- Feb 20, 2001
- Livonia, MI USA
- Real Name
- Kenneth McAlinden
While previous entries in the Warner Bros. “Diamond Luxe” Blu-ray series were released to coincide with milestone anniversaries of catalog titles, this Deluxe Edition of Gravity comes only two years after the film's previous releases on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D. Are deluxe packaging, upgraded audio, and some new extras enough to merit a double dip from to the previous 2D Blu-ray? Read on and judge for yourself...
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Other
Run Time: 1 Hr. 31 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayDeluxe slim four panel foil package with glossy graphics, two disc slots, and magnetic closing feature
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/31/2015
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Phaldut Sharma
Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity sets up a simple premise involving medical engineer Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) who find themselves stranded in space after their shuttle and crew are wiped out by a storm of debris inadvertently set off by the destruction of a Russian satellite. Cuarón and his cast then proceed to milk the harrowing situation for all that its worth as Stone and Kowalski attempt to escape their predicament and return to Earth.
Gravity's mix of grounded science fiction, suspense, and assured special effects makes for a unique and entertaining experience. Cuarón's seamless blend of technical proficiency, satisfying drama, and a bravura performance by Sandra Bullock resulted in ten well deserved Oscar nominations and seven wins.
Similarly to Tom Hanks in Castaway or James Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis, Sandra Bullock must carry huge stretches of the film on her own (to be fair, George Clooney's performance is more generous than the Wilson volleyball in Castaway). She handles those sequences with aplomb, generating the necessary audience empathy and rooting interest to carry them through the film's straightforward plot and hour and a half running time with minimal lags.
Technically the film's greatest achievement is creating a plausible reality that places the viewer squarely in the predicament of the film's protagonists. From the aggressively directional sound mix with its strategic use of silence punctuated by the heavy breathing and pounding hearts of the astronauts to the seamless digital effects that place cameras where they could not possibly go, Cuarón creates an immersive experience.
The simplicity and propulsive nature of the film's plot line blended with the convincing cinematic reality created by the filmmakers helps to gloss over certain sequences of the film where more critical viewers may be inclined to say "but science ...".
Warner Bros. Pictures "Gravity" Playlist
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
This Diamond Luxe edition presents the 2D theatrical version of the film via an AVC encoded 1080p presentation at the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1. The presentation is free of artifact from the digital encoding and compression, but by design, features occasional moments where artificial grain and photographic artifacts are introduced to the digital photography to create the illusion of verisimilitude. This is in keeping with the film's "immersive experience" aesthetic, but may prevent it from reaching the threshold of "reference quality" for some viewers.
Audio Rating: 5/5
The Dolby Atmos mix is one of this releases calling cards, and its presented here via a lossless 24 Bit 48 kHz 3436 Kbps Dolby TrueHD 7.1 encoding. I was only able to listen via a 5.1 set-up that consists of four identical full range speakers plus a matched center channel and a subwoofer. Audio fidelity, dynamics, and "holosonic" effects were remarkable in this downmixed form.
The other calling card of this re-release is the "Silent Space" version of the movie that eliminates the music score entirely. It is present only via a 16 bit 48kHz 448Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 track.
All alternate language versions of the film (available in either the theatrical or "Silent Space" versions") are presented via 16 bit 48kHz 448Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and are available in English DVS, French (Quebecois), French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castillan), Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castillan), Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese.
The use of 448kbps Dolby Digital rather than 640kbs or lossless for the "Silent Space" version is a little disappointing, but was probably necessitated by the inclusion of 17 separate language tracks in addition to the Dolby Atmos mix. That being said, if I had not just listened to the Atmos mix, I might not have noticed the slight drop in fidelity as the underlying 5.1 mix is still very good.
