In "Gravity," Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first NASA mission to work on the Hubble telescope. She is accompanied by Mission Commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and three other crew members. It's during the crew's space walk to work to the telescope that something goes terribly wrong. It is brought to their attention via NASA communications that the Russians had blown-up one of their satellites and debris is on its way to their location, coming at a very fast rate.
Stone has found the space walk difficult enough, working in the unfamiliar conditions of weightlessness and zero gravity. Kowalski is on Stone to abandon her work, but Stone insists on completed a task just as sharp, large metal objects start hurling towards the astronauts. As the machinery is destroyed around them Kowalski and Stone are thrown away from the mayhem as the rest of the crew is killed. Kowalski is equipped with a booster system and is able to make his way to Stone as she spins away from Earth deep into space.
The two make effort to make way to a pod at the International Space Station. During the trip they noticed that all communication ceases with NASA. What remains is a horrendous effort to stay out of harm's way and return to Earth and survive. Will Kowalski and Stone survive, will they find a way home?
"Gravity" is a survival story that is reminiscent of Tom Hank's work in "Cast Away." This time the main subject is a woman that recently lost her daughter to a strange playground accident. Bullock effectively plays a woman depressed and going through the motions. It's apparent that Bullock worked out physically for the role as her physique is chiseled and refined. But it is Bullock's emotional transformation that takes place in the midst of great demands of pure survival that is remarkable.
The world of space is completely and delightfully replicated by director Alfonso Cuarón. The 3D version of the film also helps to make this world part of the audience's experience as if we were floating up in space alongside Bullock. The props that pose as the Space Station, Hubble telescope and Space Shuttle are completely convincing.
Art direction for creating the Earth below them and the magnificent score written Steven Price also help to create the world of zero gravity and set the pace for the film. Bravo!
All in all "Gravity," will have you glued to your seat from beginning to the end. It is a film that featured a tour-de-force performance by Bullock. It's proof the Bullocks Oscar win in 2010 for "The Blind Side," was not a fluke. This actress can act! Be ready Sandra, your next Oscar nomination is coming!
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones & no texting, please don't talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don't forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work on SilentHollywood.com