppets/Michael Jackson mash-up Captain EO at EPCOT back in the 80s).
The problem, of course, was with the story. Or, rather, the lack of one. Essentially, the plot boiled down to that old amateur trope of One Bloody Thing After Another. There was a bit of an attempt to add tension and emotional depth to this by gaffer-taping a tragic backstory onto Sandra Bullock’s character, but it wasn’t remotely convincing. I wasn’t actually that bothered whether she lived or died at the end, frankly, and I was almost hoping for a crocodile to rock up unexpectedly in the final scene. That might have been fun.
The moral is, even if you’ve got the technology to show stuff in an amazing new whizzbang way – in fact, ESPECIALLY if you’ve got it – you still can’t do without a decent story. See The Matrix, above. Or pretty much the entire filmography of Pixar. What was the second word of Pixar’s first feature title again? Remind me…
The real tragedy of all this is the awful thought that Gravity isn’t even my all-time favourite film involving a space shuttle being destroyed by debris and the ISS catching fire. And it can’t be a healthy state of affairs when you end up as runner-up behind a Michael Bay film starring Ben Affleck, can it?
Gravity: unexpectedly lightweight.