Dolby Atmos Update: I watched this in Dolby Atmos using a 7.2.4 system configuration (4 ceiling mounted speakers). This is the 11th Dolby Atmos encoded Blu-ray I have watched, and is easily the best Dolby Atmos experience I have had. If this isn't a reference Dolby Atmos Mix, I don't know what is. In most other reviews I have talked about the ceiling speakers as a whole, but in this mix I clearly had 4 overhead channels as some effects panned across the ceiling, while other sounds were localized to a specific ceiling speaker. Mission control and other radio voices (has Ed Harris been typecast as a Mission Control Commander yet?), debris, the parachute deploying, the capsule under water, flipping through space were just some of the examples of how the ceiling channels were expertly used to pull me into into the film and envelope me in not only what was on the screen but what I imagined was happening all around me. The music was also used effectively this way as well. Seeing this in Dolby Atmos validated my decision to hold off on an eventual 4k upgrade in exchange for investing in Dolby Atmos now. -- Adam Gregorich
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Aside from the film itself, the only extra on disc one is the Silent Space version of the movie, which is presented with the same alternate language and subtitle options as the theatrical version of the film. This version of the film features an alternate sound mix that completely eliminates Steven Price's Oscar winning score. Watching the film in this way presents an eerie but intriguing experience, not necessarily superior, but complementary to the theatrical sound mix. There is a very brief Introduction from Alfonso Cuarón that can be viewed if the viewer so desires.
The bulk of the extras appear on Disc Two. Special features indicated in red font are carried over from the previous Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray released of the film. These were described in detail in Cameron Yee's review of the original 2D Blu-ray release of the film. All special features are presented in high definition sound with Dolby Digital stereo audio unless otherwise indicated below.
Looking to the Stars: The Evolution of Space Films (41:59 - Dolby Digital 5.1) Looks at the history of cinematic depictions of space travel from the earliest days of motion pictures until the present. The films are looked at from the perspective of artistic achievement, effects techniques, scientific accuracy, and reflections of technological, political and social aspects of their eras. Films discussed in detail include George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Moon, George Pal’s Destination Moon, Pavel Klushantsev’s Road to the Stars, John Sturges’ Marooned, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, George Lucas’ Star Wars, Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, and, of course, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. On camera comments are provided by a colelction of filmmakers and scholars including University of Southern California Professor and Author Nicholas J. Cull, Director/Producer Ron Howard, Director/Producer Joe Dante, Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren, Visual Effects Designer John Dykstra, Director and Special Visual Effects Supervisor Douglas Trumbull, Director Alfonso Cuarón, Author Gary Westfahl, Producer David Heyman, Visual Effects Supervisor Karen E. Goulekas, Special Effects Supervisor Neil Corbould, and Cinematographer Michael Seresin.
Gravity: The Human Experience (11:05) contains personal reflections on space travel from Alfonso Cuarón, George Clooney ("Matt Kowalski"), Heyman, Author Mary Roach, Retired NASA Astronaut Dr. Dan T. Barry, NASA Astronaut Michael J. Massimino, Writer Jonas Cuarón, Sandra Bullock ("Ryan Stone"), NASA Astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman, and NASA & ESA Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy.
Sandra’s Birthday Wish (3:21) is a humorous video recorded by Sandra Bullock to wish Alfonso Cuarón a happy birthday "from space". It employs significantly more tinfoil than the finished film.
Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space Narrated by Ed Harris (22:28)
Aningaaq - A short Film by Jonas Cuarón (6:54 - or 10:12 w/introduction)
Under the heading of "Behind the Scenes", are:
Gravity: Mission Control (1:46:37 w/”Play All”) is broken to the following individually selectable segments:
- It Began with a Story
- Initial Challenges: Long Shots and Zero G
- Previsualizing Gravity
- The Hues of Space
- Space Tech
- Sandra and George: A Pair in Space
- Final Animation
- Complete Silence
- Behind the Visor
- Fire in the International Space Station
- Dr. Stone’s Rebirth
- The Sound of Action in Space
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The Diamond Luxe edition of Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity offers upgraded Dolby Atmos audio and new special features, most notably an eerily music-free "Silent Space" version of the film's soundtrack. It comes up just short of definitive due to lack of inclusion of the much heralded 3D version of the movie, but with its deluxe packaging and reasonable list price, this is the obvious version to get for viewers interested in the 2D edition of the movie.
Reviewed By: Ken_McAlinden
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