Gravity – A Review

Gravity is a new Sci-fi thriller staring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men).

It might also be the first great movie I’ve seen this year. I recommend it whole heartedly. I also recommend seeing it in the theatre with 3D.

The plot is simple. An accident occurs that leaves the stars adrift in space. Nothing protecting them except their space suits. It is set in current times. So there is no magical gadget that will save them.

Will they live or not?

Gravity is an atypical disaster film. (Disaster films are when something goes wrong and folks try to live. Towering Inferno is an early example. Airplane! parodied the genre. ) The movie premise lays out the threat. Each scene is a complication or escalation of the threat that must be overcome. Within each scene are smaller hurdles that distract.

Unlike the typical such movie there is a tiny cast. Normally the movie has a pile of actors and the dumb and belligerent ones are killed by the threat to emphasize its deadliness.

Gravity has just it’s two stars. Bullock is mission specialist Stone (a novice). Clooney is lieutenant Kowalski (a veteran). It doesn’t need more chaff to sacrifice. The threat of death in space is so present.

The movie uses science. Weightlessness is the big effect. Vacuum and pressure changes are next. Oxygen deprivation, solitude, fire all play roles. All of this is next to the contrast of tiny people in bulky suits within the vastness of space.

I found it captivating. Each threat had me on the edge of my seat anew. There are startling action scenes, not the slow motion of 2002, but mad bursts of movement.

And it is filmed so well. It doesn’t come through in the trailers. You need the immersion of the big screen. The film only spends a few minutes in setup – character establishment, the setting – before the accident occurs. But you’re already immersed. The opening bit is one of the scariest movie moments I’ve ever seen.

The movie tells us in the opening that life in space is impossible. Character wise the movie is all about showing the willpower and ingenuity of those who just won’t accept that truism.

Clooney is good in his role. He is calm and steady and makes jokes. But Bullock is who we relate to. Her character Stone’s fear, bravery, stupidity, brilliance, and determination drive every frame of the show. It is excellent. Just thrilling.

Of course the movie wouldn’t be complete if Stone didn’t also have her own personal demons to face in addition to the external threats. That subplot too works great.

The result is just amazing. I laughed out loud. I had tears roll down my cheeks. I laughed, I cried is normally hyperbole, but it is simple truth about my reaction to this film. I was also in turns ecstatic and terrified. If you let this movie take you it is an incredible time.

Go see this one.

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