Film Review – Gravity
Alone in space with no shuttle, limited oxygen, no gravity, temperatures varying from extreme hot to cold: this is the ultimate terrifying scenario. Forget ghosts, murderers on the loose, slashers, and aliens; “stranded in space with nothing to save you” is now at the top of my scariest scenarios ever in a film or even just in life. Gravity’s director Alfonso Cuarón takes this situation and makes it one of the most suspenseful and beautiful films I have ever seen.
Scientist Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is part of a space mission that includes veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Stone is not an astronaut and only has six months of space training under her belt. She is part of the mission because of her research. Everything comes to an end when satellite debris hits the space shuttle while they are outside the ship, essentially stranding them in space. The rest of the film is very simply about survival in dire circumstances.
It is such a simple story, but the execution is what makes this film so good. It could not have been made years ago, or at least not very well. The only film that approaches the technical difficulty of bringing such a story to the screen is Apollo 13, and that took place mostly in a small service module. Gravity takes place mostly outside shuttles and the like while orbiting the Earth. Based on a script by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón, Alfonso Cuarón did not take the easy road in bringing the film to life. It is so complex. Yes, you realize that most of it is CGI and green screen, but it is done so well that, honestly, it is hard to compare it to anything. There are at least a couple of scenes where Cuarón transfers the viewer from watching the characters in the scene to the viewpoint of the character. It is not done instantly, but a slow transition in and out.
The film is available in the IMAX 3D format and, for once, I highly recommend that you dole out the extra money or go to a theater that offers it. In the case of Gravity, it is not a gimmick. The 3D is used in such a way that it adds to the experience. It is also really well done, not the kind that will cause a headache from the awful blurriness.
It is unavoidable to talk about how this film will be a frontrunner in the upcoming awards season. Sandra Bullock, while not the obvious choice for such a role, makes her nervous, uncertain, afraid scientist someone to be admired, for in the face of what seems like certain death, she becomes determined and finds her will to live. George Clooney plays a guy’s guy and a very knowledgeable astronaut, but is able to find compassion and be the voice of trust and calm for his freaked-out sidekick. Of course, Alfonso Cuarón created the masterpiece along with all the VFX/CGI artists. I would expect them all to dominate.
The less you know about Gravity, the better. Expect to be terrified, sitting on the edge of your seat, possibly with your hands covering your open mouth as you stare in wonder, shock, and awe at what you are seeing. The story that plays out is something that none of us would ever expect to be so expertly crafted in such a realistic way. Gravity is certainly a game changer for film, like Avatar was in 2009. Some may take issue with the ending or implausibility, but that is the only foreseeable complaint. Very plainly, my advice and review is to go see this masterpiece in the theater, or you will kick yourself when you see it on your tiny TV screen.