Was there a surcharge for technicolor?
I agree. But that doesn't mean a movie should be judged on that basis. That's just something that cinema is. To judge a movie for reasons related to that is too broad. That's what cinema is without
the story. That's what it was before they started using it to tell stories, in the 1890s. The whole point of what came after that was to make movies more complex. As if to say, "okay, we know it's experiential...now what?" Griffith, Chaplin, Murnau, Eisenstein, and hundreds after them answered that question in an infinite number of ways, story generally being at the crux of it all. What Cuaron's movie says to me is, "forget all those guys...it's the 1890s again...just be amazed by what you see." To me, that doesn't represent pure cinema so much as a kind of anti-intellectual neo-primitivism. The "year zero" mentality once again.
However, I will say that if I were
to judge a movie on that basis, Gravity would still fall short. I agree that otherwordly imagery works wonders sometimes, but Cuaron's imagery didn't do much for me. Nothing I haven't seen in a half dozen better space movies. Wrath of Khan, 2001, Empire Strikes Back, Event Horizon, and even Man of Steel transported me. With Gravity, I just felt I was inside a big theater. Having some mild fun in a theater, but definitely not immersed or transported. It's better than Avatar for sure, but that's not exactly hard.
Yes, and Coppola got the job done in 2D. His camera movements are never ornamental in the slightest, yet the movie is beyond immersive. That's because the immersion comes from the story. The greatest thing about The Godfather's visuals is that they're consistent and never jar you out of the story.
A movie needs something beyond a basic premise. Otherwise, it's just treading water. See how Bullock calls out to Clooney after she knows he's long gone. Then after another scene or two, she's STILL calling out to Clooney. I mean, I could
suspend my disbelief and say that her character just isn't willing to accept what happened. But it's pretty clear to me that Cuaron and his son just couldn't come up with any other direction for the story to go in. Compare it to the efficiency of Tim Robbins' death in Mission to Mars (love how Gravity fans avoid all mention of that film even though Cuaron borrows from it liberally to no end). He dies, his wife is sad, there's dramatic music, and then...the movie actually just moves on
. Which is what stories that move are supposed to do.
The purpose of critics used to be to promote movies that otherwise might go unseen or underappreciated. Now it seems like every critic thinks of himself as a John Hancock. They just want you to know that when the latest "instant classic" was being born, they were there rubbing their footprint into the cement.