I may be slipping in my definition of “movies for Hallowe’en”, but the movie has been billed as something truly terrifying, and at least one horror website reviewed this movie, so I’m counting this one. Plus, it’s late, and I already saw the last half of last week’s Sleepy Hollow and all of tonight’s The Walking Dead, and I’m tired.
Everyone has been raving about this movie, and much more eloquently than I, so I feel like I’d just be adding to the praise heap with blah-words. But I really liked it. I didn’t get to see it in the recommended IMAX 3D format, but it still worked well in 3D (though, like a lot of other 3D movies, only a handful of scenes truly make use of the 3D). The visuals were truly stunning, whether it’s the faraway shots of the characters as human specks in the vast void of space, or a the pirouetting ribbon effect of the tether cord between two characters.
The dialogue is simple, so the acting, for the most part, is simple, but it’s Sandra Bullock’s movie. To me, she’s always been ditzy characters, so I didn’t think I could buy her as NASA specialist Dr Ryan Stone. But I knew that this wasn’t going to to be some typical Hollywood space movie (thank god there’s no Aerosmith song). These characters are educated, highly-skilled, meticulously-trained people who know what they’re doing when stuff gets screwed up. They’re not really going to panic; they’re not going to make stupid decisions. That was refreshing to see on-screen.
Given that everyone had been praising the visuals, I felt that I could predict some of the events that we’d see unfold on screen, e..g. I knew we’d see an insane debris shower (lots of beautiful, violent imagery), because it would look better on film than having the character escape it in time to view it from the safety of a pod window. I knew that a scene involving fire would have the fire spiral a bit out of control, because fire in space is strange and fascinating to watch. Still, it’s uncomfortably tense, because I have no idea what’s going to happen (walking in space is not like walking down the street), or which characters will bite it.
(BIG SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP)
There’s been a lot of discussion about the film’s ending, with some convinced that the final act is a “what if?” and that Dr Stone didn’t actually survive parts of the movie (there’s a consensus that she passed away right between deliberately lowering the O2 levels in the craft and hallucinating/dreaming that Kowalski made it back to give her that pep talk. That’s an interesting sentiment, but I’m not sure why there’s a such a trend for moviegoers to stubbornly insist that what they see on screen is not necessarily what’s actually happening (at what point is the movie fake/a dream?) ,particularly when the director himself has presented his most “prevalent” (not necessarily the only) theory that the movie’s imagery invokes rebirth metaphors (the foetal position/umbilical cord/tether) and Darwinian ideals (crawling from the ocean/primordial oozee to shakily put two feet to walk on dry land.
Regardless of whether or not you want to take it at face value, or try to formulate alternative theories as to what (and how) might have happened, it’s still a great watch. Looking forward to the sequel, Apple Falling on Scientist’s Head. Just kidding. Sorry. It’s late.