The Greatest Puzzle Never Solved: A Review of the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!

hail caesar review

The most common criticism leveled against Hail, Caesar! is that this existential Hollywood comedy by Joel and Ethan Coen is a movie that doesn’t quite come together. The Coens get this kind of criticism all the time, including the first time they decided to set one of their movies in Hollywood. Winner of the Palm D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Barton Finkstill one of their best movies- turned what started as a fairly realistic story of a playwright-turned-screenwriter into a darkly surreal comedy, and later, into an outright nightmare. Perhaps the people who were put off by Fink’s dreamlike descent into hell are the same people who can’t find thematic cohesion beyond Caesar’s seemingly incoherent detours.

The more movies the Coens make, the clearer it becomes that they are deeply interested in cosmology. Over and over again, they ask the same question: is there any rhyme or reason to this world? The characters at the center of these movies rarely find a satisfying answer to this question, but the brothers -and their fans- always come back for more. Perhaps because, much like a Coen protagonist, we are all trying to find the right way to live.

These repeatedly unanswered quests can seem like a sick joke. The Coens are so precise and exacting in the details of their filmmaking, that their movies often feel like perfectly crafted puzzles that for some bizarre reason, cannot be solved. In fact, Hail, Caesar! features this very same metaphor in a scene where two writers are about to finish a puzzle only to discover that the last piece, inexplicably, doesn’t fit. How could it not fit, if it’s the only piece left? Just when you think you’ve understood everything there is to understand, an even bigger question appears.

The man searching answers this time around is played by Josh Brolin, and his name is Eddie Mannix, the chief of “physical production” at the fictional Capitol Pictures. The character is based on a real man of the same name, who by most accounts was a ruthless fixer who worked for MGM and would do anything in his power to keep the studio and its stars’ images clean. Unlike the real-life Mannix, Brolin’s character is a deeply religious man with a moral dilemma. Eddie loves his job, and he loves the movies, but how do frivolous entertainments fit into the world’s cosmology?

Perhaps Eddie can find some moral appeasement in Capitol Pictures’s biggest production: “Hail, Caesar!”, a Biblical epic about a Roman soldier who turns his life around after encountering Jesus Christ. This movie seems to be Eddie’s way of making it right by the Almighty. He is so concerned with the respectability of his movie that he assembles a panel of religious leaders and asks them to find any moral objections to the movie’s depiction of God and Jesus. A priest, a pastor, and a rabbi all walk into the room, but no one is as concerned with doing God justice as Eddie.

That Eddie finds time to go to confession and consider the moral implications of his own life is impressive considering the amount of actors, directors, and gossip columnists he has to deal with on a daily basis. If that weren’t enough, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), Capitol’s biggest star and the protagonist of “Hail, Caesar”, is nowhere to be found. Turns out he’s been kidnapped by a group of communist writers that call themselves The Future. The clueless Whitlock bumbles into a room full of communists and is quickly mesmerized by their rhetoric. He too is “for the common man”. What are these communist after? Money, of course.

One would surely describe this as a particularly challenging day in Eddie’s career, but as far as dealing with kidnapped celebrities is concerned, Mannix is on top of his game. Everything that has to do with keeping the studio afloat, he can handle in his sleep. It’s the moral implications of being part of such a frivolous and seemingly decadent industry that haunt him. The stakes of Hail, Caesar! do not revolve around rescuing Whitlock and keeping the Studio afloat, but around Eddie’s salvation. Midway through the film he is offered a job at Lockheed Martin, a “real” job, he is assured. A job that matters.

Behind the bells and whistles of a comedy that finds ample time to let the audience glimpse Capitol Pictures’s many productions -including westerns, melodramas, and musicals- lies a very personal movie. Eddie Mannix’s search to find value in his life can be interpreted as a representation of the Coens’ own struggles with their art. After mocking all ideologies, particularly communism and religion, the Coens find salvation in the frivolous pleasures of the movies. Film critic David Ehrlich is right on the money when he compares Hail, Caesar! to The Grand Budapest HotelBoth movies argue for art’s value, but where Budapest is madcap and propulsive, Caesar is eerie and disconcerting.

