Captain Phillips vs. Gravity

By Jordon Hall

Two movies I have had my eye on since the summer – Captain Phillips and Gravity – certainly did not disappoint.

These two films are very similar. The main protagonist in both is taken captive by a greater force. In Captain Phillips, the greater force is four pirates at gunpoint. The greater force in Gravity is outer space.

Both films also focus very much on one character. Gravity really only focuses on one character whereas Captain Phillips concentrates on the journey of Richard Phillips.

Captain Phillips is an action thriller biopic directed by Paul Greengrass (Bourne series) and stars the two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks (Toy Story, Forest Gump.) The film is based off the true events of the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship, which was captained by Richard Phillips. The story follows Phillips operating the Maersk Alabama through the coast of Somalia. Unfortunately for Phillips and the rest of his crew, pirates take the ship captive.

The film has two main acts. In the first act, the pirates take over the ship and take Phillips hostage as the rest of the crew goes into hiding in the ship. The pirates force Phillips to find the crew or they will kill him. As they are touring the ship, Phillips and the crew communicate in ways that had to be secretive. One brilliant way was when Phillips had to hand over his belongings to the pirates, he purposely held the radio trigger down, so his crew could hear the pirates plan on how to search the ship.

One of the pirates tries to find the crew alone and is eventually ambushed by them. Once taken captive, the pirates and crew negotiate a way to trade their hostage. The pirates loaded up in an escape boat with Phillips and get their leader back and take off.

In the second act, Phillips manages to survive on the escape boat with the pirates. This scene shows how great of an actor Hanks is. His portrayal of a desperate man trying to survive is unparalleled to any other acting performance I ever seen of his. There’s an Oscar nomination is in his future, if you ask me.

Hanks isn’t the only actor who put on quite the performance. Barkhad Abdi, Muse (the leader of the Somali pirate crew), made his acting debut.  Boy, did this kid bring it. His performance was so good that the audience rooted to hate him.

Paul Greengrass does a great job directing thie film. One of the themes down the stretch of the film was how both leaders in Phillips and Muse are almost identically the same person – just with different motives. One scene in particular shows these two are like a coin; both are made from the same silver but happen to be on different sides.

The film has all of the makings of being the best movie of the year. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Gravity is a space thriller directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and stars Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) who plays Dr. Ryan Stone. George Clooney plays Lt. Matt Kowalski.

Both actors have previously won an Academy Award.

After a beautiful shot of Earth, the audience is told that a Russian space station had a malfunction, which causes an explosion, and the debris is heading directly towards a ship called Space Shuttle Independence. The explosion is so massive in space that it causes many other satellites to be destroyed and mission control can no longer keep in contact with Dr. Stone or Lt. Kowalski. This is where the film becomes the Cast Away of space.

Dr. Stone is on his first mission, while Lt. Kowalski is a space veteran on his last mission. The two have good chemistry together as they carry the film and have to rely on each other to survive the horror of space and get home.

The M.V.P of the film to director Alfonso Cuarón. He did such a magnificent job. Cuarón and the rest of Warner Bros. must have done lots of research on how people float out in space, how much time the oxygen is given and how to maneuver out there. What I loved most in this movie is when explosions happen, or when one of the characters hits something. You don’t hear anything because of the lack of sound in space. Composer Steven Price also added to film with his music score.

Gravity will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Be ready for surprises. I cannot say enough about it. I would give also give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Gravity and Captain Phillips are without any doubt the two best films of the year. Does any other film have something to say about that? How about The Wolf of Wall Street? Or American Hustle? We will have to wait and see. But  until then these two are your best bets for movie of the year.

halljv11@bonaventure.edu

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