This Two-Disc “Diamond Luxe Edition” of Gravity is a quality release though this should’ve been what was released originally. What you get over the original version are a couple new features including a 42-minute historical featurette and the new Dolby Atmos audio track which is a fine upgrade, though the original DTS-HD MA 5.1 track was pretty darn good on its own and Atmos takes it to the next level.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Drama
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 91 min. – $24.98 | March 31, 2015
Note: Portions of this review was copied from my original Blu-ray review published 2/20/14.
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Note: This review does contain spoilers so please skip if you have yet to see the movie.
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film is simple yet effective providing drama and suspense from beginning to end and opens with a breathtaking sequence showcasing planet Earth as Space Shuttle Explorer and its crew – the charismatic Mission Commander Matt Kowalski (GEORGE CLOONEY), medical engineer Ryan Stone (SANDRA BULLOCK on her first trip to space, and a couple others whose fates are determined less than 20-minutes in – are on a space walk to repair something or other.
Things apparently are routine, though the device Stone is trying to fix is giving her troubles, when they receive word from Mission Control (voiced by ED HARRIS) that the Russians had launched a missile to destroy one of their own (spy) satellites and the debris is coming their way at a brisk pace. Before Kowalski and Stone can get back and Explorer get out of the debris field, it’s pummeled killing two crew members and sending Stone flying off into the abyss with Kowalski eventually able to calm her down, given her oxygen levels is rapidly decreasing, and get to her. However, the two are in deep trouble as the debris knocked out all the satellites thus cutting off all communication with mission control. Their only hope is to get to the International Space Station which had already been abandoned though there is one pod that could get them home.
I’m stopping here with the plot summary as not to spoil much more, that said, for something with a simple story all set in space with nary even a flashback, I commend the Cuarón brothers for painting a dramatic and traumatic back-story particularly for Stone which is heartbreaking simply being told as exposition in the form of Kowalski attempting to keep Stone calm. It’s an effective tool which pays dividends later in the film and allows the audience to actually care about Stone and her fight for survival.
Not to be forgotten or passed over, I also have to give praise to composer Steven Price (The Worlds’ End) who has created a powerful, haunting and all around amazing score and as somebody who buys motion picture scores, it’s easily the best I’ve come across since perhaps The Fountain. It’s an absolutely incredible score worth buying.
Director Alfonso Cuarón came onto the mainstream scene with 1998’s Great Expectations but made an even bigger splash taking Harry Potter into darker territory on Prisoner of Azkaban (one of my favorite in that franchise) and followed that up with the incredible drama/thriller, Children of Men, which character-wise, is pretty comparable with to Gravity. Beyond the technological challenges Cuarón – along with his writer/brother Jonás – took for a movie that takes place nearly entirely in outer-space, he manages to keep the suspense going at a brisk pace through the 85-minute running time (sans end credits), not an easy task given you only have two characters and a relatively simple plot.
Gravity is one of the more incredible experiences I’ve had with a movie in quite a while and although I acknowledge many will not enjoy it, and furthermore I recognize the heavy-handed uses of symbolism with rebirth and such (you can see one in the screenshot above), I still found it to be a fantastic journey from beginning to end and features an incredible performance from Sandra Bullock who fully deserves the Oscar nomination. Clooney for his part is serviceable in what is filler but he and Bullock have good chemistry.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
This two-disc set comes housed in the new magnet digipak (like “Extant”) and the discs sit, fairly firmly, in hub-less slots. No digital copy or DVD copy has been included with this release.
New Diamond Luxe Features:
Gravity: Silent Space – This version of the film cuts out the music and tries to give the experience of silent space with only the communication, though I did notice a couple jump scare sounds. This one is presented with a basic Dolby Digital 5.1 track.
Looking to the Stars: The Evolution of Space Films (41:58; HD) is a history on the movies taking place in space and features interviews with various people in the business discussing how some effects were created and evolved over the years.
Gravity: The Human Experience (11:05; HD) is an EPK-like featurette with interviews by the cast, crew and historians talking about space exploration.
Sandra’s Birthday Wish (3:21; HD) is a funny little gag with Bullock doing a “reshoot” for the film and wishing Alfonso Cuarón a happy birthday.
Gravity: Mission Control (1:46:36; HD) is a comprehensive, 9-part featurette covering the making of the movie from the script/story, casting, visual effects and just about each aspect of filmmaking, including the challenges. Also features interviews with Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney amongst others.
Shot Breakdowns (36:48; HD) – These look at how some of the visuals – “Behind the Visor”, “Fire in the International Space Station”, “Dr. Stone’s Rebirth”, “The Sound of Action in Space” and “Splashdown” – were achieved.
Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space (22:28; HD) is a documentary narrated by Ed Harris looking at the attempts to rid outer space of debris.
Aningaaq (6:53; HD) is the short film, directed by Jonás Cuarón, which shows the perspective from the man whom Bullock’s character was speaking to in the film.
VIDEO – 5.0/5
Gravity drifts through space and finds safety on Blu-ray with a 1080p high-definition and presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture looks beautiful in HD from the stark black in space to the bright, aluminous colors of Earth which is stunning even on the small screen (really wish I had seen it in IMAX). Using the Arri Alexa M camera, the movie has amazing clarity and the detail levels are incredible with no obvious signs of pixilation or artifacting.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The biggest addition to this “Diamond Luxe Edition” is the new Dolby Atmos track, which decodes to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those receivers that can’t read Atmos, and frankly, the initial released should’ve been 7.1 channels anyway. Even so, the original DTS-HD MA 5.1 track was still fantastic and this one just kicks it up a notch with amazing depth with the communication between Bullock and Clooney, as well as that with Houston before it was cut off. The Academy Award winning score by Steven Price comes through providing a good dynamic for what could’ve been a limited soundtrack.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, this Two-Disc “Diamond Luxe Edition” of Gravity is a quality release though this should’ve been what was released originally. What you get over the original version are a couple new features including a 42-minute historical featurette and the new Dolby Atmos audio track which is a fine upgrade, though the original DTS-HD MA 5.1 track was pretty darn good on its own and Atmos takes it to the next level.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.