by Michael S. Palmer
As a film geek, it's all too easy to slip into hyperbole. Movies are emotional, right? When you have certain gut reactions, you can't help but let fly with, "this flick is the worst-best-least-most I have ever-seen-this-year-used-to-love-changed-my-life-made-me-want-to-shove-a-hot-poker-in-my-eye."
Personal weakness not withstanding, I say with zero reservations that Alfonso Cuarón's 'Gravity' is probably a masterpiece (we'll let time and multiple viewings inform here), and is most definitely a technological marvel and a filmmaking master class. Honestly, not everyone's going to connect with 'Gravity' -- and that's totally cool too -- but for my money, it's one of the most visceral and effective and suspenseful thrillers ever. Regardless of whether or not you love or hate (or just don't care about) the film afterwards...
'Gravity' is a Must See In Cinemas movie.
If you are at all able, go find the best auditorium with the biggest screen in the nicest theatre in your town or city. For some, that's going to be in IMAX 3D and its proprietary 7.1 surround sound format (5 front channels, stereo rear). For others, if you are one of the lucky few to live anywhere near the 300-400 screens worldwide equipped with Dolby Atmos, run-don't-walk to hear this extraordinary sound mix as soon and as often as you can. There aren't enough Atmos auditoriums yet in the world, and the movies that play in these houses don't last long. If you love surround sound, and I know many of you do, don't miss out.
Other than the glorious 'Life of Pi', 'Gravity' is hands down the smartest and most precise Atmos mix to date (granted, there haven't been many). It literally makes you feel like you are in space -- that you are the camera -- and Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are floating all around you. And then when the music and the sound effects spin up into full effect…
Just go hear it for yourself.
There's a reason director / co-writer Alfonso Cuarón calls Atmos the sound system he always dreamed of. It's a system that offers perfect separation, depth, and full range in every single one of the speakers. The speakers on the ceiling also compliment the experience, the immersive experience of cinema." To learn more about the film's sound mix, here are a couple videos with Cuarón and re-recording mixer Skip Lievsay talking about their process and how they took the base 7.1 sound mix and, "doubled down, made it even more precise."
UPDATE: The original version of this article stated 'Gravity IMAX 3D' had a different aspect ratio than the non-IMAX formats. This was incorrect. All versions 'Gravity' are in the director's intended 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Thanks to IMAX and to our readers for helping to correct this.