Gravity (2013)

gravity_5Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Orto Ignatiussen, Phaldut Sharma, Ed Harris, Amy Warren, Basher Savage

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Expectations: High. Everyone loved this, right?

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On the technical side of things, Gravity is an absolutely amazing motion picture. It made me want to love the movie, but unfortunately movies do not succeed on their technical prowess alone. The emotional side of Gravity is a weak link, trading on stereotypical clichés and crafting moments too obviously designed to get a “deep” emotional reaction. This is not just Gravity‘s fault, though, as it’s more of a systemic disease afflicting a good majority of Hollywood mainstream films. But because of the technical mastery on display (especially the film’s 13-minute opening tracking shot), it felt right to hold Gravity to a different standard. Clearly, that didn’t entirely work out.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play American astronauts performing system upgrades on the Hubble telescope. For some reason, the Russians blast a satellite with a rocket, starting a chain reaction of space debris that not only jeopardizes the American mission, but their lives. Sounds like the plot of an ’80s movie looking to reinforce Cold War ideals, but I assure you it just came out last year!

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Demolition Man (1993)

demolitionman_3Starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Gunton, Glenn Shadix, Denis Leary, Bill Cobbs, Grand L. Bush, Pat Skipper, Steve Kahan, Paul Bollen

Directed by Marco Brambilla

Expectations: Very high. I used to love this one.

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Demolition Man is a movie without much middle ground. You’ll either come down on the side of the supporters or you’ll be left scratchin’ your head as to why anyone would enjoy it. In many ways, this is exactly the type of movie that should never be reviewed. It’s not one that stands up to harsh criticism, nor is it one that you could really sway anyone’s opinion on by pointing out specific scenes or intricacies the other person may have missed. This isn’t Bergman, it’s simply an action movie you either enjoy or you don’t.

The film opens in the war-torn streets of the future Los Angeles of 1996. Shit has most definitely gotten real, and mastermind sadistic criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) has kidnapped a bus full of civilians and hidden them somewhere in the city. That’s exactly the kind of stuff that will not stand in an action movie, so in drops John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) from a helicopter overhead. He’s a no-nonsense cop nicknamed the Demolition Man, and he’s ready to kick some serious ass. But when Phoenix outsmarts him, they both wind up in cryo prison while the world moves on from violence and abhorrent behavior.

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The Blind Side (2009)

Starring Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Jae Head, Kathy Bates

Directed by John Lee Hancock

Expectations: Super low. I’m only watching this because the Academy in all their stupidity granted this one of the abundant ten best picture nominations and I am a glutton for punishment.


Okay, here’s the deal. If I were to rate this movie purely on its technical merits, it would be low. One star perhaps. I won’t do that though as the basis for this movie, the true story, is good enough to add a star to this otherwise boring and pedestrian film. This is post-Oscars and everyone knows that Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for this role. If you had any shred of faith left in the Academy, if No Country for Old Men‘s sweep a couple of years back had you re-thinking your hatred, then awarding Bullock the Oscar here should quickly stomp out that last dying ember. She does well enough in the role, but she’s exactly the same as she’s been in countless other movies, albeit with a southern accent this time around. To me, that doesn’t spell Oscar worthy. I’d like to see Sandra Bullock play a truly different role and surprise me sometime. I’m not holding my breath though.

The only award I would have given this film is the award for Worst Editing in a Motion Picture Scene, going without question to the scene in which Michael Oher fights a gang member and busts up his apartment. In the space of three seconds there’s about 15 cuts that serve no purpose whatsoever except to confuse the viewer. Did he just hit that guy? Or did the guy just hit him? Who knows? It defies all good reason and neither shows or tells us anything meaningful.

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