Blu-Ray Rating: *****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Amber Wilkinson's film review of Gravity
Sandra Bullock in Gravity

Fresh from winning seven Oscars, including one for Best Director at the Academy Awards, Alfonso Cuarón's space thriller is released on a jam-packed 3D/2D Blu-ray disc (and a slightly more anorexic DVD offering).

The extras on the Blu-ray include a plethora of featurettes, split into two sections - Behind The Scenes and Shot Breakdowns.

Copy picture

The former set breaks down the techincal wizadry into bitesized chunks, outlining the incredible process that took the film from script to screen - involving a full animation previsualisation (previs) before the scenes were replicated by the actors, and then detailing how the CG was married to the live action. Along the way, there are also featurettes discussing the way that the lighting was achieved - largely using a container described as a 'light box' alongside some robotic cameramen, so that each swoop of the light could be perfectly timed - and the tricks employed to create the sense of physical weightlessness, with puppeteers as well as wires on hand to help Sandra Bullock in the role of Dr Stone.

Cuarón is on hand throughout, offering insight into the metaphors of life and humanity he was aiming for in the film. "Part of life is drifting and trying to fight inertia," he says.

It's interesting to see, in featurette It Began With A Story, the script overlaying finished scenes, so that we are able to observe how closely they stuck to it. The poetry in the script by Cuarón and his brother Jonas is also notable, with lines including phrases such as "under night's dark veil" or stars "shimmering like sapphires".

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney also making hefty appearances along with all the key technical players, including visual effects supervisor Tim Webber and (the now Oscar-winning) composer Steven Price. There is plenty of onset footage showing how some of the technical aspects were achieved and there is a good dose of humour to stop things getting stale. The full lot runs at just over 100 minutes and each featurette flows seamlessly into the next. They are well-edited and there is good use of animation to illustrate some of the technical difficulties the crew faced. Time and effort has gone into this package and it shows.

The second tranche of featurettes (running just shy of 40 minutes), explore the anatomy of various scenes. This includes the fire in the international space station and the emotional airlock moment, which they describe as Dr Stone's Rebirth and which shows just how dedicated Bullock was to putting in the perfect performance.

As with the Behind the Scenes section, these are well thought out and well constructed. Elsewhere in this section are details of how the visors were created entirely in CG, while some of the tech team talk about the difficulty of researching and then recreating the impression of fire in space. Cuarón also details a crafty cameo that Hitchcock would die for.

Jonas Cuarón's companion short film Aningaaq, which imagines the life of the man whom Stone speaks to from space, is also included along with an introduction from both brothers explaining the inspiration behind it.

The final major extra is a documentary Collision Point: The Race To Clean Up Space, narrated by Ed Harris. It's a 20-minute piece using the space smash in Gravity as a jumping off point to explore the very real and increasing risk posed by space junk to the satellites we rely on. Of the 20,000 objects orbiting round the earth, only around 1,000 are active, so as one of the NASA scientists puts it here, floating around up there is like living in a shooting range "except the bullets are a lot faster". The film examines how the debris came to be up there and explores some of the ways we might consider cleaning it up. Another well-chosen extra that adds a factual dimension to the fiction package.

Although inevitably losing something on the small screen - this reviewer was watching the 2D version - Gravity stands up surprisingly well thanks to Bullock's strong performance and a beautiful high-definition presentation. Happily, Warner Bros haven't skimped on the subtitling either - so often a grumble with extras - with all of the extra features fully subtitled for the hard of hearing. The Bluray pack features the film in 3D, 2D and a digital UltraViolet copy.

I've always considered Mexican director Guillermo del Toro to be the king of DVD extras, but his fellow countryman Cuarón proves almost equally adept.

From its nicely presented lenticular slipcase to the enjoyable and informative clutch of extras, this is an excellent package that offers a lot more than the usual thrown together love-ins that so often clutter up home entertainment releases. Well worth the investment.

Watch the It Began With A Story script-to-screen featurette below:

Reviewed on: 03 Mar 2014
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Gravity packshot
A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.
Amazon link

Product Code: 5000176625

Region: A

Ratio: 1080p High Definition 16:9 2.4:1

Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1

Extras: Gravity: Mission Control, It Began With A Story, Initial Challenges: Long Shots And Zero G. Previsualising Gravity, The Huees Of Space, Physical Weightlessness, Space Tech, Sandra And George: A Pair In Space, Final Animation Complete Silence. Shot Breakdowns - Behind Teh Visor, Fire In The International Space Station, Dr Stone's Rebirth, The Sound Of Action In Space, Splashdown. Documentary Collision Point: The Race To Clean Up Space; Aningaaq

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