In space when something goes wrong, there are no rescue teams on standby and there is no easy escape. In the face of complete hopelessness, could you fight? My review of Gravity after the jump.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a Bio-medical engineer, is on her first mission to space, where she is charged with fixing and updating the Hubble Telescope. Accompanying her is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), leading his last mission before retirement. The pair find themselves in immense danger when mission control (voiced by Ed Harris) warns of a large band of debris heading in their direction. A routine mission suddenly becomes a fight for survival, as their space shuttle is irreparably damaged and they are left, adrift in space.
Gravity is one of the most intense, immersive and in many ways, terrifying experiences I have ever had at the cinema. This film is the definition of a ‘edge of your seat’ movie. From the get go you feel uneasy and it doesn’t let up. The immediate unease is due to the unease that Dr Stone is projecting – even before things go wrong, you already feel nervous. She is on her first mission and although she is clearly extraordinary intelligent, she is a novice in this world. Her unease is clear to us and to Matt Kowalski, who keeps the conversation between the two open. No topic is too mundane for Mike, not when the aim of the game is calming Dr Stone down. Throughout he keeps the banter going, offering Dr Stone and the audience, some much-needed relief from the ever building tension.
Sandra Bullock offers a masterclass in acting here – from fear to relief, disbelief to utter hopelessness, she portrays this expertly, often only through her facial expression and the pained tone in her voice. I have no idea how this film was made and in a way I don’t want to know; what I’m sure of however is that they weren’t in space, and this performance is the combination of incredible talent, skilled direction and an intelligent screenplay. I can’t imagine anyone other than George Clooney in the role of senior astronaut, Matt Kowalski. His charisma was the key element in the relationship between the two, while his seniority and experience offered relief and hope. Clooney was fantastic and I’m thankful Cuarón gave us moments of normalcy through his character and his incessant chatter and storytelling. It’s a credit to the writing that the characters were so grounded – not artificial or too dramatic; this played a massive part in my ability to give myself totally to the film.
There is no way I could even begin to try to describe the technical/special effects feat that is Gravity. It’s visually innovative and technically groundbreaking. The sound editing and mixing is superb, while the score is subtle, yet effective. What Cuarón and his team of highly talented film makers have done here is create a phenomenal cinema experience. Not many of us will ever go to space, but we can go to the cinema and experience this. I felt like I was in space with them, like the nothingness was consuming me and I had a real stake in film’s events. The extraordinary 3D effects pulled me into the film in a way I didn’t know was possible. Gravity shows what can be done with 3D when it’s the right film in the hands of the right people – its the first film since Avatar that I believe is a must-see in 3D. The 3D is so crucial to creating the expansive feeling of space.
Get out and see this film on the biggest screen you can find and experience an adventure in space like no other.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writer(s): Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Runtime: 90 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: October 3 2013; USA: October 4 2013