Gravity (2013) is Alfonso Cuarón’s latest directorial effort. George Clooney stars as Matt Kowalski, the happy-go-lucky astronaut, who is very charismatic and knows how to survive in space. Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first space trip. The two are in the middle of a mission, when shrapnel from an explosion at the Russian space station starts traveling their way. The shrapnel kills all co-workers and destroys their space craft. Matt and Ryan are the sole survivors. The two must set out on a survival mission, however Ryan needs a lot of coaching. Matt is constantly instructing her, teaching her, and guiding her. He even sacrifices himself for her, making Ryan swear that she is going to live.
Ultimately, the film is a wonderful display of visual effects. It is shot in such a way that when viewing in 3D, it almost feels as though the audience is floating in space with the astronauts. The level of sophistication the art department, cinematographer, and editor show here is really superb. Complementing this is the wonderful acting by Clooney and Bullock. They both live up to the demands of the film, showcasing their undeniable talent. Though, the star of the film really is Bullock, who is the only person on screen for the last half of the film. She balances her character's personal struggles of losing her daughter with the external struggle of being in space. Her role is very physical, requiring her to breathe heavier to indicate her diminishing oxygen level, to move through a space shuttle that is ready to explode, and to demonstrate the extreme heat she feels as she free falls through the atmosphere. Her performance here is the complete opposite of her performance in The Proposal (2009), which demonstrates her vast range as an artist.
What is lacking in this film are a few additional scenes that would have made the audience more emotionally involved. Matt Kowalski’s time on screen is short and when he lets go of Ryan’s hand so that she can live, it is sad, but not gut wrenching. If the writers would have established Matt more, then the audience would be more invested. Perhaps, the writers could have opened the film in the shuttle on Earth as they were getting ready to take off or even slightly before. Then, there would be more of an opportunity to develop a character arc. Also, the bit about Ryan and her daughter feels forced. Thus, the writers could have done a better job at raising the internal battles of Ryan and Kowalski, which would then make the audience more involved. Overall though, the movie is well done and will be the recipient of much praise.