The most effective way in which Hail, Caesar! argues for the movies are its own superficial pleasures. What we see of the movies being produced at Capitol Pictures isn’t very profound -and often dumb and ridiculous- but it’s also incredibly enjoyable. The most impressive of these moments is a song-and-dance sequence featuring Channing Tatum in a sailor uniform that could be described as overlong and self-indulgent if it weren’t so delightful. Tatum, once again, proves that he is this generation’s closest equivalent to Gene Kelly; and the Coens, that they understand that movies are, above all, entertainment.

The magic of the movies is on full display in Hail, Caesar! I was particularly impressed by how the amount of showmanship to the performances, and the role of physicality in impressing the audience. One forgets about the possibility that some of the feats in the movie could’ve been achieved with the help of computers because watching Tatum tap-dance is as transfixing as a live circus act. It’s also impressive when simpleton cowboy Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich in the movie’s standout performance) does lasso tricks with spaghetti, and when sexy Carlotta Valdez (Veronica Osorio) demonstrates the trick to dancing with “so much fruit on her head”.

If there are any weaknesses to Hail, Caesar!, they probably have to do with its rather abrupt ending and the often bizarre rhythms of its pacing. At the same time, the bizarre nature of the movie could mean that those qualities are perfectly intentional. The movie is packed with characters, stories, detours, and plot developments that, at first glance, have little to do with each other. Upon further inspection, they might still not make sense. Like most of the Coens’ movies, not all the pieces might fit in this puzzle. But by the time Eddie Mannix finds value in the trivial product he helps produce, the audience has found value in the movie’s own superficial pleasures.

Grade: 9 out of 10

Forwards, Backwards, and Forwards Again: The “Blockbuster Method” is Applied to Brad Bird’s ‘Tomorrowland’

Disney's TOMORROWLAND..Casey (Britt Robertson) ..Ph: Film Frame..?Disney 2015

One of the big struggles of my pop culture life has always been to understand the public’s relationship with the concept of “cool.” That is why, despite my interest in the subject, I’ve never been able to write coherently about music. Popular music, above all other arts and genres, seems to be harshly governed by a distinction between what is and isn’t cool. More often than not, I can identify what people will think is cool and what they will deem uncool. My problem is not recognizing what will people think about a piece of art, but not grasping why they think what they think about it. In my mind, there is no reason why liking Radiohead should be any less ridiculous than liking Taylor Swift (as a matter of fact, I prefer Swift immensely). Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you about Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland.

I’m pretty sure Tomorrowland is the definition of an “uncool” movie. Building off of ideas about progress and invention that could easily be described as old-fashioned, the movie is too optimistic and idealistic for its own good. It is a noble attempt to reach out to the remaining dreamers in an otherwise cynical world that has given up hope, and thus, the incredibly cynical community that is film criticism has dismissed Tomorrowland as sugar-coated cheesiness. That’s all right. Tomorrowland wasn’t made for those critics. It was made for children, and the biggest compliment I can give the movie is that, had I seen it when I was nine years old, I would have been absolutely inspired by it.

Now, it must be said that for all its noble intentions, there are in fact, a number of disappointing flaws in Tomorrowland, and there’s no better way to analyze them than to use our very own “Blockbuster Method“®…

THE PLOT

Tomorrowland is quite obviously gets its title from one of the sections of Disneyland, but the movie isn’t quite based on the theme park. It would be more accurate to say that the movie is based on Walt Disney’s ideas about the future. It’s well known that Disney, especially in his later years, had a fascination for the future possibilities of technological advancement. That is why Disneyland had a “Tomorrowland” in the first place, and why one of Disney’s biggest dreams was the creation of his “Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow” (or Epcot), a utopian paradise that would feed the creativity of innovators and inspire amazing ideas. The community never came to be, but the idea behind it lives on in Tomorrowland. 

That is why the movie starts out at the New York World’s Fair of 1964, a time when -the movie tells us- the future was still brimming with possibility. Young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) is just a boy, but he has already managed to build a jet pack. His invention doesn’t make the cut, but a mysterious girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) gives him a special pin that allows Frank to be transported to Tomorrowland: a futuristic secret world where creative minds live side-by-side and everything’s possible.

It isn’t until that prologue is over and we’re transported to the present day that Tomorrowland really gets going. As a matter of fact, I wonder if that 1964 sequence was designed as a flashback for later in the movie and transported to the beginning after some sort of test screening, because it doesn’t really do much for the movie. If anything, it kind of spoils some of the plot’s secrets even before the movie has properly started. Anyway, that proper start is the moment we meet Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a high schooler with a thirst for knowledge and invention that finds herself in the position of a magical pin that momentarily transports her to Tomorrowland.

