Why was Gravity nominated for Best Picture in the 86th Annual Academy Awards? News stories about the movie continually emphasize the marvelous special effects. This is more and more common these days.
What about the story? There wasn’t much of one. Sandra Bullock’s character was given an equally slim backstory, about a dead child. That’ll please or appeal to women viewers. Still, if you’re honest with yourself, maybe brutally so, then you’ll have to concede that the story is weak with little meat on its bones.
The sub-genre of the isolated survivor(s) story has been done more deftly and memorably: remember Apollo 13? Heck, as weak of a movie as it was, that story had more meat on its bones and a better-drawn character than Ms. Bullock’s.
I remember hearing about and reading news about the Star Wars era of nearly 40-years-ago when, after its blockbuster success, George Lucas wannabes cranked out superficial retreads of those Science Fiction and Fantasy yarns.
So in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when pale and stale copies of those movies were released, and made far less money than the source material, executives scratched their heads and banged them against brick walls in order to comprehend how they screwed up.
The notorious among these copies include Starcrash, 1978, Galaxina, 1980, Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone, 1983, and The Last Starfighter, 1984. By any pseudo-objective or pseudo-subjective standard these won’t land on any Best Picture or Must-Watch movie lists. In other words they are crap. But I will admit that, when I saw that last one listed, in high school, I liked it; it was fun. The subtitle for Spacehunter is actually cool, rousing my attention.
The problem, which movie-makers struggle or refuse to grasp is that people love a great story. Surely, most every grown-up remembers a time when, as a kid he or she asked his mom or dad to “tell me a story”. Movie-goers will – and do – settle for any decent distraction or entertainment.
Sadly, we’re used to that. Settling.
Yes special effects can beautiful. Still, when people talk about Gravity, I have not heard any of them discuss its story.