Discuss: Can We Just Wait Until 'Gravity' Is Done Before Deciding If It's A "Game Changing Masterpiece"?

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by Kevin Jagernauth
May 4, 2012 12:52 PM
13 Comments
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Test screenings are as old as Hollywood itself, but in this age of instant reactions, that process is even more fraught for filmmakers. Before a movie is even edited or shaped by a director, a test screening can -- for better or worse -- create buzz about a film, even if it's not yet in the form the director intends. And you really only have to look at CinemaCon, which featured brief amounts of finished footage from upcoming films, to see the hyperbole thrown around even if it's based a small portion of the film. Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" became a worry because of it's use of 48 frames-per-second photography, while the Oscars were already being awarded to Ang Lee's "Life Of Pi." Now, one more highly anticipated movie is getting judged before well before it has been completed.

If you were on Twitter the past couple of days, you might have heard that Alfonso Cuaron's CGI-heavy, ambitious 3D sci-fi thriller "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, had a test screening in Los Angeles. By all accounts, there was lots of effects work still to be completed; some say nearly half the film didn't have finished visuals. And yet, opinions began to emerge anyway. "Here's something. Gravity screened in LA tonight. VERY unfinished but heard it's visually ambitious, interesting but not world-changing," Germain Lussier of /Film tweeted.

We're not sure where it emerged that "Gravity" needed to be "world-changing," and of course, even judging whether it does that or not based on a half-finished picture is ludicrous. But there are equally extreme reactions going the other way as well. " 'Gravity' is Cuaron’s masterpiece. It’s gonna be divided. Half will think it’s a self-indulgent borefest and half will think it’s amazingly brilliant," a reader enthused to Film Experience. Meanwhile, over at AICN, another reader who saw it went off about the "next level" movie, calling it a "fucking masterpiece" even though "there were lots of unrendered 3D cubes, pre-visualizations & wires."

Can we just stop the madness for a moment?

Listen, we're as stoked as the next person for "Gravity," in fact we're immensely excited, but coming down with an opinion on either side at this point is premature and a bit silly. And frankly, we just want it to be a great film -- history will decide if it's a classic, a game changer, or simply just a really really good movie (and what's wrong with that?). Or maybe it won't be any of those things. However, this was a work-in-progress screening with lots of work still to be done, and who knows how the pacing, tone and shape of the movie will evolve between now and its release this fall? So maybe let's just pause until we at least get a trailer? "Gravity" arrives on November 21st and -- according to the internet -- it will either be the best thing ever created for human eyes in our lifetime or the worst movie ever.

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13 Comments

  • anon | May 7, 2012 12:12 AMReply

    ...these little editorial pieces, make the playlist appear to be the lone voice or reason in an internet of madness...but this site publishes just as many "first-screening" opinion takes as any other, sometimes prefaced by "it's crazy to critique a film by this one minute of unfinished footage, but...", either way its still doing what you say not to do...

  • michael | May 4, 2012 5:54 PMReply

    Amen. Glad to see fairness in your report. This film is not yet completed, so going crazy one way or the other seems odd to me. I am very excited to see "Gravity" in completed form.

  • Michael | May 4, 2012 5:53 PMReply

    I know right? Why didn't she skip the screening, text her "opinion" and go shopping.

  • Franklin | May 4, 2012 4:09 PMReply

    You guys are on point here compared to the other horrid fanboy sites, most of which you put to shame. Nice work.

  • Collin | May 4, 2012 4:05 PMReply

    Totally agree.

  • Stanley Boobrick | May 4, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    I wrote the AICN review, & here's what you're missing....The film IS finished, in that it's fully edited and every piece of the story is there, the special fx were the only unfinished thing about it. But the reason I can make a judgement of how the final film will be is because this film is a 'one-location' movie, so the fully-rendered space footage we did get to see is an accurate representation of everything we didn't get to see, since we never leave the locale

  • STANLEY BOOBRICK | May 4, 2012 3:46 PM

    Kevin-----No, it's like looking at a frame of a house with one side completely done and saying "Man, if the rest of the house looks just like this it's going to be awesome!"

  • Kevin | May 4, 2012 2:41 PM

    That's like looking at a frame of a house and saying it's done. Sorry dude, it's not finished.

  • oogle monster | May 4, 2012 1:50 PMReply

    Off topic but what about reactions to The Great Gatsby? I want to hear more about Luhrmann's masterpiece in the making!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Daniel | May 4, 2012 1:30 PMReply

    You are aware this is the internet, right?

  • Right | May 4, 2012 1:25 PMReply

    So... is The Playlist going to stop reviewing scripts, since it's too "premature"? Or talking about Oscar potential when a particularly starry cast is announced? At least the Life is Pi and Gravity buzz is based on people actually having taken a look at the movie.

  • Jordan Raup | May 4, 2012 1:16 PMReply

    Ha, burn! I equate my hype with this relatively unknown project to something like one has for The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, etc. If some early hype gets it on more people's radar I have no problem sharing enthusiastic word about it. But yes, it's a very early version and we'll have to wait and see.

  • Thoughts | May 4, 2012 1:12 PMReply

    I think it's just the nature of Internet chatter now. The second a film ends people will rush to their Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc to express their IMMEDIATE opinion regarding what they just saw, read, or heard. There's little to no time anymore where people REFLECT on what they saw. There seems to be a new masterpiece & game changer every month or so now isn't there? I try to wait at least two days before really expressing my opinion on a film I just saw for example because I know how easy it is to fall into the just-post-viewing hype.
    If you had asked me December 14th what my opinion of 'Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol' was the minute after I saw it on a true IMAX screen I would've told "this is the best action movie ever made!" Yet I never went to see it again in theaters.
    I enjoyed MI4 a great deal and I now own it on bluray & watched it a couple times since. Is it a great movie? Yes. Is it the greatest movie ever made? Nope.
    People don't allow things to digest anymore. By May 5th two thirds of the nerd filmgoing population after just seeing 'The Avengers' is going to call it the greatest film ever made and ask why isn't their Dark Knight here yet.

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