2014, Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, The Prisoner of Azkaban) -- download
This movie should not be seen on the small screen, no matter how big your home small screen is. This should be seen on the largest possible screen, likely in 3D. I was delaying seeing the movie because of my (bad eye) issues with 3D. I was hoping to see it on some big screen and finally... it was only in IMAX 3D. And then it was gone. This movie is about big digital set pieces, in space, in the vastness of near earth orbit. All the digital play pieces are incredibly detailed and imagined with great skill and authenticity. I will still see this on a bigger screen given the chance, but I wanted to finally see it.
You know my love for small movies. How much smaller can you get with a cast of three, two, one? This story is all Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) with Space as the almost over-shadowing secondary character. After an absolutely horrible disaster involving unexpected space debris travelling at bullet speeds, Dr Stone is left the only one alive. I wondered to myself whether this was the impetus for the Space Debris Section from the manga/anime Planetes. Stone is left with one thought in mind, to get to a space station and use its lander to get safely back to earth. She is a scientist, only a first-time astronaut, so the fact she handles this so well is incredible. She has her motivation and her training, be that as it may, so she does the only thing she can do -- try.
A lot has been said about the realism vs the realistic science in this movie. I understand we are dealing with a fictional occurrence, not a documentary, so the fact it felt realistic is all I need to know. I was kind of bugged by the ease at which she transitioned between the three orbits but that was about it. The technical representation is mind staggeringly detailed, from the digitally created exteriors of the space shuttle, satellites and space stations to the vast emptiness of space. Vast seems to be a word made for space. So, accepting that is a staggeringly visual movie, I have to admit to being rather underwhelmed by the story. There might be tense escapes from Bay-splosions, but most of the movie is just her dealing. And not stoic, super astronaut, but emotionally and fragile-y. My favourite scene is her talking on the radio with whom the internet explained is an Inuit, sitting in the cold worrying about his dog. It reminded me of something I might write in my postcard stories, small, contained and very poignant. The movie should have had more of such scenes.