Gravity appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This tended to be an appealing presentation.
Overall clarity seemed solid. Perhaps an outgrowth of the heavy visual effects usage, a smidgen of softness occasionally occurred, but that was a minor complaint. The vast majority of the film came across as accurate and concise. I saw no signs of jaggies or moiré effects, and the image lacked both edge haloes and source flaws.
With its orbital setting, the palette tended toward a bluish feel. This made sense and still allowed for other hues, mainly yellows influenced by the sun. The colors seemed accurate and well-rendered. Blacks appeared deep and dark, and shadows – which became a significant factor here – looked smooth and concise. I felt pleased with this transfer.
Even better, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Gravity added strong involvement to the experience. From start to finish, the movie used all the channels in an engrossing manner, as elements cropped up from around the room on a virtually constant basis.
This meant all forms of auditory material. Music was an active participant, and the mix placed dialogue in the side and rear speakers frequently. Effects added pep when appropriate – most notably in the action scenes – and placed us in the environments well, though in an unusual way. The film adhered to the silence of space, so effects came from the POVs of the characters and the occasional interior scenes. These methods created a good take on the auditory opportunities.
Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and distinctive, while music showed nice range and punch. Effects brought out clear, accurate elements as well, with nice low-end when appropriate. The soundtrack accentuated the film in a fine way.
The package includes both the 2D and 3D versions of Gravity. The picture ratings above discuss the 2D edition, but I want to examine the 3D image as well. Gravity uses 3D in an immersive manner that always suits the material. It occasionally indulges in “comin’ at ya!” moments – like a bolt that floats out of the screen as Kowalski grabs for it – but mostly it lets the 3D create a sense of depth and environment. It does this in a very natural, satisfying way.
As usual, the 3D picture quality doesn’t look as good as the 2D, but the image seems solid nonetheless. The 3D presentation provided positive clarity and generally appealing colors. I found the 3D image to work nicely.
Among formal extras, we get a nine-part documentary called Mission Control. It runs a total of one hour, 46 minutes, 36 seconds and includes comments from writer/director/producer Alfonso Cuaron, writer Jonas Cuaron, producer David Heyman, visual effects supervisor Tim Webber, visual effects producers Charles Howell and Richard Graham, executive producer Nikki Penny, compositing supervisor Anthony Smith, animation supervisor Max Solomon, CG lighting supervisor Paul Beilby, motion control robots operator Jeff Linnell, CG sequence supervisor Stuart Penn, additional compositing supervisor Kyle McCulloch, movement coach Francesca Jaynes, special effects supervisor Manex Efrem, physical trainer Simone Ayesa, stunt coordinator Franklin Henson, movement artists Avye Leventis, Mikey Brett and Robin Guiver, special effects floor supervisor Alan Young, production designer Andy Nicholson, supervising art director Mark Scruton, CG modelling supervisor Ben Lambert, HOD modeller Pierre Bohanna, costume designer Jany Temime, editor Mark Sanger, CG supervisor Chris Lawrence, supervising sound editor/sound designer Glenn Freemantle, re-recording mixer/sound design editor Niv Adiri, supervising dialogue/ADR editor Nina Hartstone, composer Steven Price, musician Alasdair Malloy, and actors George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.
“Control” looks at script/story/character areas, cinematography and the depiction of space sequences, various effects and filming “zero G” shots, cast, training and performances, sets, costumes and visual design, editing, audio, music, and other elements.
Initially I felt disappointed that the disc lacked an audio commentary, but given the length and complexity of “Control”, that feeling quickly faded. Indeed, due to the film’s intense focus on visual elements, this super-long documentary probably acts as a better complement since it shows us the techniques as we hear from participants. “Control” covers the film in a thorough and satisfying manner.
Five Shot Breakdowns cover a total of 36 minutes, 48 seconds. In these, we hear from Alfonso Cuaron, Tim Webber, Paul Beilby, Max Solomon, Niv Adiri, Glenn Freemantle, Steven Price, Manex Efrem, Franklin Henson, Chris Lawrence, Anthony Smith, David Heyman, Francesca Jaynes, Sandra Bullock, Pierre Bohanna, Andy Nicholson, Jonas Cuaron, additional unit lighting supervisor Ashley Palin, CG effects supervisor Alexis Wajsbrot, and visual effects creators Ian Cope and Tony Clark. These examine elements related to astronauts’ visors, the fire in the space station, Dr. Stone’s “rebirth”, sound design in space, and splashdown. This means the featurettes show the various components that came together to create the complicated sequences.
The “Breakdowns” area feels like an extension of the “Mission Control” compilation. Created by the same production company, the featurettes progress in the same manner and come with the same vibe. I regard that as a good thing; since “Control” works so well, I’m happy to find more of the same here. The “Breakdowns” offer a lot more useful information.
A documentary entitled Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space goes for 22 minutes, 28 seconds. Narrated by Ed Harris, the piece includes notes from Alfonso Cuaron, former NASA Senior Scientist for Orbital Debris Research Don Kessler, Center for Orbital/Reentry Debris Studies principal engineer, Dr. William Ailor, Packing for Mars author Mary Roach, retired NASA astronaut Dr. Dan T. Barry, Aerospace Corporation Senior Engineering Specialist Dr. Roger C. Thompson, Integrity Applications Incorporated technical director Darren McKnight, Aerospace Corporation Associate Principal Director Ted Muelhaupt, and University of Southampton senior aerospace engineer and lecturer Dr. Hugh Lewis.
The program examines issues related to debris that orbits space. Obviously this subject connects to Gravity in a close manner; indeed, the show uses ample footage from the film. It becomes a pretty compelling look at the problem and possible solutions.
Next we get a short film called Aningaaq. Directed by Alfonso’s brother Jonas, it lasts six minutes, 53 seconds and shows the tale of a character who remains off-screen during Gravity. It’s interesting to see, but I prefer leaving the earth-bound character’s actions to the imagination.
We can watch Aningaaq with or without a three-minute, 18-second introduction from Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron. They give us set-up for the short and their inspiration for it. The intro allows us to get a good perspective for the film.
Finally, Film Festivals just shows a list of 14 festivals at which Gravity was an “Official Selection”. It’s a waste of time.
The disc opens with an ad for Her. No trailer for Gravity shows up here.
A third disc presents a DVD copy of Gravity. It includes Aningaaq but lacks any of the other extras.
One of 2013’s big critical and commercial hits, Gravity provides an unusual take on a “castaway” story. It mixes a tight narrative with strong acting and excellent visual effects. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and bonus materials along with awesome audio. I like the movie and feel pleased with its home video representation.