The unimaginable terror, helplessness and total isolation of being lost in outer space are depicted as never before in “Gravity.” This highly anticipated 3D big screen adventure from writer-director Alfonso Cuaron delivers on its hype and takes you on a trip worthy of the funny glasses. It’s a lean ride with only an hour-and-a-half running time, but you’ll be riveted to the screen for every unwasted second.
The unlikely pairing of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a sci-fi thriller turns out to be perfect. Bullock brings a humble everyman quality to Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer bravely stepping way outside of her box for her first journey to and walk in space to install a prototype communication system. We instantly sympathize with her feelings of nausea, disorientation and awe and place ourselves in her shoes. As Matt Kowalski, Clooney soulfully portrays the boyish wide eyed wonder and delight of a seasoned astronaut with his new toy jet pack taking in all the sights on his last trip to the stars. When he and Dr. Stone suddenly find themselves stranded in nothing but their spacesuits, his easy going charm and humor brings levity to the gravity of their situation and helps calm Dr. Stone into sipping rather than gulping her rapidly depleting oxygen supply.
The dazzling visuals, often enhanced by a total lack of sound effects, are the next evolution of the groundbreaking spectacle of 1968’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The actors constantly float, sway and tumble in their weightless environment along with any and all objects that are not firmly secured. One highly effective moment even sees teardrops leave Bullock’s face and float toward the camera. It’s the perfect example of the way in which the special effects blend with and enhance the all-important human aspect of the story.
Without Bullock’s heartfelt performance and the fully conceived character of Dr. Stone, “Gravity” might just be another cool sci-fi flick. Yet thanks to both of those elements, it’s a gripping tale of a woman who has known greater tragedy on Earth once again trying to find the will and the strength to go on.