"Wow" is the appropriate one-word review for Gravity (opening today). It is the rare film that must be experienced, because to merely watch it would not do it justice.
Yes, that means that if you see Gravity, it better be in the theater - in IMAX and 3D if at all possible - or I'd argue that you haven't really seen it at all. Is it that good? Define "good." Gravity perhaps isn't the best film ever made from a qualitative standpoint, although from a technical standpoint, it's very similar to cavemen going from square wheels to round. How can a film blow past modern standards in visual wizardry? Go experience Gravity and find out.
The movie begins with director Alfonso Cuaron visually telling us that life in space is impossible. Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, an astronaut sent to repair the Hubble telescope. She is teamed with veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), amongst others. In an opening shot that goes on for at least 15 minutes, we learn that an explosion of a Russian satellite has caused a chain reaction and that wreckage is now hurdling towards their location in space. They must act fast to survive.
Nearly nothing goes as planned. But along for the ride we go.
In space, there is no gravity, no sound...just nothingness. There is an eery feeling in the film that we just don't belong up there. Dr. Stone enjoys the silence that space brings, but the silence is deafening. Up there, there is no up, or down, or left or right. The camera effectively makes no judgment on this reality, as it floats, spins, bobs and weaves without order for most of the film, creating simultaneously an invigorating and dizzying effect. Knowing that none of us have ever experienced space for ourselves, I'll put this simply: No other movie has ever felt like outer space. I didn't know that, until I saw Gravity.
Bullock gives a stellar performance as our isolated survivor. The thin back-story she is given and the few bits of dialogue she exchanges with her fellow astronaut do nothing to take away from the immersive nature of the film.
Best of all, Gravity offers something for everybody. This is an exciting, thrilling suspense movie that should please the most casual of movie-goers. It's more closely related to a theme park ride than a dramatic film...you leave the theater wanting to get in line and go again. But there are deeper issues at play too: Man's place in the universe, the smallness of being and the dangers of science. It's a thinking man's popcorn flick.
When astronauts return from space - being accustomed to the anti-gravity - they often feel weighed down...like they can barely lift their legs or rise from the ground. Perhaps that's Earth's way of saying: Stay close to me. Because what's up there, is not meant for you.
But thanks to this wondrous film, we can untether ourselves from the limits of technology. Gravity knows no limits and proves with a resounding punch that finally, without a doubt, quite literally anything is possible in the movies.
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction
Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Co-written by Jonas & Alfonso Cuaron
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
Opens locally on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 (check for show times).
Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 3:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday on MYTV20 in Detroit.
How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time