Gravity (US, 2013)

Out of this world

Out of this world

Hollywood has lost the plot; Lynda Obst (Sleepless in Hollywood) dates the institution’s loss of nerve to 2008 when the only game in town became franchises aimed primarily at the international market. This year is the first time, I think, that I’ve not seen any of the ‘big summer movies’; I’d assumed fogeyism had gotten me at last but maybe it isn’t my fault and Hollywood no longer knows how to make interesting big budget movies.  All this is to put into context Warner Bros.’s risky $80m project that has become the biggest grossing October release ever; the autumn being a slack time at the box office traditionally. Risky, presumably, as it’s not part of a franchise.

You will be aware that the film is also a critical success and even moved Mark Kermode to state that it must be seen in 3D; I share his dislike of the medium and he’s right in this instance. I’m an admirer of director (and co-scriptwriter) Alfonso Cuaron: his Y tu mama tambien and Children of Men  are amongst my favourite films of this century. His trademark long takes are breathtakingly evident in Gravity adding to the brilliance of the special effects by London’s Framestore. The film’s also powered by ‘old fashioned’ stars that not only lend their charisma to the screen but, particularly in Bullock’s case as she did the bulk of the publicity circus, help to market the film worldwide. Obst also remarks that Hollywood is no longer producing stars; Jennifer Lawrence may be an exception.

Could Gravity‘s success make Hollywood realise that there’s more to financial success than franchises? I haven’t seen Captain Phillips but that isn’t a major studio production and it is quite terrifying how the Marvel sequels are out-grossing their predecessors powered by last year’s The Avengers. I can see why studio execs are thinking franchises are the only game in town. Disney, which owns Marvel, is also poised to reboot Star Wars… Aaaaagh! 

A hailstorm forced me into an Odeon early to see the film and so I had to suffer 30 minutes of marketing. Cinemas should charge less the earlier you go in so at least we get something for our pain.

Hopefully there are plenty of good movies to come this year but it’ll take something special to prevent this being in my top two, along with Before Midnight, of the year.


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