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The Centre Of Gravity

Friday 22 November 2013, 17:43

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

I posted recently about the movie Gravity and asked which format you preferred seeing it in - 2D or 3D? Here I pick out some of the many responses to my question.

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    Comment number 1.

    Why can I never think of anything witty to say when I get here first!

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    Comment number 2.

    Last week I went to see it at Screen on the Green in 2D and again this week at the Imax in 3D and I must say, I preferred it in 2D. Maybe its because the first viewing had greater impact? The large glasses were a little annoying and I found myself looking around and at the reflections within the glasses! I did not feel immersed within the film like I did at Screen on the Green? I'm still very surprised by the good doctor and his views on seeing this in 3D?

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    Comment number 3.

    I have not seen it yet but when I do it will be in 2D. 3D makes me seasick, not a joke.

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    Comment number 4.

    I would like to see a blog entry here in 3D. I'm sure the BBC will lend you a 3D camera.

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    Comment number 5.

    I am not a massive 3D fan, I don't think it normally adds to the impact a film has- it can even make a film less impressive as you are expecting more once wearing the glasses. But when it comes to Gravity (and space in general, having scene the NASA imax movie) 3D makes so much difference for the better. I have told friends they must see Gravity in 3D to experience the effect the film maker wants it to have. I loved every minute of this movie and was constantly in awe of the visuals, partly due to the 3D. Only see this movie in 3D!

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    Comment number 6.

    Well, I did see Gravity in 3D and in many ways it is very impressive but ... the technology still doesn't quite work for me. It's hard to describe but in many scenes, instead of a smooth transition of perspective from foreground to background, you get a series of flat planes receding into the distance. I'm aware that a lot depends on factors such as the quality of the projection, the glasses worn, the viewer's eyesight and so on, but all I can say is that this effect did not matter so much in films like Hugo and Life of Pi, which were fantasies after all, but in a 'lifelike' setting there is just a irritating wrongness about what you see on the screen.

    Gravity has been so overpraised that its flaws are that much more disappointing. Specifically, sound cannot travel in a vacuum but that doesn't stop the viewer being slammed over the head but a very intrusive score (ooh, danger, here's an exciting bit about to happen, etc). The death / rebirth symbolism is, frankly, unsubtle to put it kindly and the dialogue is even worse. And *SPOILER ALERT* don't get me started on the reappearance of George Clooney as a deus ex machina in case the poor little woman can't work out herself how to save the day.

    OK, all this may be niggles. Gravity is a good film, uplifted by a splendid performance from Sandra Bullock, and I would certainly encourage anyone to see it. It just, to me, isn't the masterpiece that it is cracked up to be.

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    Comment number 7.

    For me, 3D should not be noticeable 5 minutes into the film. In the same way that you forget you're watching a blu-ray instead of a DVD, or even a colour film over black and white, or surround sound over laptop speakers - 3D should simply improve the viewing experience, not become the experience. I saw Gravity in 3D and thought that the only bits that didn't work, that distracted, were the tears and flames because (quite rightly pointed out) I thought "that's really cool 3D". I have to admit I'm on the fence with the exploding shrapnel coming at your face - it was gimmicky and distracting the first time it happened but through immediate repetition it succeeded in making me even more on edge, more excited, more nervous.

    The success of the 3D in Gravity is that you feel that vastness of space and don't think it's because of the goofy glasses. That being said, I haven't seen it in 2D to compare.

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    Comment number 8.

    I went to see Gravity with four co-workers. Afterwards we were were ALL of the same opinion.Which was, visually beautiful but actually quite boring. It does show you what being in space is like, but that isn`t enough to suppress the reality of a script that lacks credibility or tension. A film needs great characters , and these two, just weren`t.

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    Comment number 9.

    I choose this to make it my first experience of 3D. I hated it. Go back to your original position, Mark.
    on 3D, it is a distraction. I don't want things floating towards me and it stops engaging with the film. I then saw it again in 2D, which is the way to see it. On the film, 3 stars at best. Some hokey Hollywood, maudlin touches.

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    Comment number 10.

    GRAVITY is not a 2D film.

    Every element of this film has been engineered to favour 3D…. AND IT WORKS PERFECTLY!

    THIS FILM PROVES that, to make a 3D movie, the subject matter and film making style must be adapted specifically for it.

    1) Subject matter is geared towards the 3D experience.
    They're in space - white objects against a black background with the stars all the way off in infinity.
    Using a situation with the biggest depth of shot imaginable is perfect for 3D. The objects are literally floating in front of you with no background information to confuse your brain.

    2) Editing style is slow and the movement is done 'in camera'.
    It's no coincidence that the first shot is 17 minutes long depicting a traumatic event. On an animalistic level, with hunting/danger awareness and all that stuff, this perfectly hijacks your attention without your brain having to deal with cuts. You can easily track the object until the trauma is over. After that , you're hooked. With standard 2D films adrenalin would be injected by fast edits and shaky camera. Gravity does the opposite.

