Director: Alfonso Cuaron Starring: Sandra Bullock & George Clooney Synopsis: “A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.” Runtime: 91 minutes
“Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.”
Despite all the spectacle and clever use of CG effects, Gravity is a character piece. Yes, it’s a big budget science fiction movie too, but first and foremost, this film is about two astronauts and the struggle they face to get back home after a cataclysmic event destroys their shuttle and, seemingly, any hope they had of getting back home.
If you spend just a few minutes looking at other reviews of Gravity, you will spot a constant in their wording, words like astonishing, mind-blowing and spectacular will all appear again and again. The thing is, it’s all of those things and more. In an age where every movie has to be bigger than the last, and city-wide destruction is commonplace, it’s comes as a surprise to find a film that does feel truly unique, and for this alone, Gravity should be applauded.
The film stars Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone) & George Clooney (Matt Kowalski) as two astronauts who are performing maintenance on the Hubble Telescope. Both characters are instantly likeable, Stone with her naivety and clear nervousness at being in space for the first time, and with only 6 months training under her belt. While Kowalski is the seasoned veteran, a clear adventurer who enjoys telling stories of years gone by. The two, despite their grand jobs, come across as the everyman, performing an extraordinary job but remaining humble at the same time.
The two are guided by mission control back at Houston, voiced by Ed Harris, who soon informs them that a rogue Russian rocket has a hit another satellite, which has caused debris to be sent flying into space. Even though Houston warns them they are unlikely to be hit & should merely stay alert, Stone & Kowalski are soon faced with hundreds of pieces of metal shards hurtling their way, and this is where the film really begins.
Sent hurtling into orbit after her umbilical cord is severed from the shuttle, Stone is floating in a blind panic, while Kowalski’s voice is shouting at her and ordering her to calm down and give him a position so he can attempt to find her. The following few minutes are rammed full of tension, real white knuckle tension and, excuse the term as it’s so often used, but it leaves you breathless. It’s a word flung around too often these days, and is used on posters and buses and wherever else the film may be advertised, it’s a buzzword, but here, in Gravity it’s true.
As I mentioned earlier, Gravity is a character piece, and full credit should be given to Bullock & Clooney for fleshing out what is otherwise a fairly generic plot. Two astronauts lost in space is not new, so massive credit should also be given to director Alfonso Cuaron, who has made a truly beautiful spectacle.
Along with Cuaron, his team of special effects engineers have created a wonderful looking movie. Never once does the imagery falter, or the CG ever come into question. The techniques used to create all the visuals are astonishing and Earth has never looked more beautiful. Even the nuts and bolts that occasionally float towards the screen look to be of the highest detail. It’s a film where every detail seems to have been put together perfectly and with a reason. Stanley Kubrick would be proud.
In Summary: Rarely does a film deserve the hype it receives in this day & age, but Gravity is the exception, proving that there are still directors out there who can truly astound us with their work. While Gravity may not work for everyone, don’t go in expecting balls to the wall action, & may test a few people’s patience, it is a remarkable film that will surely win many awards and deservedly so.