Movie Review: Gravity
It takes only seconds into Alfonso Cuaron’s emotionally powerful and visually breathtaking space survival story Gravity for your heart to begin to race. The film opens with some facts about the great mystery that is space while the film’s beautiful and bone chilling music builds to a point where it then goes silent and the title appears on screen, almost as if its a warning for what’s to some over the next 91 minutes. Then the visuals appear. If you think you have seen the best there is to offer for visual effects in film (i.e Avatar and Life of Pi), then you’ve got another thing coming. And it’s called Gravity.
But this is not just any ordinary visually dazzling intense space movie. Although it is actually all of those things, it is also a beautifully crafted emotional masterpiece that transcends the usual formula for a exciting space movie. Also if that isn’t enough it features Sandra Bullock (opposite a typically charming George Clooney) in her best work of her whole career, sorry Crash and Blind Side, but her raw performance in this film grips you like an iron vice and refuses to let go, taking you on a wild journey that will leave you noticeably shaken by the time the credits roll.
The whole concept of making a larger-than-life movie and only having two actors, who are also two very famous actors, is extremely risky. Because you better make sure, as the director and screenwriter, that those actors are ready to carry the entire film and not let the audience lose interest. This normally does not work, for example Ryan Reynolds’ doomed survival drama Buried and Elizabeth Olsen’s single shot horror film Silent House, but then you have a film like 127 Hours with James Franco and faith in the single or double actor film can be restored.
Without spoiling much, which in this movie’s case is shockingly easy to do, here is some limited background information. Bullock plays a newbie astronaut, Dr. Ryan Stone, who has recently lost her only child to a fatal playground accident and is still reeling from the loss, and Clooney plays a laid back, been-there-done-that astronaut, Matt Kowalsky, with a happy go lucky attitude towards pretty much everything while Bullock’s Ryan is seconds from breaking down from stress as she is very new to everything she is asked to do. Their job is to maintain the wellbeing of their ship Explorer but complications arise when a Soviet satellite explodes and has sent debris hurtling in their direction. And in just moments all of the wonderful visuals and charming banter between Clooney’s Matt and Houston’s Mission Control (voiced by Ed Harris), vanishes just as the debris appears, and then ensues some of the most gripping, visceral and haunting sequences that I have experienced in a theater.
However, even with all of the grandiose and magnitude of Gravity, Bullock keeps the film grounded with a purely human and stripped down performance that will move you out of sadness, inspiration, love and sadness again. I would not be surprised if we see her back on that stage come March 2nd claiming her second Oscar statuette, and anyone who has seen this movie already knows she’s pretty damn deserving of it. Don’t think just because of his lack of a discussion in this review that Clooney isn’t great in this movie, it’s just this is and will continue to be, Sandra’s movie. In addition when you see this movie (which you will do, in 3D I might add), look if you can spot a little, maybe completely accidental reference to The Shawshank Redemption during the second half of the film and make sure you pay attention to the film’s score by composer Steven Price which lends an entirely deeper emotional vehemence to the film on top of Cuaron’s masterful direction and Bullock’s bravura turn as a rookie that must become adept in sheer seconds in order to survive.