The Grey

The Grey cast walking in snowstorm
The Grey
Time/place: 8pm showing at Metro Pointe with Vinay, Lalit, and others.

Though I haven’t yet seen it, of course, The Dark Knight Rises has some surprisingly strong competition for my favorite movie of the year after tonight.

Yeah… I liked this that much.

The Grey really exceeded my expectations, and my trepidation with saying something like that is that I have now built it up for YOU, but I can’t avoid it in this review o’mine… I loved this movie.  If you’ve ever seen a movie with me that I really love, you’ll know it because I walk out with a dopey grin on my face, a far-off look in my eyes, and I haven’t much to say.  I walked out of the theater this way, tonight.

First, I have to say, this was a very odd movie-watching experience for me.  I saw it with a friend, his dad, a friend of my friend, and the friend of my friend’s teenage niece and boyfriend.  At two points during the movie, the sound cut out… the first actually happening at the first big standoff between the humans and wolves – the audience had fun with it, though, howling and barking to keep up the scary atmosphere.  To wrap it all up, midway through the movie, some guy in the theater yelled at someone else to turn of their bleeping cell phone – and, again, the audience had fun with that, too.  None of that has to do with the movie, itself, but for all of these oddities and distractions, I was still completely invested… so maybe it DOES have something to say about the movie :).

I’m still dealing with a broken extended entry, so as much as I probably could include a spoiler section of the review, I won’t.  I feel like it deserves it, the detail and depth with which I could talk about things is certainly prominent in my mind, but I also feel as if I almost, personally, wouldn’t want to.  I’m prone to giving short reviews to my favorite movies, and that’s because I like to keep the value and appreciation inside.

What I do have to say about The Grey, though, is that I think it hit every note perfectly.  It’s a survival movie, sure, but that’s nothing if you don’t get wrapped up and involved with the characters.  The moments and interactions all felt very real – not really very dramatic or time-consuming.  These characters were dealing with survival, so most of the time they respond accordingly.  Of course, they don’t always get the chance, as there are certainly a number of moments that jump right outta nowhere.  Trust me, I’ve spoiled nothing by saying that, because that’s established pretty early on, and it really screws with the audience’s expectations.  At any point, you’re not sure if a long, drawn-out shot/moment is going to be suddenly interrupted, and I really thought that worked great, here.

For as realistic as things are, there’s a pretty high body count, and plenty of other violence throughout the movie.  I’m pretty sensitive to graphic things, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  I glanced away from the screen a number of times, but I felt like I was able to almost predict when I’d have to, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by doing so.

Also, for as realistic as things are, it’s also not.  The wolves in this movie are animals, sure, but it’s also sort of a symbolic-esque monster movie.  There are conversations between the surviving men about faith and personal value, and the dramatic threads that run throughout the movie felt anything but tagged on.  They are, more than anything, what the movie is actually about.  That’s what I wasn’t expecting.  Liam Neeson’s become this tough-guy star since Taken, and I loved that movie, too… but it wasn’t necessarily deep and personal.  It was very good, and very cool, but it was a man on a mission.  The Grey is men on a mission, too, but the story and its character-developments reach far beyond that.  Not that it’s some slow-paced, sappy story, by any means… the wolves and the environment make sure of that :).

Speaking of environment, the fact that they were actually out in the wilderness shooting this, added so much (saw an interview with Neeson, in which he explains that all of the weather is real… it was so intense that they could only generally manage 4-hour shooting days).  One of my favorite elements in this movie, though, was the sound.

We’ve all seen the now-common aspect in movie trailers of cutting from loud, chaos to sudden quiet… then, after a “chilling” pause, abrupt chaos.  Now, imagine an entire movie that employs such a technique throughout its entirety… and uses it well.  The crash that results in our main characters becoming stranded is one of the most fascinating I’ve ever seen in a movie, and that is due, in large part, to the sound design.  Likewise, the wolves (in true, horror monster fashion), are heard more than they’re seen… and it’s often a horrifying, surrounding symphony of howls and guttural growls.  Like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the sounds of the wolves seemed almost unnatural at times – but in an unsettling and fantastic way.

The Grey had me from its opening moments, and it really took me places I wasn’t expecting at all.  It was tense, hilarious, cool, scary, interesting, and absolutely wonderful.  A truth reveals itself, very simply, near the end, that solidified the smile on my face that only grew as the conclusion came to a head before the final credits rolled.  The movie’s a little gruesome and rough, and these guys swear like sailors, but it was a beautiful ride… and I wouldn’t have changed a thing :).
Liam Neeson sad in The Grey
Grade: A+


About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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