The thought of being lost in the middle of the wilderness with very little hope of getting home is frightening. Take that concept and than multiply it by a thousand and you might match the intensity of Gravity. Can you really find a wildness more vast and bleak as outer space? I think not. To me, the very thought of floating aimlessly in space is absolutely frightening, which would explain why I was pale as a ghost when I left the theater.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a mission specialist for NASA who’s been given the job to help with repairs to the Hubble Telescope. While this is her first mission to space, it is veteran Matt Kowalski’s (George Clooney) final space walk. All seems to be going well until news is heard by Mission Control that a Russian missile strike on obsolete equipment has cause debris to come hurtling towards their positions. Disaster strikes fast causing the two astronauts to be cut loose from their harnesses and begin drifting, caught in the earth’s gravitational orbit. Now, cut off from their harnesses and Mission Control, the two astronauts have to, somehow, find their way back to earth.
What an absolutely incredible movie. Sorry Star Trek Into Darkness. You have been knocked out of first place. Gravity is, in fact, the best movie of the year, hands down. To start with, it’s unbelievable how director Alfonso Cuarón, who has already proved his genius with Children of Men, and the rest of the cast and crew made it really seem like the audience is really in space with them. The combination of the outstanding visual effects, sound design (it’s very quiet up in space), and Cuarón’s typical use of long takes makes the weightlessness of drifting seem closer to home than ever before.
While it is certain that Gravity will get several award nominations for visual effects, I really hope that Sandra Bullock gets recognized for her performance. My last review I did was I Am Legend, where I compared Smith’s job to that of Tom Hanks in Cast Away and Sandra Bullock’s in, you guessed it, Gravity. For the most part, she is all alone in this movie, with George Clooney only helping her out in a few scenes. The emotional weight of this movie falls on her performance and if we are able to connect with her and buy her as a character. Luckily, she gives a great performance which serves to only push us a little bit closer to the edge of our seat.
Thematically, it’s going to be difficult for someone to top this movie in terms of dread. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are scenes of an astronaut drifting in space, but the whole thing is very science fiction, so it’s easy to remember that it’s just a movie. Gravity is science fiction, but very real science fiction. It’s a huge step from 2001. There’s no HAL 9000 or crazy wormhole. This is just earth, two astronauts, and an orbit that keeps them trapped. To me, that’s the worst situation that I have ever seen in a film.
Gravity stands tall next to Star Trek Into Darkness and Pacific Rim. In fact, Gravity holds its own against the greatest science fiction films ever made. This may be debatable thanks to some physical impossibilities and some die hard classic science fiction fans, but in my opinion it’s one of the best. Like I said, I walked out of this movie pale as a ghost, but at the same time I was so excited about what I just saw. Good news is I’m seeing it again this weekend. Be sure to catch this movie in IMAX or in 3D. It really adds a lot to the atmosphere. Make it your main objective to see Gravity, either way. It really is fantastic.