17 November 2013


At 372 miles above the earth, there is nothing to carry sound. No air pressure. No oxygen - Life in space is impossible. But the view? The view is breathtaking...Gravity is possibly one of the most talked about films over the last year and I now see why. Alfonso Cuaron provides us with a white knuckled, claustrophobic space drama that is the ultimate cinematic experience.

Gravity, unlike many big budget productions we see today follows just two main characters throughout it's duration. We have Matt Kowalski on his last mission and new to game medical engineer Dr Ryan Stone, who upon being asked how she feels, replies with 'Like a chihuahua in a tumble drier'. The cocky and cheeky Mr Kowalski played by no other than charmer, George Clooney (Ocean's Eleven, The Descendants) delivers the much needed lighthearted lines. However Sandra Bullock completely steals the show. This is possibly one of her best roles, on par with The Blind Side and Crash. This was not a glamorous role; there is minimal make-up and certainly a distinct lack of beauty pageants. Whilst what seems to be a routine space walk, something goes drastically wrong causing the entire mission and their team to the compromised. This event leaves Kowalski and Stone spiralling through the endless abyss that is our infinite universe. Of course this isn't giving anything away, as all trailers advertising said film have shown the inevitable loss of Ryan Stone trying to dodge space debris. 

The 3D here is truly magnificent. When first witnessing The Hobbit late last year with crystal clear 3D to the point where you could look around the entire frame and see how defined it was, if a film was anything less it would have been rather disappointing! Gravity is streaks ahead. Every little detail is considered with utter depth resulting in feeling completely immersed whilst watching this nerve racking space ride. The director constantly breaks the fourth wall, virtually putting you directly in Dr. Stone's space suit, again only intensifying the utter despair she, herself is feeling. 

Despite the trailer showing a fairly fast paced, action packed drama, the film itself is something completely different. This is well-paced journey for Dr. Stone. This is the path she has chosen as a coping mechanism to deal with the entire reason she took the job in the first place. With Steven Price's powerfully booming soundtrack constantly resonating the sound of the human heart beat, life and death play a big part in Gravity. This is her complete escape, her re-birth into the world after what she has just been through. In Gravity, there is no gravity. Every single shot is constantly rotating, turning and twisting across the screen. There are a handful of static shoots and even then, due to the sheer movement of the overall film, you still feel as if you have just walked off of a swaying boat. 

This purely digital experience is a perfect example of technology meeting the means of the creator. Gravity is this generations answer to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Believe the hype; just be aware of the cliche script writing that will force you to fight back the tears! 

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
91mins, 12A (2013)  

5 November 2013

Thor: The Dark World

This autumn Marvel brings us yet another spectacular 3D adventure, focusing on no other than the God of thunder - Thor. After not enjoying Avengers Assemble as much as I'd like to, I was in two minds about the second instalment from this superhero. Albeit, I soon realised that this is easily one of the best Avenger films thus far.  Opposed to offering us a standard action packed flick, which is in fear of overflowing with special effects, we have something much more.

We are back on Asgard - homeland of the Norse Gods where everything seems fine and dandy with devious half brother Loki finally behind bars. Yet our lovely blonde haired Thor, with a physique that resembles a divine being (Chris Hemsworth: Thor, Cabin in the Woods, Rush) is still caught up on the very human, quirky scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman: Black Swan, Closer, V for Vendetta). Thor thinks that his (and indeed the realms) only problem is locked away, however an ancient enemy of Asgards awaken. As the Dark Elves embark on Asgard, their leader Malekith is as ruthless as ever. Performed flawlessly by Christopher Eccleston (Dr. Who, 28 Days Later) despite all his lines being in a made up alien language and undergoing a hefty amount of prosthetics. This threat Odin thought had been eliminated years before, throws this sci-fantasy completely off course. This dark force who's intent on bringing darkness to every corner of the universe, including the world of the astrophysicist love interest, results in Thor (and his hammer), having to trust the mischievous Loki in order to prevent this. 

Taking a step back from the ever talented collaboration of Joss Whedon and Kenneth Baragrah (Buffy, The Avengers), veteran director Alan Taylor puts his flare to Thor: The Dark World. Known for his work on the popular series Game of Thrones, Taylor gives us something quite sinister, yet like Game of Thrones, balanced with tongue in cheek exchanges. He delivers a film that will keep die-hard comic fans happy with certain throw backs to the original strips; whilst providing comic relief. Ensuring us that these guys can have fun and that they aren't taking their god-like status's too seriously! Writers Christopher Vost, Chris Markus and Steve Mcfeeling all deserve a mention, not forgetting Stan Lee himself who all contributed to this truly entertaining script. We have endless one liners that will make you chuckle, not forgetting a special guest appearance by another one of your favourite Avengers (spoilers!). Through all the chaos and destruction of earth and Asgard equally, we have a satisfying break from really epic battle scenes. We have a more personal, man on man (or god on elf) approach which works beautifully on screen, allowing the viewer to take in every move. With most of the cast reprising their roles, this cast really does speak for itself. The performances given hit the nail on the head with such names as Stellan Skargard (Good Will Hunting, Dogville) playing the lack-of-trouser wearing physicist Erik Selvig alongside Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls, 40 year old Virgin) with her crazy, nerdy persona of Darcy Lewis. Additionally, Chris Hemsworth and Tim Hiddleson bring charisma and charm that shines through their inevitable sibling rivalry with Natalie Portman comfortable in her role - all of which add to the enjoyment of this narrative.

With special effects that would have looked just as stunning in 2D, the overall look of this film is exactly what you would expect from an Avengers escapade. This two hour epic will keep you enthralled throughout whether you are just going to get out the house or as a comic fan. Alan Taylor has certainly shown the world of cinema what he is capable of. One I shall watch again, indefinitely.

Directed by Alan Taylor

120mins, 12A (2013)