"Gravity" is a filmmaking marvel. While much of the film looks like it's aiming to be included on the demo sizzle reel used to sell a home theater system, the tricks the screenplay turns really solidify it as one of the best of the year. Actually, every single element in the film is used to great effect. When the soundtrack strips away everything but the sounds of Sandra Bullock's panicked breathing, it's nearly impossible for the viewer not to squirm in their chair.
The film wastes no time in getting to the heart of the matter. Astronauts are doing some satellite repairs when things take a drastic turn for the worse. Out of nowhere, Houston tells them to abort the mission. Debris from a damaged Russian satellite is heading their way, and closing in fast. This is just about all the setup that director Alfonso Cuaron needs to let his imagination run wild.
For all the time the characters spend outside of the space stations, the authenticity of the scenery never seems to be questioned. Aside from a few moments during a scene inside of an escape pod, the visual effects are seamless; it's nearly impossible to detect what is real or what could be computer-generated. It is never difficult to believe that these characters are really floating around space. When it comes to the visual effects, "Gravity" makes "Pacific Rim" look like it was made with scaled-down plastic versions from the toy box.
Cuaron and his son Jonas manage to do the impossible and deliver a screenplay that nearly overshadows the brilliant eye candy. Since "Gravity" doesn't take long getting to the action, there isn't much in the way for character development early on. But over the course of the tight, 90-minute screenplay, the viewer grows to care for these characters. One key scene will definitely test the safety valve on the old waterworks.
While the 3D effect doesn’t hurt “Gravity”, it doesn’t make enough of an impact to feel entirely necessary. It’s cool to see everyday objects(like a figurine of Marvin the Martian) float around an international space station, but that would be an obvious choice to showcase the extra dimension. While seeing the film in 3D may be considered optional, seeing it period is not. After Alfonso Cuaron’s outstanding “Children of Men” in 2006, the director spent some time with some documentary shorts and a television pilot. After seven years, he returns to feature films, and his skills haven’t missed a beat. Here’s hoping that moviegoers don’t have to wait another seven years for his next entry, because “Gravity” shows Cuaron in fine form. The film is an exemplary standout, and one of the best of this year.