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Can George Clooney save 3-D?

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in "Gravity."

There's a little irony to add to government shutdown and film premiere news today. Though NASA has furloughed 97 percent of its workforce, "Gravity," a 3-D space film with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney comes out this week.

Wesley Morris, Grantland's film writer, hopes the use of 3-D won't re-inspire its use throughout cinema. 

"This should be a really good example of a movie that should make other people say, 'We shouldn't bother if there's no reason for it,'" Morris says. "I think if you can find a way [to use 3-D] that's not just throwing things into your face for two hours, or do that horrible thing ... where they shoot the movie in standard definition and retro-fit it in 3-D, so it looks terrible."

But overall, Morris thinks the film was a "complete moviegoing experience." 

"From a physics standpoint, it is apparently very good and very plausible ... but for me, as a moviegoing experience," he says, "this is a very good directing performance by Alfonso Cuarón."

One thing director Alfonso Cuarón has said is that "Gravity" can't be viewed like a normal movie. Morris thinks that has to do with the film's submersive experience. 

"He hasn't made a movie in seven years. The last time he made a movie, we weren't watching them on our phones," Morris adds. "He made a movie that is virtually phone-proof, in that it helps to be sensorally overwhelmed by the 3-D, by the sound design, by the visual effects."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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Regarding the technical accuracy of the film, I would say it was better than most but far from perfect. I work at SpaceX and in celebration of our recent successful launch the company treated us all to the new movie yesterday afternoon. The visuals are spectacular and the spacecraft feel real, but much of the orbital mechanics and vastness of space have been significantly simplified. To be fair, we're probably a pretty tough audience to please.

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