Loc: Alexandria, VA
Just got back from the theater. Splurged on the IMAX 3D "experience."
The visuals are AMAZING. Really, really outstanding. GO SEE THIS MOVIE if for no other reason than the visuals. Get as big a screen as you can get. The effects shops have really outdone themselves. And although at times they do wallow in their prowess with overly-long pans and rotates, and some of the scenes are a bit over the top in stuff that's going on and the degree to which it happens, it really is a terribly impressive experience.
And any space film that has almost no sound out in space is a plus in my book - basically from the very first frame they tell you there's nothing in space to propagate sound, which just made the space geek in me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Some of the scenes where stuff just starts happening with little or no sound effects were really very amazing.
About the 3D: I saw Avatar and that pretty much put me off the current 3D trend -- it was nice but very obtrusive. I never got over the "hey! I'm watching this in THREE D!" feeling. Plus, the new technology wasn't quite there for me in terms of immersion.
Having said that: just as there are reference disks (like "300" and whatnot) for Blu Ray that are meant to show what the technology can really do, I'm going to say this film will be a reference for theater 3D moving forward. Really, a tremendous improvement over Avatar and actually stunning in some places (in spite of the many gratuitous things flying at the camera that directors/effects houses seem to think is necessary for 3D). Most of the time I actually was able to ignore the fact of the 3D and just enjoy the effect. Highly recommended if you can afford the Cadillac price ($18 where I saw it). I'll have to rethink my 3D boycott now.
As far as the story goes: a pretty much boilerplate, almost golden-age sci fi yarn. Well-done, but does require a bit of disbelief suspension in some actually quite a lot of instances, now that I think about it. The writing was wonderful in parts, not-so-great in others (the plot exposition by Mission Control was just horrid, for example; many of Sandra's bits were great). Nothing crippling or award-winning; it got the job done.
George Clooney plays George Clooney, which is always entertaining but nothing really remarkable. I could watch him read a phone book, though, and thoroughly enjoy the experience, so I'm definitely not knocking him. I'm also a Sandra fan, so I thought she was great (again, hobbled a bit by the writing, but I think she worked through it acceptably). Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control (channeling his Gene Kranz role in Apollo 13, perhaps?) was good but would have been better if he didn't have to read that horrible exposition.
Anyways, I'll second Steve's recommendation to see this film -- it's absolutely worth every penny to see in a theater, especially if you can get any or a combination of digital, IMAX and/or 3D =)
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