It’s rare when one of the best movies of the year goes head to head with one of the worst movies of the year. As we look at Gravity and Runner Runner, I’ll let you decide which movie is a heart-stopping film, while the other movie makes you wish your heart would stop.
You’ve seen the previews and clips of Sandra Bullock in space getting the crap kicked out of her. The marketing for this movie could not be better. Each preview gave you a glimpse of the destruction and the panic, but they cut out just as every situation seemed hopeless. If you worry about having anxiety and panic attacks during this movie, those feelings might be justified. Gravity is the kind of movie that doesn’t let go of you for 90 straight minutes.
Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first space mission. Her companion through much of this galactic crisis is Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), a veteran astronaut on his final mission. As these two are working outside of their shuttle, satellite shrapnel hurtles towards them at incredible speeds and destroys their shuttle and leaves the two astronauts on their own in the vast, suffocating reaches of space.
In Gravity, there is only one constant; Space hates Sandra Bullock. It wants her to die and will not stop until it succeeds. This is a survival movie like none other you’ve seen before. I promise (if you love Film and inventiveness) you will not be bored during Gravity. Far from it. Even if the movie isn’t showing dramatic destruction, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. To put it simply, Gravity is a beautiful movie. You won’t even mind that the camera spins around the characters for a decent chunk of the movie. Every single shot is done on purpose. Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Prisoner of Azkaban) has outdone himself. He has proven that he’s one of the most capable and creative directors alive.
I know many people don’t like Bullock very much. She is the focus of this movie, so that may be hard for them to swallow. But, I assure everyone else, she is fantastic. It may be too early to say this, but she has my vote for Best Actress. Keep in mind, the only two on-screen stars are Clooney and Bullock and that’s quite an undertaking and a risk for any filmmaker, but keeping Gravity as simple as possible makes it great.
Many people have asked me if this movie is comparable to 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are a few thematic visuals, but other than that, I cannot compare this to any movie. That’s what I love about film. It’s an original movie that dares to challenge what we expect in a Oscar-winning/Blockbuster/Action movie.
I rarely ever say this (because I typically hate the medium), but see this movie in 3D and on an Imax screen. It will not distract you or make the screen look darker. It puts you right on the side of the shuttle and you feel the drifting powerlessness as Dr. Stone is repairing the ship. Nerds should be happy with Gravity, even when there is massive explosions, you hear nothing.
I’m not sure if I made this clear, but Gravity is an incredible movie that film-lovers will eat up. See it now!
Runner Runner stars Justin “not ready for the big screen” Timberlake as Richie, a smug Princeton grad student working as an affiliate for an online gambling site. In an attempt to win his tuition online, he loses everything and comes up with evidence that he was cheated. (I guess) With his no money, he flies to Costa Rica and approaches the owner of the gambling site, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block takes JT under his wing and they “live large.” The feds try to use JT to take Block down and it doesn’t take long for JT to be in the middle of some pretty shady deals.
Does JT have the smarts to get out of this “life or death” situation? Does it matter?
Runner Runner may one day be a good movie. Let me explain. You find yourself staying in a hotel room and there’s nothing on TV except Teen Mom and Law and Order reruns. It’s 11:30 PM, you can’t sleep and you’ve had a few drinks and are in the transitional midst of not quite conscious, but not yet asleep. At that moment, you turn the channel to TNT and Runner Runner is on and is 20 minutes into it. You will watch the entire movie and think to yourself, “Now that wasn’t an extremely awful movie.” This is the only time that you’d be mistaken into thinking this movie approached the level of “good.”
While Timberlake may have been in one good movie, it doesn’t mean he should star in more movies. His character in Runner Runner is never once believable. I might eventually buy him as an actor if he was able to change his voice out of falsetto, and, well…act. Ben Affleck tries his best to play the tough mob boss you don’t want to mess with. Sadly, my hopes for his take on Batman are still very low. He attempts to play a ruthless character, but his delivery comes in as flat as this movie.
Runner Runner feels like it was an unmade script written during the 90’s. It has all the intensity the clever plot twists of Fair Game starring Cindy Crawford and Billy Baldwin.
Though Runner Runner is billed as a smart thriller, it is neither smart, nor thrilling. Don’t worry about seeing this movie. You’ll forget it ever existed in the next few weeks. Please go see Gravity instead.