Trailer Tuesday: Gravity

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies.

When my wife and I see a new movie trailer, either in the theater or at home, we almost always look at each other afterwards to get an sense of each other’s quick reaction to the trailer.  Usually they’re in sync, as we typically like the same sorts of films.  “Stupid” comedies get an eye roll, horror films usually get a sarcastic yes followed by a determined no, big, loud action movies typically get an indulgent smile and a shake of the head, while many others get a noncommittal shrug or head bob indicating that we need to see more before deciding.  Even when we don’t agree, we usually know what reaction the other one will have before we look, so I wasn’t surprised to see her emphatic no following the first trailer we saw for Gravity.  Take a look at the latest one below, and read on for my comments:

My wife doesn’t like elevators due to their combination of heights and enclosed spaces, so there was no way she would want to see Gravity.  But regardless of your degree of claustrophobia and acrophobia, this is one seriously intense trailer.  It grabs ahold of that “Holy Shit!” emotional reaction that so few trailers manage to capture.  (Another one that managed that was the trailer for Cloverfield which was considerably better than the film itself, something I hope will not be true for Gravity.)

There’s very little story to be gleaned from this trailer, though I imagine that’s intentional as early word on the film gives the impression that there’s not a lot of traditional story in the movie.  The trailer opens with the following lines:

AT 372 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH

THERE IS NOTHING TO CARRY SOUND

NO AIR PRESSURE

NO OXYGEN

LIFE IN SPACE IS IMPOSSIBLE

I would say that probably sums up the premise of Gravity nicely.  Our first image is of Sandra Bullock spinning away from a damaged space shuttle while attached to the shuttle’s mechanical arm.  In typical Alfonso Cuaron, the camera goes from wide shots of the action to tight shots on Bullock as she tries to detach herself from the arm, while George Clooney tries to help her over radio.  The trailer really captures how desperate a situation like that would be.  In many ways it’s the opposite of Apollo 13, which focused on the human element and the drama of those 3 men and the entire crew on the ground that fought to bring them home.  Gravity is all about isolation and desperation with little shown in the way of interpersonal drama.  We get a bit of Bullock’s character’s backstory when she tells us and George Clooney that she has a daughter, but most of the trailer’s focus is on the terrifying reality of what it would be like to be stranded in space.

The action and effects look amazing, as does the sound design which has a realism rarely seen onscreen.  Bullock’s panicked breathing is far more scary than the sound of crashing satellites and space stations could ever be.  It’s nice to think that we’ve advanced in awareness to the point where people don’t have to point out that there’s no sound in space, but the opening message of the trailer seems to think otherwise.  (I can already hear the people complaining that the movie didn’t have the sounds of explosions and wrenching metal during the crash sequences.)

Cuaron has made some spectacular films (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanChildren of MenY Tu Mama Tambien), but hasn’t directed anything since 2006.  This film seems to have everyone talking, and will probably catapult him back into the spotlight.  As for Clooney and Bullock, they’re both near the top of their game, and working on a film like this is exactly the sort of atypical film choice I like to see superstars making.  The rave reviews it’s already getting seem to show that the film will pull off the promise of the trailer, but you never know for sure how you as an individual will react to the final product.  But I’m definitely intrigued by Gravity, even if I have to end up seeing it alone.

What do you think?  Am I the only one who discovered I was holding my breath when the trailer ended?  BeforeGravity, what was the most intense trailer you’ve seen in recent years?  Are you excited about Gravity?  Let me know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Trailer Tuesday: Gravity

  1. The trailer is well wrought, and the pedigree of the actors and director are impeccable. For me it boils down to what I want to spend money on, and is it something I’d enjoy.

    I have this awful thing for cheerful Disney endings…

    I’ve done some scuba diving in cold murky water, which is as close to space exploration as it gets for most of us (alien environment, no gravity, cold, dependent on your carried/limited air supply). Though there is actually something (water) to push against (as opposed to the emptiness of space, where the heroine can’t control her spinning fall), there is still a lot of floundering about in an alien environment. You can easily go out of control, falling, floating up too fast, or teetering in the wrong direction. It’s also quite easy to go totally claustrophobic (enclosing wetsuit, tight, hoods, facemask, breathing apparatus) and want to just claw to the surface… which will kill you. I’ve redlined my air supply on a wreck dive off the Delaware coast. I was at 80 ft. in dark forest green water with twenty feet of visibility, and a safe ascent rate, and safety stop that would take me to the surface in about three minutes. I had a pony bottle, a spare tiny tank of air. I had practiced the switch from the main tank regulator to the pony bottle regulator in shallow water.

    I had to do it now at 80 feet. There is no room for mistakes.

    it required a level of “do you know where your towel is” calm. Somehow, I did it. Then I surfaced fairly far from the only solid object in the entire world: the small dive boat. Ocean currents can drag you away from the boat, which is why you surface going up the anchor line. It was fine, it was an experience, I was surrounded by other more experienced divers… but I learned something of that feeling of being alone in space. On another dive, I lost track of my dive buddy as we surfaced, and spent a few minutes floating at 15 ft. in a big bubble of blue-green water; I was the only thing in the entire universe.

    I spent the entire time in the theater watching “Open Water” yelling (silently) at the screen: NOOOOOOOOOO YOU IDIOT DON’T DO THAT NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! What a dumb movie.

    Not sure if I would find Gravity an entertaining experience. I suspect that it (if as well wrought as the trailer suggests) it will be an interesting experience.

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  2. I keep seeing the short version of the trailer as a tv ad and doing the ::eyeroll, look at spouse:: thing, but this full version and finding out that the director did those other movies has me more interested now.

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  3. I don’t think I’ll be seeing this one in the theaters; quite frankly because I think Cuaron is too capable in this directing. He could be the only one making this incredibly intense.
    I saw Children of Men at home and a couple of the scenes in that movie was almost too intense for me. Yes, it was his long takes, and I think he’ll use them again here.

    On the other hand I think I *will* see it on DVD.

    In regards to Bullock and Clooney, I enjoy both of them. As far as I’ve understood it, the role Bullock plays means that she’ll more or less make or break the movie; can we connect to her role or not? If she pulls that off, wow.

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