Warner Bros. brought a nice chunk of GRAVITY with them to Hall H on Saturday, along with star Sandra Bullock, director Alfonso Cuaron and producer David Heyman. The space-set thriller, about an astronaut (Bullock) who finds herself stranded amongst the stars after an accident destroys her ship, is a highly-anticipated project, mostly thanks to Cuaron’s considerable geek-cred after films like HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN and CHILDREN OF MEN. So what exactly does this film have to offer us cynical movie nerds?
In short, the film looks like a masterpiece. You’ve likely seen the teaser trailer already, and the extended clip brought to San Diego Comic-Con expanded on what we see in that sneak. Here we were privy to the calamity that befalls our protagonists, played by Bullock and George Clooney. It was intense, eerie and thoroughly beautiful to behold.
Clip starts with Bullock and Clooney’s characters repairing a damaged space shuttle. Things are mostly uneventful for the duo, aside from the fact that they’re floating in outer space of course, until they get word from Houston that they must abort their mission ASAP. Evidently a Russian satellite has been destroyed (by the Russians, no less) and the debris is headed directly toward the astronauts. The Bullock character panics initially, but maintains composure after Clooney tells her to calm down. But it doesn’t much matter after the satellite debris begins pelting their shuttle, destroying everything in its path and tossing the crew about.
What was especially splendid about this clip was the fact that it was done in one long extended take; Cuaron in his CHILDREN OF MEN mode again. The visual effects are outstanding, and though the clip shown was not in 3D, the film itself is and it’s not hard to imagine how kick-ass these sights will be in that extra dimension. Additionally, as there’s no sound in outer space, the destruction was almost all completely muted; the only thing you hear is the Clooney and Bullock character’s terrified voiced. This lends the chaos an element of added surreality; everything is being blown apart in total silence. Really wild.
Some highlights from the panel:
- Both producer David Heyman (HARRY POTTER films) and Bullock called Cuaron out for being something of a madman. Heyman called him a pain in the ass, but “the best kind of pain in the ass.” Bullock called him an evil puppeteer.
- Regarding whether or not those really long takes are difficult, Cuaron said no. Not for him, at least, but it’s incredibly difficult on the various crewmembers who have to make it happen. “The easy way is not the fun way,” he said. He indicated that his crew on this was top-notch across the board; the cinematographer was once again his CHILDREN OF MEN D.P. Emmanuel Lubezki.
- Bullock, who is terrified of flying, had to ride the “vomit comet” in order to simulate weightlessness. She said after that accomplishment, nothing even came close to scaring her quite as much.
- Among Cuaron’s inspirations for the film: Steven Spielberg’s DUEL (which he thinks is Spielberg’s best film), VANISHING POINT and RUNAWAY TRAIN.
- Cuaron said that shooting was very intense for both him and Bullock , who had to spend a lot of time isolated in a cube. He also said that all the weight was on the actors to make this movie work.