    I am not a 3D nut. I completely stand alongside the 2D crew. To date 2D is by far the most dynamic way to tell a multitude of stories. But I hope Gravity is recognised as the first mega budget narrative film to favour 3D film making rather than impose the 3D tech onto familiar 2D film making conventions.

    GRAIVTY is the 'Blair Witch" of 3D.

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    Comment number 11.

    I seem to have killed the Poppins thread (where's everybody gone?); let's see what happens here.

    It hit me this afternoon just why Gravity was so good in 3D, and just why most 3D films aren't. Basically it's all about parallax. We need depth vision to locate moving objects in three dimensions. What this means is that, in terms of attention, your depth vision is only really switched on when you need to locate something moving relative to something else; the rest of the time the world might as well be flat, and you experience it as more or less flat (try shutting one eye while you're reading a book or watching TV, or indeed reading a blog post; you won't see much difference). Watching a film in 3D switches on your depth vision all the time. It feels distracting because it is: it's literally distracting your attention from the drama you're watching and focusing it on this thing moving relative to that other thing.

    Now, in what situation would you actually want to attend to "this thing is moving relative to that other thing" more or less all the time? In space, that's where - in a situation where there's no fixed point to anchor on, and the basic setup is that everything is moving relative to everything else. And that's why you don't get the Viewmaster effect (flat images on stacked planes) because you can't parse the picture in front of you into foreground, scenery and backdrop: it just looks as if everything's moving relative to everything else.

    I think Gravity is a one-off: Cuarón hit on the perfect technology for a space film and the perfect setting for 3D. Gravity is the first great 3D film, and it may be the last.

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    Comment number 12.

    Gravity wasn't made in IMAX, and as such, when blown up to a full size IMAX screen, looks very soft and almost out of focus. It's not a good way to see it at all.

    As for 3D, the glasses are heavy, the light loss is annoying, the polarising light septation looks ridiculous, and it adds nothing to the story. At least Gravity had much less cardboarding than usual - compared to the trailer for The Hobbit 2 (which looks like a pop up children's book) - it at least looks like real life.

    All of this is a distraction though. Gravity was a single action sequence repeated many times over, filled with terrible nonsensical science, and needlessly stuffed with religious nonsense. It also made scientists look like idiots, which is a deeply offensive thing to do.

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    Comment number 13.

    Now that the backlash has begun, we can at least see that we always had a name for it:


    (not here all week, but don't make the waitress suffer for it...)

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    Comment number 14.

    I'm an English speaker living in France and last week had the choice to see the original English version of Gravity in 2D or a French dubbed 3D version. 2D in English was the decision but I wish we had seen the 3D French, despite my average level of spoken French (no English subtitles) and dislike of any dubbed films. In 2D it was visually excellent, but not quite good enough to overpower the film's flaws. Still a good watch, but I feel in 3D I would have had a better experience.

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    Comment number 15.

    I took my nine month old son along to a parent & baby screening of Gravity (in 2D) as I thought it would be worth seeing on the big screen. I'm not sure I cold have coped with 3D and trying to entertain baby at the same time!

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    Comment number 16.

    I saw it in 2D at my local, tiny cinema and still found it an incredible film, and highly immersive. I think it helps, (regardless of screen format), when the audience behaves themselves! In the end, if the screen is larger than your tv, the room is dark and the sound is up high then you should be fully capable of immersing yourself.
    Recently though, this little 2-screen place has had a refurb and had digital technology installed. They had put money aside during this modernisation to install 3D. But they decided to do a survey of their regular customers and the overwhelming response was people were just not interested in having 3D at their little local. So, they used that money to purchase proper air-conditioning -- a much wiser investment for a cinema if you ask me!

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    Comment number 17.

    Saw it in 3D as I couldn't match the 2D timings. Left disappointed with 3D as always with the blurry dark version of the film with the obligatory OMG it's coming out of the screen moments. I still fail to understand what it is supposed to add and look forward to it's death and it's next appearance in the 2030s...

    Enjoyed the film, flaws and all as well as the nods to other films which was a nice touch. Thought Sandra's face looked like it had had one face lift too many, which is a real shame though perhaps not much of a surprise.

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    Comment number 18.

    As an opportunistic cinema goer….'I have time, I'm near the cinema, what starts in ten minutes?", I saw Gravity on a small screen at Eden Court in Inverness. It was 2D and the best choice of seats was about 10' from the screen. Who needs IMAX eh? Anyway, I left disappointed. There were simply too many implausible scenarios for me to happily suspend my imagination for the duration of the film. Also, Sandra Bullock's character annoyed me with her infinite Aah aah aah aah aah aah's. I can only imagine that the experience of viewing on a large screen and in 3D must have been stunning enough to have excused the rather one dimensional plot.


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

This twice-weekly video blog is the place where he airs his personal views on the things that most fire him up about cinema - and invites you to give your own opinions.

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