Casey is fascinated by the incredible things the pin allows her to see, and so, she begins a quest to find a way to reach this amazing place of futuristic innovation. Her search brings her to team up with the adult Frank Walker (George Clooney) and the aforementioned Athena as they try to go back and safe a Tomorrowland that was once full of wonder, but has now fallen into uninspired decay. This sounds like a pretty cool premise for a movie, doesn’t it? Well, the problem with Tomorrowland is that by giving you this brief summary I’ve already given away roughly half of the movie.

From there, the movie goes to some interesting places. Casey’s journey is entertaining because it harkens back to the kind of old-fashioned but edgy children’s adventures that were popular in the eighties and early nineties. The kind in which typical American life is interrupted by the sudden and mysterious presence of a fantasy and science fiction element. But once we get to our destination, Tomorrowland doesn’t seem to have enough payoff to serve its own set-up. The movie’s third act provides us with thematic value, but with little wonder and less excitement than the middle section.

The screenplay for Tomorrowland –written by Bird and Damon Lindelof- is quite a mess. Too much time is spent on that ’64 flashback, and there are many aspects of the story (Casey’s family life, for example) that are not only under-explored, but treated with uninspiring laziness. That being said, Tomorrowland is far more ambitious in its themes and ideas than most of what passes for blockbuster entertainment nowadays. It certainly has its sight on a much more grandiose goal than anything Marvel has ever put out. It only manages to reach said goal sloppily, but that’s more than enough to be commended.

THE ACTION

Considering Brad Bird’s previous credits include The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolI couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by the fact that there isn’t anything as iconic as the Burj Khalifa scene or Dash’s run on water in Tomorrowland. We do get a couple of great action set pieces. One of them is quite prominent in the trailers. It takes place in George Clooney’s character’s house, and makes good use of the fact that he is an inventor, and thus, has filled his house with booby-traps. It’s a pretty cool scene, but the action stand-out comes earlier in the movie. The fight is set at a nerdy vintage store, and it involves little girl Athena kicking some serious ass.

As is usual with this type of movies, however, the big climactic battle is the least exciting of the action sequences. But this is in large part due to Tomorrowland not wanting to be an action movie as much as it wants to be a children’s science fiction movie. Despite the well-choreographed scenes that come before the finale, Tomorrowland‘s biggest successes are neither its plot nor its action, but its themes.

THE HEROES

The actors who play the three main heroes do a good job of working around the movie’s limitations. Britt Robertson does well considering how, despite being the lead of the movie, Casey has by far the least developed backstory of the characters. She is introduced to us a “special” genius, but we see relatively little of her intelligence, since it’s more about her having good ideas and being an optimist than about her *doing* stuff. She is a thinker, not an inventor. Similarly, most of her motivation comes from innate thirst for knowledge, which is really nice to see in a girl character, but is not enough for the filmmakers, who tag in a relationship with her father that ends up being more cliched than meaningful.

Meanwhile, George Clooney proves to be invaluably cast as Frank Walker. He has the looks of a classic matinee star (the kind that would have graced the screens of 1964), but he plays a cranky curmudgeon who has lost the ability to dream. Frank is more of a grandpa than a movie star, but by casting Clooney, we can imagine a future in which Frank is not an isolated pessimist, but a handsome hero. It works pretty nicely, and Clooney’s game delivery of the movie’s comedy certainly doesn’t hurt.

The clear standout among our heroes, however, is Raffey Cassidy as Athena. I already talked about the awesome action sequence at the shop, but Athena has so much more going for her than being a little girl with amazing fighting skills. She is the most original and exciting character in the film because she, rather surprisingly, has the most poignant backstory and the clearest emotional arc. Athena is also a triumph of casting. Cassidy is not only a very charismatic child actor, but she has the look and attitude of a young Angela Cartwright, which makes her completely believable as a product of the 60s.

