Gravity director, Alphonso Cuarón said that after this, he will never make another “space” movie. Thankfully, the “space” movie that he did make is nothing short of spectacular, and should certainly make any director think twice before making the next “space” movie.
Superlatives abound when describing the intensity and the mind-blowing visual effects of Gravity. Set in space, Gravity opens with the words, “Life in space is impossible,” and five better words do not exist to serve as prologue for the film that follows. Doctor Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are on a NASA satellite repair mission 600 kilometers above Earth’s surface when rogue debris from a Russian satellite detonation rip through their station at 50,000 MPH, decimating their ship and sending the astronauts hurdling into space.
Cuarón majestically dazzles the viewer in the opening scene with epic silence, sweeping camera movements, and sensory immersion that rivals that of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. He magnifies the strangeness and utter complexity of being suspended in space as Stone and Kowalski are shown performing a variety of tasks as they complete their mission while communicating via radio between each other and their contact at Mission Control in Houston (Ed Harris).
The peaceful, serene tone of the film’s first ten minutes is mesmerizing but unsettling as a twinge of impending doom is resting uneasily in the audience’s mind. The thrilling contrast of the sudden catastrophe that befalls Stone and Kowalski is also handled with pure terror. Tonal comparisons can be made to the 2003 film Open Water where primal fear is explored as two scuba divers are abandoned in the middle of the ocean hundreds of miles from shore. Gravity taps into that same primal fear with expertise and style.
Gravity is a true cinematic ride. While not deep in content, the film is absorbing, terrifying, and authentic. Clooney and Bullock carry the movie with ease and with a tight running time of 91 minutes, the small cast merely emphasizes the ironically claustrophobic nature of space. Cuarón’s choices of point of view are magnificent as he allows the camera to effortlessly and seamlessly transition in and out of first-person at the most opportune times. Few films give an audience such awareness and consciousness. In once scene Bullock’s character is suddenly sent spinning into deep space. She loses radio communication and the camera assumes Bullock’s point of view. The audience abruptly is thrown into a very real experience of spinning, attempting to gain a point of reference, discovering oxygen levels are low, and likely literally holding their breath. This is a movie to experience in a theater! A
Gravity is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 1 hour and 31 minutes. See it on the largest screen possible; it is playing in IMAX and XTreme theaters and can be seen in both 2D and 3D. The People’s Critic saw the film in 2D, but many critics say this is a film worthy of the 3D surcharge.