Bullock in Space

Gravity trailer review

Trailers aim to generate excitement. That is their sole purpose. A simple modus operandi that many of these two minute marvels still fail to achieve. Often that is not the trailers fault, sometimes the film is so diabolically bad that the trailer just can’t hide all of the imperfections. In other cases a trailer occasionally miss-sells a perfectly decent film by trying to pigeon hole it into a specific genre that is just not relevant, consequently the trailer looks awkward, confused and forced.

On the flip-side of that coin are the trailers that do their job too well, allowing you to believe in a film wholeheartedly, creating a feeling of unbridled joy and optimism that leads to wildly inaccurate statements such as, “Transformers 2 is going to be the kits tits!”

Then there are the perfect storms. Once in a blue moon a trailer crops up with such a clear understanding of the film it is promoting, a film whose style, subject matter and storyline have nothing to hide, that the end result is nothing short of breathtaking. Gravity is one such trailer.

Fade in on black. Titles pulse onto the screen amidst deafening silence. They move at a pace, forcing the audience to keep up. This is a trailer, and a film, in a hurry.

‘At 372 miles above the earth

There is nothing to carry sound

No oxygen

No air pressure.

Life in space is impossible.’

No voice over, no cheesy build up, no need. The set-up is simple, the silence telling, the last line foreboding.’

Smash cut to: space chaos! A space shuttle whirls through a sea of debris, a part of its wing missing. A white hydraulic arm holds a loan astronaut to the shuttle. “Explorer’s been hit!” George Clooney’s panicked voice crackles over the radio. Hearing the usually latte smooth Cloonster shout in fearful bursts is bizarrely unsettling.

The shuttle hurtles round again accompanied by a noise akin to a huge wind up radio being powered up. The astronaut claws at the edge of the screen, seemingly trying to grab onto the audience, desperately trying to stop the rotation. Inside the suit Sandra Bullock’s terrified face is visible for a split second, before it, and the shuttle, twists back out of shot, like some nightmarish fairground ride.

The wind up radio nears full charge. A huge piece of a satellite crashes into the hydraulic arm, smashing it in two. Sandra is sent spinning off into space. George frantically implores her to detach from the arm. She screams back at him, “What do I do?!” He repeats his command. The arm continues to career away from the shuttle, flipping over and over, round and round. Bits of satellite explode into each other on all sides. Bullock grabs at the belt securing her to the flying piece of debris. She closes her eyes and unclips it. Her body is thrown into the endless void. Her scream fades.

The WarnerBros symbol barrels onto the screen. Clooney’s voice states, “Houston, I’ve lost visual of Doctor Stone (Bullock).” An ominous bass judder lets us know that the situation is very bad indeed, before we glimpse a tiny white spec floating in vast black. It is Dr Stone.

Suddenly we are attached to aforementioned Stone’s space suit as she spins uncontrollably. Sexual George is back on the mic in a desperate attempt to attain Stone’s GPS position. We cut into Sandra’s POV, somersaulting with her – a truly disorientating experience – and then back out to her spinning in nothingness. George clammers for her to give him a visual reference. “I see nothing!” she wails in response.

A thudding drum, like a human heart beat, kicks in accompanied by an electronic drone that only ever signifies a problem of some sort. The curvature of the earth spins in and out of the reflection on Bullock’s visor. We close in on her. “I can’t breathe.” She gasps. She gulps down air, faster and faster. Clooney radios in to stop her. Cut to and extreme close up. The world rotates across her face – her eyes are filled with terror.

That is the breathless and breath-taking opening of the Gravity trailer, shot in such a way that, even when viewing the trailer on YouTube, the footage is totally immersive. After this point, unfortunately, the trailer descends, as all trailers do, into ‘main plot middle third territory’, smash cutting between scenes as Clooney and Bullock discuss relevant thematic points via voice over; Sandra’s daughter, not giving up etc. However this is not necessarily a bad thing, as although the trailer moves from interesting to safer, more conventional territory, in doing so it reveals little about the film other than the set-up, whilst still maintaining an exciting and dramatic edge through rapid cutting and a series of explosions.

As a trailer Gravity is up there with the best as it has a number of elements working in its favour. A simple idea and limited cast means that the set-up is short and whole scenes can be showcased without the audience getting lost. The use of the voiceover becomes less obvious and jarring as both main characters are astronauts and, rightly or wrongly, we are used to hearing words in our heads, rather than seeing them spoken, when it comes to films involving space travel.

Obviously not all trailers have ground breaking footage and aesthetics to showcase, but if more trailers were put together like Gravity, with a minimum of waffle and a clear idea of the film they are attempting to promote, the world of the cinema would be a better place.

Verdict: As a film you can expect Gravity to be as awe inspiring and adrenaline pumping as its two minute cousin. With two of Hollywood’s most interesting and reliable screen presences helming this mission, a degree of believability will be added to even the cheesiest of lines.

Now let’s all hope that somehow both their space suits get blown off.

To pretend you have seen the full film, say: “The best film I have seen this year, at one point I actually thought I was in space.”

Don’t say: “The best film I have seen this year, at one point I actually thought I was in George Clooney.”


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