THE VILLAINS

Hugh Laurie plays the bad guy, but he doesn’t get much to do. If we’re being completely honest, Tomorrowland‘s real villain is not a person but a mindset. The movie is trying to fight against the inertia that comes with the cynicism of thinking the world is doomed. This movie argues -rather validly- that we have come to just accept the fact that the earth is doomed. That the fear of the future has made us stop dreaming, and stop fighting to make it better. If anything, Tomorrowland is designed as a call to arms, as a form of inspiration for a generation of young children, telling them that they can -and should- try to make the world better.

THE THEMES

Tomorrowland has a noble message, no doubt about it. But how does the movie go on about spreading said message? Ever since The Incredibles came out, a lot has been said about Brad Bird perhaps being an objectivist. The idea of a fantastical land where great minds are free to do whatever they want surely sounds objectivist on paper, but while Bird’s vision clearly starts with a little of Ayn Rand, it goes into far more socialistic directions. The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Tomorrowland all end with collaboration. With people not being able to do it alone, but with the world collaborating and doing their part in greatness. Such views might not be that popular in our inclusive age where every child gets a prize just by participating, but it is realistic. Some people are more exceptional than others, and that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our part to play.

This is a good place to point out how Tomorrowland‘s message can hinder the structure of the movie. By trying to be a movie about collaboration, Tomorrowland sacrifices the clarity of Casey’s hero’s journey. She is initially presented as “special”, as the one who will change the fate of Tomorrowland and the world. By the end, she has worked together with Frank and Athena to enact change, but she hasn’t been your typical chosen one. It’s an interesting discrepancy that is wrongly accentuated by the movie’s messy script. The movie could’ve done much better with Casey’s uniqueness being tossed out completely. Making her just one of many exceptional minds would’ve been the more coherent -and valuably original- way to go.

As for the movie’s ultimate message, many critics have decried the film’s sermonic approach and its hokey optimism. I find those qualities appropriately cheesy. This is, after all, a movie about caring. About taking things seriously, and about being an optimist. It’s quite telling that the movie harkens back to ’64, because while the sixties provided the culture with innumerable valuable social changes, they also ushered in decades of cynic coolness. Ever since I can remember, caring has always been uncool. Tomorrowland asks us to care. It asks us to be bright and shiny instead of dark and gritty.

The thing about Tomorrowland is that its message is far too ambitious to be perfectly supported by its execution. There is nothing particularly bad about the movie, but there is the feeling that such grandiose themes could have only worked within an equally superb product. At this point, it’s not worth it to think about what could have been. What we have, is a plucky, if imperfect, movie that spends all of its energy (and it has lots of it) trying to communicate with its audience. Tomorrowland is not only earnest, but it is proud of it. It might be old-fashioned, and it might be uncool, but its ambition is so big and its intentions so noble that I can’t help but admire it.

Grade: 7 out of 10

2005 Project Batch 4: Good Night and Good Luck, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Caché

cachebannerThe 2005 Project continues…

goodnightandgoodluckposterGood Night and Good Luck (Directed by George Clooney)

Consider the fact that this was made right in the middle of the Bush presidency, and that, at its core, it was clearly intended to be a straight-on critique of the President’s policies, his decisions regarding the war in Iraq, and especially the disappointing coverage of the news on the part of the American press by looking at the great journalists of the past.

Also consider the fact that, years later, when Aaron Sorkin tried to do essentially the same thing in “The Newsroom”, he came up with one of the most tone-deaf and out-of-touch television series of the past decade.

With those things in mind, I can’t help but be incredibly impressed by how elegant a movie ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ is. The secret of its success: referring to the original material, by showing actual footage of Senator McCarthy, and turning the movie into something as close to a documentary as possible. The fact that the black-and-white photography, the production design, and the costumes all so perfectly evoke the time certainly help. And I’m a sucker for depictions of interesting work environments, so I got a kick out of watching these people be great at what they do.

This elegance makes this clearly Clooney’s best movie (that I’ve seen), and hinted at a bright career that has so far, sadly, not lived up to the expectations. Think of the puzzling messiness and lack of structure of ‘The Monuments Men’, or the immature and simplistic script of ‘The Ides of March’. I can hardly believe it’s the same man that was confident enough to rest a movie’s success on David Strathairn’s face.

wallaceandgromitposterWallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Directed by Nick Park, Steve Box)

On the one hand, it’s easy to see that Wallace and Gromit are better suited to a shorter format. On the other, this is a mighty fine movie.

