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By Peter Covino
No one can hear you scream in outer space.
From Alien to 2001: A Space Odyssey, there is so much that is familiar, yet so much that is groundbreaking and new in director Alfonso Cuaron’s space epic Gravity.
I saw this masterfullly created film in 3D, and it just might be the only way to see it. It might also be the rare film that requires absolute silence (so shut up already to the woman who sat next to me and said “oh my God!” every other minute. You are not in your living room, but you should stay there).
The time is pretty much now. Space veteran Matt Kowalsky and newbie Dr. Ryan Stone (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, respectively) are doing the standard spacewalk, repairing some thing-a-ma-gig or other.
It’s all routine (and set up very nicely by Cuaron who also co-wrote the script). Kowalsky is relaying the same jokes and stories back to Houston as he floats above Earth, while Stone is trying desperately not to hurl again.
Then they get what seems to be just a little blip in their day from Houston. A Russian satellite has exploded and a bunch of debris has been set into motion, but it is nothing to worry about yet — we’ll keep you posted.
If you have seen the previed trailers, you already know, there is plenty to worry about.
In movie time, and probably real time as well, a few minutes pass and the astronauts are told this is a real emergency, the space debris has hit other satellites and more debris is hurtling in their direction. They need to stop what they are doing immediately, get back into the space station and undock and head for home.
Whoops, did somebody say, “too late.”
And thus, Cuaron sets up the next great film set in outer space, though Gravity has much more to do with 2001: A Space Odyssey then it does anything flown by Capt. Kirk and the rest of crew from Star Trek.
Done on stage and with lots of great CGI effects, Gravity is that rare film that makes great use of current technology and isn’t about exploding buildings and giant robots. But the explosions here are so much more compelling than anything you willl find in the lastest Transformers movie or even Iron Man for that matter. You may not jump out of your seat, but you will be sitting on the very edge, as you watch the astronauts fight to stay alive as bits of debris come right at you (in 3D).
I dare you not to blink.
It is gripping stuff. The set pieces are spectacular and like last year’s The Life of Pi, it is a brilliant piece of movie-making that will keep you enthralled.
Space films are usually filled with adventure and wonder. And Gravity is a great one, sharing a similar feel at times to other great ones like 2001, Alien, The Right Stuff and Apollo 13.
But its message of finding a way home, has probably never been put so strongly.
If you haven’t seen a preview for Gravity take a look at http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/gravity-2013/ where there are several clips to choose from.
Gravity is rated PG-13
Critic’s Rating: B+
My screening of Gravity included a sneak peek look the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug.
It looks like more of the same and I was disappointed in the first film, mostly because they were trying to stretch what is at best a two-film story into three.
The second film, due in December, features an old familiar face, Orlando Bloom, who returns as elf-prince Legolas and perhaps evenmore intriguingly, it also has the dragon.
You can check out that trailer at http://www.thehobbit.com/index.html.
The Right Stuff
I casually mentioned The Right Stuff earlier. I have always been a big fan of this really well made film about the American Mercury space program. It should have done so much better when it was released back in 1983.
If you haven’t seen it, almost now is the time as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has just announced a 30th anniversary Blu-ray edition (this is its Blu-ray debut) for Nov. 5.
Here is the info from the Warner press release
The Right Stuff — director Philip Kaufman’s (Unbearable Lightness of Being) inspiring, epic motion picture about the birth of the U.S. space program that won four Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing (1983) marks its 30th anniversary with a Blu-ray debut Nov. 5. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) will release the iconic film in a premium 40 page Blu-ray book ($27.98 SRP), which includes rare photos, production notes and other material.
The Right Stuff 30th Anniversary Blu-ray Book will boast Dolby TrueHD with advanced 96k upsampling to deliver a full-range high-definition surround sound experience with remarkable clarity, detail and spaciousness. Dolby TrueHD delivers an out-of-this-world sound experience that will transport listeners right into the middle of the on-screen action when watching the film.
Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward and Jeff Goldblum head the stellar ensemble cast of The Right Stuff, which is based on Tom Wolfe’s best-selling book chronicling the exciting early years of the United States’ race to conquer the final frontier, and the daredevil test pilots who ultimately became the first Americans in space. Kaufman also wrote the screenplay for the film which Pauline Kael of The New Yorker called “astonishingly entertaining and great fun.”
There also is a new trailer for Disney’s Frozen, due out in theaters Nov. 27.
Walt Disney Animation Studios presents the big-screen comedy adventure.
The story: Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad), Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
The film is directed by Chris Buck (“Tarzan,” “Surf’s Up”) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, “Wreck-It Ralph”), who also wrote the screenplay.
It also features orignal songs from Tony winner Robert Lopez (“The Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q”) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“In Transit,” “Winnie the Pooh”), and an original score by Christophe Beck (“The Muppets”).
You can find the film trailer at http://movies.yahoo.com/video/frozen-theatrical-trailer-184015779.html.
There is more family adventure coming Dec. 20 with the release of Twentieth Century Fox’s Walking with Dinosaurs.
The studio says audiences will truly see and feel what it was like when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
You can find that trailer at http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/fox/walkingwithdinosaurs/.
The Little Mermaid
Finally, coming out this week in Blu-ray/DVD (the review copy arrived too late for this week, look for it in next week’s DVD column) is the Diamond Edition of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
The Diamond Edition will be available in 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + Music Download)
2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack with Digital Copy (Blu-ray + DVD/ Digital Copy).
And 2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD).