The story of Gravity revolves around two astronauts (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney) working on a technical upgrade to the Hubble. Another satellite disintegrates and begins destroying other satellites in orbit. This sends a giant cloud of debris in the direction of the astronauts’ ship, causing significant damage. Their mission is aborted and the new objective becomes staying alive.
The biggest compliment that can be given to the film is it is a technical masterpiece. To open the movie, director Alfonso Cuaròn crafted an intricate ten minute plus shot to ground the audience in the environment.
The cinematography is beautiful, but the special effects are what are sure to garner an Oscar nomination (and my in my estimation, a win). Aesthetically, Gravity is this year’s Life of Pi like Rush is this year’s Argo.
Director Cuaròn is no stranger to fantastic visuals, having directed Harry Potter 3 and Children of Men. While Children of Men is a more enjoyable classic due to its comprehensive, post-apocalyptic look of the future, Gravity is a less traditional film.
Its closest peer would have to be the forgotten cave-diving epic Sanctum, which featured similar survivalist situations and ethical dilemmas. As with Sanctum, anyone with any sort of distance-related fear should steer away, for Bullock’s character churns stomachs as she tumbles through space, crawls through confined areas, and experiences oxygen withdrawals in a fight for her life.
Sandra Bullock is unrecognizable in her performance, and her Oscar buzz for this performance is justifiable. While she already garnered an Oscar for her role in The Blind Side, she took a relatively long break until resurfacing in The Heat and Gravity. As astronaut Ryan, she gives an organic performance that gets the audience rooting for her by the end of the film.
George Clooney is very calculating in the role of Matt, and he injects the movie with the humor it needs to relieve some of the tension from the perilous situations. An Oscar winner for his supporting performance in Syriana and producing Argo, Clooney is one of the most flexible artists working in Hollywood today. While Gravity is unlikely to earn him Oscar flack, his actor/director role for The Monuments Men looks like a potential Academy Award sweetheart.
My hope is that Gravity changes Hollywood for the better. The special effects used in the film are not exuberant manifestations of a video game. They provide verisimilitude to the proceedings, and while they churn the audience members’ stomachs, it’s not because of sickness.
Anyone expecting to see anything extraterrestrial should stay at home, for this movie is not science fiction—it is a tangible science reality. Also, do not be discouraged by the shorter runtime—the movie is of appropriate length, for no one could endure the dramatic tension if it was any longer. Gravity is a fun experience, but due to the experiential feelings associated with watching it that do not give much reflection later, I rate it three out of four stars.
– Curtis Everitt, Contributing Writer