Most raves of the movies at the time it came out pointed out how refreshing it was, amongst a sea of computer animated Shrek knock-off, to see proof of human involvement in the animation (a frequent example was how you can see traces of the animators’ fingertips in the clay figurines).

The sad part is that those feelings remain true to this day. We still have Laika, but with Ghibli calling it quits (at least for now) and Aardman seemingly inactive, I’m wondering if anything but CG will ever come back to the mainstream.

As for ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, it might overstay its welcome a little bit, but it still features the clever wit of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, and it gets points for Helena Bonham Carter’s wonderful Lady Tottington, and introducing us to Ralph Fiennes’ comedic talents.

As one of the most popular reviews on Letterboxd points out, it’s kind of amazing that Dreamworks gave Nick Park a bunch of money so he could make what is essentially a movie about “marrow-growing contests in Lancashire”. Nick Park is a cool dude. I wish he worked more often.

CacheposterCaché (Hidden) (Directed by Michael Haneke)

First things first. That ending. I know. It’s frustrating. I don’t know what it means. Is it perhaps the ultimate example of Haneke’s contempt for the audience? Probably. However, Haneke is also a very talented dude. Watching ‘Caché’ as a mystery might be a pointless exercise. Watching it as metaphor might not.

I’ve found that beyond his fetishism, Haneke is quite a master when it comes to symbolism. What does ‘Caché’ have to say about the War on Terror, which was at full swing back when it premiered at Cannes? And what does it have to say about France’s (and Europe’s) history with other nations, particularly Islamic ones? In other words, why is the cock decapitated?

Perhaps more interestingly, how does ‘Caché’ read after the tragic events of earlier this year and the whole ‘Je suis Charlie’ campaign? Who or what is hidden here? Is it the camera that shoots these people’s lives? Or is it our main character’s (and thus France’s) history? How do we assign blame? How do we sleep at night? And why does Haneke insist on making movies about cruel children?

What does it all mean? Haneke may or may not have the answers, but his movies sure as hell inspire good conversation.

‘The Monuments Men’

The Monuments Men

The big story behind George Clooney’s latest movie, The Monuments Men, is that it was once positioned for a December 2013 release, the perceived ideal calendar date for Oscar Consideration, to later be pushed back to the far less competitive cinematic landscape of February. The assumption was that the push meant The Monuments Men was either not a very good movie, or more of a popcorn entertainment than an awards contender. After all, in recent years, being pushed back from a December release date ended up benefitting Shutter Island and The Great Gatsbyboth of which ended up crossing the 100 million dollar mark at the U.S. box office. I don’t know if The Monuments Men will end up becoming a financial hit (the massive success of The LEGO Movie makes me think its chances aren’t that good), but I do know that the assumptions about its quality ended up being right. It is not a very good movie.

The big problem is that The Monuments Men is a structural nightmare. Not that it has an experimental or innovative structure that doesn’t quite work, but something much more embarrassing. It has a deep editing and scriptwriting problem. I know George Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov know how to make good movies (there is proof of that), but the screenplay of The Monuments Men is just a mess. The movie is set in World War II, and tells the story of a special task force created to protect artifacts of cultural value from being stolen and destroyed by the Nazis. That is how a group of rag-tag artists and intellectuals, end up making their way through the European battlefields trying to protect the most valuable pieces of art.

The core team of unlikely heroes is made up of Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean DuJardin and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville. There is also Cate Blanchett in a supporting role as a French woman reluctantly working for the Nazis. As you can see, this is a pretty fantastic cast. These are all people capable of squeezing the juice out of a scene, and for the most part, they do it. If you were to catch The Monuments Men on cable one day, and you watched a single scene, you would probably see some pretty terrific acting and get curious enough to keep watching the movie. Only then will you realize that while these are all good scenes, the transitions from one to the other don’t work at all.

It’s rare to know exactly what doesn’t work in a movie, but in the case of The Monuments Men, it is absolutely obvious. It is as if all the scenes were meant to be big moments. They work on their own, but when put one next to the other, you realize it’s all payoff without build-up. I have a few theories on why this might have happened. Either Clooney and Heslov thought they had such a charismatic cast that they didn’t really need any time for us to get to know the characters, or there is a lot of movie left in the cutting room floor. As it stands now, The Monuments Men feels more like a highlights reel than a cohesive movie, which is a shame, considering the great talent at hand.

