GRAVITY

GRAVITY

By Gary Murray

Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

Written by Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Running time 90 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE

 

Over the years, science films and science fiction films have changed.  Arguably, it started with Forbidden Planet.   Before that moment, sci-fi films were basically of bug-eyed monsters attacking pretty, young women.  Forbidden Planet was a film that took the science of science fiction very seriously.  It paved the way for 2001: A Space Odyssey another film fully grounded into the science of the day and what could be.  The latest on this path is Gravity—one of the most amazing looking films of any decade. 

The film opens with a loud chord then the silence of space, with the Earth in all its glowing majesty.  It is a single shot that is spectacular.  This is a film that needs to be seen on a big screen with state of the art projection and sound, just to do it justice. 

The story is of a space walk gone totally awry.  Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a mission specialist working on a space telescope.  She is assisted by astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney).  He is not tethered to the ship but has an individual flying suit.  With this apparatus, Matt can jut around space, floating free.  It is the coolest toy—ever.

They get the report that the Russians have blown up a spy satellite.  Debris is flying toward them at hundreds of miles an hour.  Matt says that they have to board the space shuttle Explorer now but Ryan hesitates for a moment, trying to finish her job.  Then the shower of metal hits the crew, destroying just about everything.  It is melee that is both frightening and breathtakingly beautiful.

Very soon, Ryan is jettisoned from Explorer, floating in space.  It is a harrowing moment of isolation and desolation.  With her oxygen running low, she begins to contemplate her demise.  Then out of the blackness, Matt comes to the rescue.  He tethers Ryan to his flying suit and they go toward the ship,    Even though Ryan is scared, Matt assures her that she is to survive.  He is one tough cowboy.

At the Explorer they realize that the ship will never make it back to earth.  Their only hope it to fly toward the ISS, which has been abandoned due to the wreckage.  They will get inside, take the second escape pod and go home.  The rest of Gravity is the journey to the ISS and all the harrowing mishaps that happen both along the way and at the station.  It is a thrilling action adventure piece that takes place in the dark recesses of the void.

This is not a science fiction film but a film that takes place in space.  Everything in this film could happen right now (well, if we still had a shuttle program).  There are no bug-eyed aliens or intergalactic space ships.   Something like this could readily happen in our world.  The film does show stellar carnage would destroy the entire world space program but it could become a possibility in some ‘near time’.  The fact that it feels real enhances the experience. 

Sandra Bullock is one of the best actresses of her generation.  She has this girl next door charm that makes every audience root for her.  It is believable that she is a flawed space explorer.  She brings us into the screenplay and we go along with the ride.  Sandra has to basically carry all of the film, working mostly by herself and she performs perfectly.  This is the kind of role that gets the Oscar nods.

Even though George Clooney is given equal billing, he is more of a secondary character in Gravity.   He has this rogue charm in the reading but he pales beside the work of Bullock.  Yes, he is a likeable sort but this is a film solely focused on the fairer sex. 

This film will be the work that sets Alfonso Cuaron as an A-list director for the next few decades.  It is the kind of movie that proves that the director can do anything behind the camera.  The man behind the art house favorite of Y Tu Mama Tambien and the major blockbuster of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has made easily the best film of his career.    

The production of Gravity is flawless.  Every moment looks exactly as if were pulled from a NASA documentary.  This is a use of CGI and green screen technology that will fill special effects film books for years to come.  It is past the idea of ‘state of the art’ technology.

Years from now, Gravity will be compared to other space films such as 2001:  A Space Odyssey in a favorable light.  It will be studied by film students on the technical aspects of how a film is made and on the emotional aspects of creating a thrill ride.  It is one of the best films of the year and an experience that is a must-see event. 

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