“Gravity” is a huge hit film with audiences and critics alike. It’s breaking box office records and there’s already Oscar buzz. But instead of the usual, and now expected, buzz about a big CGI driven film being praised and recognized with an Academy Award for visual FX, this time, people are talking screenplay and actor or actress Oscars. On top of that, it’s clear that this may be the first truly respectable Hollywood movie shot in 3D. Alfonso Cuaron, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, you must be so proud of your film.
No respectable 3D movies around? Yes, James Cameron’s “Avatar” was also a huge hit, shot in highly effective 3D and did gain respect from audiences and movie critics, but it’s still more of a genre, or even a geek movie. It’s ancillary income of toys, video games, t-shirts and the like make it less a respectable drama, and more a sci-fi genre funhouse. There there is director Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” – which won Oscars for Lee, as director, and three others for cinematography, visuals and musical score. This is certainly a more than respectable performance, however, the success of Lee’s Pi hinged more on the source material – the novel – plus the director’s reputation. Also, there were no big Hollywood names involved – at least in front of the camera.
“Gravity”, as an original story fleshed out with characters portrayed by two of the biggest box office stars in the world, seems to have broken the stigma or stereotype barrier that 3D movies are only fit for big fantasy rides or the flash of say Baz Luhrman’s “The Great Gatsby” – starring Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic) and Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man). Audiences questioned why such a great landmark in literature would even need 3D treatment.
The serious drama aspect of “Gravity” – coupled with the truly stunning visuals – can’t be underestimated, because while nearly all big movies have some potential for a 3D treatment, people who have seen Alfonso Cuaron’s space trip describe it as a truly transformational adventure. It just doesn’t take 3D along as something to help market or make the film more attractive as a kind of second thought or gimmick, but fully utilizes the process to enhance the storytelling potential of the Bullock & Clooney starring tale.
Judging by the truly powerful success of “Gravity”, Hollywood studio executives and creative types alike can clearly see that 3D – while usually fun and profitable – ultimately needs the right vehicle to make it that much more spectacular. And it’s not only the fun factor that’s ramped up when 3D is employed appropriately, but the dramatic engagement of the viewer is highly intensified and made that much more special.