If there's one thing we've really learned, since the resurfacing of 3D, it's that cramming a movie with CGI, no matter how good, does not make a great film. Avatar got away with it at the box-office, so did Alice In Wonderland (though the critics panned it) and John Carter simply didn't.
So here comes another over-hyped example.
It's called Gravity.
Now, critics love this movie: it's Oscar-bait at its purest. Gravity is a concept movie with two main leads: George Clooney, who is going for the quirky and loveable Best Supporting Actor nomination and Sandra Bullock, who is going for the big prize. No plot, no brains, no point but boy is it trying. I'll give the film that: it looks pretty good. You're clearly looking at buckets of CGI with tons of stuff flying at you to cater for the 3D aspect but the effects are solid enough to make you suspend your disbelief. Bullock's character is the rookie who somehow got a job in space despite her nervous nature, suicidal tendencies and lack of common sense. After a bunch of debris from a destroyed satellite crashes into her station, she is sent hurling out into the nothingness of space and it's up to Clooney and herself to make it back to Earth safely. The entire film is about her letting go of her dead daughter and finding the strength within her to go on. It's cheesy as hell but it could have been the subject of an interesting film, I suppose. The problem is that it's impossible to care about her because she really is one of the most annoying characters to reach our screens this year. Her constant whining, breathing and general incompetence is really distracting and, since we've had no chance to see her connect with her daughter, I don't see what's meant to get us, the audience, emotionally invested. No-one can pretend like they wouldn't freak out in her situation, of course, and that makes the occasional moment relatively suspenseful but by the time she starts barking like a dog, you'll be wondering what the hell you're actually watching.
My main problem with Gravity is just how overblown and pretentious it is. We're meant to care about these people because they're human, that's all. Forget writing three-dimensional characters, forget giving them convincing, multi-faceted personalities, forget giving them goals and aspirations. (SPOILERS) One character sacrifices themselves for another and we're meant to buy this because they were only 2 days from retirement? Come on. The writing is irritatingly manipulative and, because of that, so few lines actually ring true. Say what you will about Buried, another similar concept movie, but at least it didn't aspire to send us a simplistic "live your life to the fullest because... space" message. Oh, and as for the whole foetus, birth, death imagery and the mini-"twist" the film offers near the end, it's symbolism at its most obvious and, if you've seen more than three films, it's unlikely it'll impress you. I won't go into the gravitational, scientific and technical inaccuracies about the events unfolding in the movie because I'm no rocket scientist and because I'm willing to keep an open mind in a sci-fi film. That said, even if you're willing to shut your brain off to that aspect of it, you'll still find this whole thing completely unbelievable. Mercifully, the spinning scenes which were the subject of every single trailer this movie put out before its release don't make up the entire movie. I was happy about that, at least.
Gravity would have made a brilliant 20 to 30 minute opening to a more substantial sci-fi film. As it stands, though, this is an empty, corny, overblown Oscar whore of a film which looks nice enough but fails to live up to both the hype and its original premise.
(hey, if Bullock's getting an award for this, I might as well try barking!)