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Iman Sheikh

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TIFF Reviews: Sorry, Sandra - 'Gravity' Didn't Pull Me in

Posted: 09/15/2013 11:45 pm

I can't say I'm all that surprised about George Clooney skipping the TIFF premiere of Gravity. He's embarrassed. I would be too. And Sandra Bullock, let's face it, you're basically just playing the same role you had in Speed. Except Speed had a plot. And you were a way more believable bus driver than NASA scientist.

Sandy, I loved you in The Net. You were the most desirable alcoholic ever in 28 Days. I even forgave you for The Heat. And I know it must've been bad when your rough-looking husband started hooking up with that tattoo lady (yes I know "lady" is too generous a term for her.) But Gravity... why'd you do it?

It's not that Gravity isn't visually stunning. It is. The film is technically perfect, from the sound design to the mesmerizing special effects. It has such a promising start too, all sexy and futuristic. The seamless opening shot, which introduces veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (the eternally unflappable Clooney), and newbie scientist Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), is a beautiful and gripping 15 minutes long at least. I mean, a 3D movie with Miss Congeniality and Dr. Doug Ross up in space together, repairing the Hubble Telescope? What could go wrong?

Evidently, a lot. A satellite explodes and sends a tsunami of sharp debris flying into the astronauts and telescope, destroying their ship and killing their associate -- a bit gruesomely shown with a hole through his face. From this point on, the 'story' turns into a sappy tale of Bullock's struggle to get back to Earth alive. And that's basically everything that's wrong with Gravity. It boldly goes where every film has gone before, leaving no cliché unturned.

I still don't know if there was an actual script, or they just made one up quickly after Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón decided what his film sets would look like. What was it about? Was it basically just a bad day in space? First, Ryan (she has a man's name because her father always wanted a boy yada yada) is gasping for breath because her oxygen tank is almost empty. Then she's stripping into some tank top and micro shorts, floating through a decimated space station with random objects suspended all around. I mean, that's exactly what I would wear to protect myself against flying shrapnel.

But that's just the beginning of Gravity's complete departure from reality. It appears novice astronaut Ryan is part Catwoman, surviving in space with an empty oxygen tank, a space ship without fuel, all while flying around in a flame-engulfed pod. There's even a sequence where Ryan, in her little shorts and wet tank top slowly climbs out of the ocean (it's so convenient when you crash land from outer space right near the shoreline). Does Ariel from The Little Mermaid want her scene back? I think so.

Gravity could have been so much more. Space is exciting. Real-life astronauts on Earth are exciting. Remember Lisa Nowak? She was the NASA astronaut who in 2007 drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando to kidnap her ex-lover's other woman and murder her. When police searched Nowak's car, they found adult diapers, which she allegedly wore so she wouldn't have to stop driving to use the bathroom on her stalking expedition. They also found a steel mallet, a four-inch knife, a BB gun, and a love letter to fellow astronaut William Oefelein. You can't make this stuff up. Could they not have incorporated this into Gravity? A chilling love triangle set deep in the solar system? An Unfaithful meets Apollo 13? The exciting possibilities were endless. Instead, the cheese is endless.

IMDB says Angelina Jolie was approached for this role twice and turned it down. Well played, Angie. Well played. Natalie Portman was apparently the second choice, who signed on, then dropped out allegedly because she got pregnant. Pity. Would she have gone all demented Black Swan out of loneliness in space? That would've been amazing. Sadly, in all it's visual resplendence, even Spaceballs tells a more captivating story than Gravity.

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