Gravity | The Adventure Zone: Balance, "Murder on the Rockport Limited"
Defying science and sense.
MOVIE REVIEW /// Gravity
Movie summary: Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space. (IMDb)
Gravity is one of those movies that justifies a certain cinematic technology, and that's 3D. I first saw this movie in IMAX 3D and it still remains one of the single greatest cinematic experiences I've ever had. Unfortunately, I don't have a 3D 22m × 16.1m (IMAX standard measurements) screen at home, so the experience is very different.
You can't help but lose some of the grandeur and wonder of the images when what you're watching is much, much smaller than its optimum viewing format. It still looks good, but knowing what it's supposed to look like means I just can't help but compare and contrast. Weirdly, if you were unlucky enough to miss out on this movie in cinemas, you're lucky that you won't know what you're missing when watching at home.
As for the sound, that suffers less in moving from IMAX to home watching, even if there is still the expected dip thanks to, again, not having a cinema-quality set-up at home. But the sound design and mixing is so, so good and one of the technical highlights of Gravity, with it being no surprise that this movie won awards for that aspect of the movie. This is an audio delight even with just a regular set of speakers.
I can't comment too much on the characters without spoiling the story because of the nature of the movie, so I'll just say that Clooney and, especially, Sandra Bullock are great considering how limited communication proves to be for them. Despite how fast-paced the plot is, Bullock's character, Dr Ryan Stone, has a pretty great arc that leaves her a believably very different person by the end of the movie.
And that fast pace is the main thing that differentiates this from a personal favourite of the 'stranded off-world' premise, The Martian. In that movie, there are a lot of slower moments which allow us to get to know the many characters and for lots of humour. In Gravity, Kowalski (Clooney) and Stone have so little time to rest and recover, that there's practically no humour at all, instead replaced by constant dread and anxiety - which works for this movie, so definitely not a negative.
Gravity is a good movie, but definitely loses something in the transition from IMAX 3D to watching it at home, with that scale and spectacle simply impossible to replicate unless you're super rich. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are both great, even if there are a couple of fanservice moments for the former, and it's still enjoyable to watch - if you didn't see it on the big screen, I think most people would like it quite a lot.
[7/10 - Good]
PODCAST REVIEW /// The Adventure Zone: Balance, "Murder on the Rockport Limited"
Story summary: Our heroes are sent out on their first mission as Reclaimers for the Bureau of Balance. Their initial task is an impossible one: Do they possess the competence required to be on time for a train? (The Adventure Zone)
One problem with re-visiting stuff you like is the potential to notice issues that you didn't before, and that's unfortunately what happened to me with this "Murder on the Rockport Limited" story arc of The Adventure Zone. It doesn't ruin things, but it does mean I had to focus more on the characters because the issue completely undermined the murder-mystery story Griffin was telling.
That issue? Taako, Merle and Magnus are sent to retrieve an artifact from a train, where it has already been sealed in a special vault that will take an hour to open by the train's engineer, which he can only do at the end of the journey. Except he takes the trio's weapons and... puts them in the vault. Maybe I missed something this time and they're magically inserted somehow?
But if I didn't, then the adventure ends the second he opens the vault as they can retrieve the artifact. Or the guys get to keep their weapons and the already limited number of battles become a lot easier to deal with - it doesn't really help that there's nothing noticeable in the fighting that makes them being unarmed necessary, so the decision to put the weapons in the vault just introduces a plot hole for no real reason. Hell, letting them keep their weapons and be put under suspicion of the murder by the other characters could've made things more interesting.
As it is, "Murder on the Rockport Limited" relies on the steady stream of hilarity from the McElroy family as they work their way through the story, with Justin (Taako) proving to be the real highlight with some of his comments and observations - a personal favourite being his hysterical laughter at another character's apparent mental breakdown as Griffin tries to remember what voice he had in-character.
It's a good thing that this family is so much fun to listen too, because this arc doesn't really feel like it fits properly in a fantasy world, thanks to taking place almost entirely on a train, and the enclosed spaces mean the world doesn't really get built up in any meaningful way either. It's still enjoyable to experience, but definitely not what was needed after the heavy exposition dump of "Moonlighting".
"Murder on the Rockport Limited" is a good continuation of the story, but the restricted locations and number of characters means it still relies more on the McElroys and their interactions with each other rather than anything in the fantasy world they've created. Also, a flaw in the set-up means that the story doesn't feel that satisfying if you're unable to ignore it (like me!).