Gravity (2013 Warner Bros.)
A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.
Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Written by Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón. Produced by Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman.
How would you feel if you were adrift in space, spinning out of control, hurtling into the abyss without a spaceship, tether or communication with anyone on Earth? That is Ryan Stone’s reality. She started as a medical engineer on her first space shuttle mission and finds herself all alone, fighting for survival in outer space. Even the “in a world” movie trailers couldn’t possibly set the tone for this level of urgency and tension!
For a film with a nine-figure budget that covered breathtaking and awesome near-earth orbital visual effects, Gravity is driven largely by Sandra Bullock who, as Ryan Stone, captures the sense of fear, isolation, unknown and urgency mostly on her own. With the exception of a couple scenes with co-star George Clooney as astronaut Matt Kowalski, Gravity is Bullock’s show. And her performance is so convincing she makes you forget the the awesomeness of the planet serving as her backdrop.
The brainchild of Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity is visually stunning. As a 3-D experience, the audience isn’t just observing a quest for survival against the most dire of circumstances; the audience is practically a part of the quest. It’s truly a testament to Caurón’s directing and Clooney’s and Bullock’s acting that the desperation and hopelessness is so palpable throughout. As though being adrift in space isn’t bad enough, they have to find a way back to home, which happens to be 200 miles away while they’re orbiting Earth at 17,500 miles per hour in their space suits. The story itself is compelling enough, really. But Bullock elevates everything to another level with her performance. She’s brave, vulnerable, scared and determined.
Where most movies are stories, Gravity is an experience, and a seriously intense experience at that. It’s a mere 90 minutes long, but the mission feels agonizingly long and hopeless. Credit the entire production crew for maintaining that sense of hopelessness throughout Gravity. It’s the culmination of stunning visual effects, crisp storytelling and great acting performances. In the infinity of outer space, Gravity somehow comes off as intimate amidst the waves of action and suspense; probably the result of gallows-humor dialogue (monologue, really) and Bullock’s emotional performance. Gravity is a thrilling, action-packed film that delivers the right punches at the right time (including a very clever use of a certain actor for the mission control voice).
RATING: ***-1/2 (out of five)