Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” is a masterful exercise in filmmaking. The seven-year wait between his last film, “Children of Men,” and this one was well worth it. The score, the cinematography, the acting, and everything else are all done with perfection. Cuaron has made a film so jam-packed with tension that the viewer will be holding tightly onto the edge of his or her seat for the entire 90 minutes. This is a reason why movies need to be seen on the big screen – even with the high cost of admission.
Cuaron is a genius filmmaker, and “Gravity” is just another example. The first 12 minutes are done in one fascinating take. Rather than cut to another angle, he just follows the characters around – capturing their point of view as they float around in space. There’s Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), the veteran astronaut on his last mission, who cracks jokes in the face of danger. There’s Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), the newbie on her first mission – who is frightened as hell as all of this debris is heading toward them.
There are moments where Cuaron puts the viewer right next to Clooney and Bullock. While Clooney is calm and cool during the chaos, Bullock is not, and neither are we. Cuaron doesn’t just put us right next to these two stars; he also puts us in their suits. Several first-person views are shown from inside Bullock’s suit as she panics about how much longer she has on oxygen. And as she panics, so does the viewer. Even though she won the Oscar for “The Blind Side,” Bullock’s performance in “Gravity” is definitely her most challenging and best yet.
The 3D is put to magnificent use – making the viewer feel like he or she is about to be hit by an unstoppable object that is flying toward them. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography beautifully captures Earth from space and all the stars surrounding it.
As many film lovers know, science fiction tends to get the “science” part wrong. “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” are both very popular franchises, but they ignore the fact that in space, no one can hear ships flying or guns being shot. “Gravity” is a film that embraces the true feeling of being in space. And when objects begin to hit the ship, the viewer is more terrified by the imagery and the lack of sound.
Composer Steven Price creates a magnificent and haunting score that never sounds out of place. When it seems like Cuaron and the rest of the crew might have forgotten about not being able to hear in space, it’s actually the result of Price’s clever score – playing along with the objects thumping together.
“Gravity” is a film that needs to be examined by every prospective filmmaker and every college or high school film course. It’s not just a masterpiece in terms of its special effects and other technical aspects; it’s a grand exploration of being alone, lost, and wondering if you will ever make it out alive.