‘Gravity’ is an astonishing cinematic work. It is one of the best uses of special effects to tell a story of survival. Not since Stanley Kubrick’s classic, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ has a film achieved the awesome beauty and dangers of outer space. Thanks to the genius of Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron (who wrote the screenplay with his son, Jonas) and the brilliant cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, you feel like you’re floating in space with the astronauts hovering around the majestic backdrop of earth. This groundbreaking space epic is without question one of the best and most entertaining films of the year.
In ‘Gravity,’ all the right elements work in place to create a spectacular movie experience. The minimalist dialogue, jaw-dropping CGI technology, and talent of two veteran actors come together seamlessly. At a swift running time of 90 minutes, Cuaron keeps the audience riveted to their seats. The opening sequence is so well-orchestrated and visually stunning, you marvel at its realism. It’s a visual masterpiece. The camera work is flawless and done so well for dramatic effect. The camera rotates in long, continuous shots that make it feel so authentic. The camera angles accentuate the vastness of space at one moment and the claustrophobia of the space capsules at another.
The plot is as simple as it is frightening. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a NASA research scientist helping upgrade the Hubble telescope on the Shuttle Explorer. Her co-pilot Mission Commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is the veteran astronaut. Clooney is perfectly cast in the role. His joking banter with Houston (Ed Harris, never seen) is stopped short after a missile strike shatters a Russian satellite into thousands of pieces. Suddenly, the fast-moving shower of debris is headed into their direction and sends them spinning into space. The sight of Stone helplessly floating into silent infinity is gut-wrenching to watch as her breath fogs up her helmet from the panic. It’s terrifying that the thought of her being lost in space is a real possibility.
‘Gravity’ is filled with one impressive visual after another. What is more desperate than being lost in space? If you’re stranded at sea, at least you have the chance of being rescued. Cuaron magnificently shows the perils a solitary human floating untethered in space experiences. At its barest, it’s man versus nature or in this case, woman versus nature. Stone is the heroine of this survival epic and she proves to be a strong one too. She has a dark backstory that challenges her will to live. It makes for a suspenseful adventure. The most intense aspect of the catastrophe is the silence. There is no sound in space. At times, we only here radio communication to mission control or the heavy breathing in her spacesuit as her oxygen dangerously runs low.
To divulge any spoilers would ruin the experience for you. The challenge is straightforward. Stone and Kowalski need to find a way home or they will die in space. As the film leaps from one space station to the next, it becomes a chain of obstacles that need to be overcome to eventually return home to earth. Bullock’s performance is truly incredible. Without question, she will be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award and I would not be surprised if she walks away with the Oscar statuette. She’s that good. Even as Bullock’s Stone struggles to read the manual of a Chinese space station, there is always the extraordinarily beautiful earth rotating outside the window portal. Cuaron brilliantly conveys the vast and enormous presence of the universe and how insignificant we are as humans in the grand scheme things. There is a touching scene where Stone sheds a few fearful tears and the teardrops float off into zero gravity.
‘Gravity’ is great filmmaking and a genuine masterpiece. Don’t miss one of the best films of the year. Check out the Warner Bros. Pictures trailer http://youtu.be/OiTiKOy59o4.