It's also the best 3D movie ever made. Oh, and it's probably one of the top space films of all time. The movie creates its story world so perfectly that at times you actually feel like you are in space with these characters. And it's terrifying, exhilarating, and poetic. It's the best picture of 2013.
Gravity has a simple, but effective, premise. Astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are on a routine mission to upgrade the Hubble telescope when all hell breaks loose. Debris from a nearby destroyed satellite is drifting towards their position. Before they can escape, they are barraged with satellite shrapnel speeding at them like runaway bullets. The collision untethers Stone from the shuttle and sends her spinning into space, unable to see or communicate with Kowalski or any other members of the crew. Now, low on oxygen and with nothing to help her from flipping endlessly into space, Stone must find a way to survive.
3D has been used effectively before, but not often. Avatar and Hugo are the two that come to mind immediately. In those movies, the filmmakers used the technology to enhance the story visually. Gravity takes it to the next level by using it to enhance the emotional power of the film. Director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban) uses 3D so effectively here that to see the film in 2D would rob the viewer of the experience that is Gravity. The 3D makes a terrifying situation even more terrifying. It puts the audience IN the movie with Ryan Stone and helps us identify with her on an almost primal level. Cuaron arranges the elements with perfect subtlety and rarely uses the technique as a gimmick. Simply put, the brilliant effects work puts you in space, but the 3D makes you part of the story.
The actors really rise to the challenge of Gravity as well. Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her career and does so with only a handful of dialogue scenes. Instead, Bullock is able to portray a kaleidoscope of emotions using only her face, voice, and body. The most important job she has is to make the audience connect with her terrifying experience; to put themselves in her place and experience her emotional changes as through they are their own. Through her eyes and actions we feel her fear, her bravery, and her desperation. The technical feats of Gravity may be the engine to the film, but Bullock's portrayal of Ryan Stone is surely the heart.
Gravity is one of those special movies that comes along only once every decade or so. It rises above the mundane and aspires to something greater. It redefines the experience of going to the movies and blazes a trail that others are sure to follow. Gravity is not only the best movie of this year, it might be the best theatrical experience to emerge in quite some time. Don't cheat yourself, SEE THIS MOVIE IN 3D. In 20 years, you can tell people that you saw the movie that changed it all.