There is one thing that is exceptional about The Monuments Men, though, and that is Alexandre Desplat’s score. The music harkens back to the sounds of classic Hollywood epics and adventures, and actually manages to make a surprisingly effective job of holding the movie together and giving it a smoother flow. It is, of course, not enough to make it a good film, but it features some pretty awesome music, and gets an A for effort.

Grade: 4 out of 10

Gravity (Review)

gravity

Director Alfonso Cuarón is one of the most interesting and respected filmmakers working today. Two of his previous films, Y Tú Mamá También and Children of Men, are two of the best films of the past decades. I would call both of them masterpieces, but I’m still not sure if someone can make more than one masterwork. That definition of the word “masterpiece” seemed like was going to become an even bigger problem with the arrival of Gravity, his first film in seven years. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and went to on to garner rave reviews from every place it played at. Critics and filmmakers were quick to praise the movie and call it a masterpiece. Now, it’s on theaters and the mere mortals like myself get to experience Cuarón’s 3D extravaganza, which somehow both does and does not live up to what was expected from the festival reaction.

The unquestionably great part about Gravity is the visuals. It’s almost impossible while watching the film to contemplate the idea that this has to have been shot on earth, using filmmaking and computer graphics to achieve the look and feel of floating around in space. While this is superbly done, it’s also not perfect. There are a few moments in which the CG imagery is apparent and considering the hyper realistic style Cuarón is going for, is weird to find moments in which the director makes us aware of the presence of a fourth wall, like when a couple of water drops crash against the camera. But those are just minor flaws that wouldn’t keep the film from being a masterpiece, which sadly, it is not.

In the long wait for Gravity, a lot of rumors arose surrounding what the movie was going to be about. I think a lot of people were awaiting a 2001-like space adventure with philosophical undertones. What Gravity really is, though, is a straight forward story about a woman trying to survive after a catastrophic accident in space. Sandra Bullock plays astronaut Ryan Stone, who is aided by another astronaut played by George Clooney in her quest for survival. The fact that the movie is essentially a thriller is not a disappointment, in fact, its best moments are those that build on the tension of whether or not Bullock will achieve the next task in her quest for survival. The experience of watching the best scenes in Gravity is exhilarating, some of the most thrilling filmmaking of the year is in display here. However, there are two big flaws that keep Gravity for being one of the year’s best movies.

First, Gravity is not content with being “just” a thriller, but it’s also not interested in going in finding the depths that a more intellectually substantial film would require. The first sign of this is when we get a very awkwardly scripted scene in which we get some of Bullock’s character backstory. A backstory that is groan-inducing in its unoriginality. We didn’t really need the movie to take a look at deeper philosophical questions and we especially didn’t need for Cuarón and his son Jonás (who co-wrote the script) to try and deepen the movie in such a half-assed way. And so it is that later, rght after one of the movie’s most poignant and visceral moment (without many spoilers, this is when Bullock’s character has a radio conversation aboard the russian spaceship), we get a terrible, terrible series of scenes plagued with dialogue as clunky as to have been written by James Cameron.

The second problem with Gravity is its use of sound. The movie opens with a title card that tells us there is no sound in space. And it is at its most thrilling when it follows this premise, letting us know how truly terrifying the idea of being trapped in a completely soundless vacuum is. Many other powerful moments, however, are undercut with an overbearing, frustratingly generic and loud score (one of the most tiring trend to come out of Christopher Nolan’s Inception). Not to mention how puzzling and nonsensical the decisions of what does and doesn’t get a sound effect is. Things randomly do or don’t make sound for no apparent reason. These two aspects become increasingly frustrating as the movie goes along, since it opens with a scene that promises an interesting approach to sound and a daring and original aural experience.

Despite the flaws, which are frustrating, the experience of watching the movie is quite something. I’m not a huge fan of 3D, but I’d say that the inflated prize in order to get the IMAX screen is worth it. I would say go watch Gravity and enjoy its thrills, just don’t expect it to be a transcendent experience; but the truth is that there is something incredibly frustrating and sad about the failures of this movie. Avatar, Hugo, Life of Pi and now Gravity have been movies praised for the work of their auteurs with the tools and visuals of 3D. And while they are technically impressive, they all lack in the screenplay department. I’m still waiting for the first great 3D movie to be made. And it seems like I’ll keep on waiting.

Grade: 6/10