After the stream of science fiction films that have come out this past year, Gravity has definitely taken the lead with stunning visuals, suspense, intensity, and 90 minutes of awe-inspiring views of the expanses of space.
Alfonso Cuarón has successfully orchestrated a film of beautiful aesthetics, exposing a breathtaking view of Earth from the U.S. Space Shuttle right at the onset and reminding us how far filmmaking has come in CGI and special effects. An original storyline from the minds of Cuarón and his son, Gravity transports the audience into space and depicts the devastating aftermath of the destruction of a U.S. Space Shuttle, leaving two astronauts stranded in the expansive wasteland of space.
Sandra Bullock shines as the uptight and professional Dr. Ryan Stone, who is very reserved about her feelings and remaining dutiful only to her job. Her character is juxtaposed with Kowalski (George Clooney), a lively veteran astronaut and someone who you’d want to be next to in a perilous situation.
As debris from a Russian space shuttle suddenly comes flying towards their location in orbit, the U.S. Station is completely obliterated, loosening Bullock’s bearings on the shuttle system and to her fellow astronaut. She is expelled into the barren wasteland, and is unable to control her movements as there is no gravity to force her into one position. The stars look bleaker, the black looks darker, the space shuttle becomes more of a memory, and Earth, once home, just drifts farther and farther away.
All in the first five minutes.
Coming into the theater with very little knowledge of the plot, I had understood that the film (based on the trailers) was going to be Sandra Bullock and George Clooney floating around in space for the extent of the film. So after the first five minutes, you can imagine why most of the members in the audience were holding their breaths and gripping the arm-handles with sweaty palms and rapid heartbeats.
The film is wrought with mystery, intrigue, and silence. Lots and lots of silence. Gravity is extremely perspective driven, almost akin to I Am Legend. The shots emphasize the one-person narrative effect, almost seeming as if it was filmed in seamless shot, in which the camera constantly pans from a clear image of Earth to a more distorted and opaque vision through Bullock’s helmet. The audience is placed so that they are living vicariously through Stone’s harrowing experience. We’re meant to feel pain, horror, and the rush of adrenaline as Bullock faces challenge after challenge. I’ve honestly not felt more anxiety watching a film than I have with Gravity.
It’s interesting to note that while Gravity can be classified as a science fiction film, it’s based on what could potentially happen if everything were to go wrong on a mission in space. It’s a classic human vs. environment film, which makes it all the more scary. There are tragic references to real-life missions that went wrong, and how they relate to Stone’s experiences and her complete breakdown. In another sense, this take on a mission-gone-wrong gives the audience a chance to explore the behind-the-scenes of space shuttles.
In the case that Gravity remained completely scientifically accurate concerning the make-up of the shuttle (even though we can always rely on Neil DeGrasse Tyson to debunk the physics), it was pretty fascinating to see how all the shuttle hardware operates, and how Bullock is forced to use machinery to attempt to save her life.
To be honest, there’s not too much that happens in the plot. This means that the film tends to have a lot of moments focusing on every move that Bullock makes with intense clarity and honesty. While some may find this aspect of Gravity to be boring and sparse, it actually made the movie even more likable for me.
We’ve all been exposed to thrillers with multiple characters, constant warfare, and so on and so forth. Yet Gravity takes its place as a thriller with just one character and one perspective, making every action that Stone makes and every calamity that occurs even more terrifying to watch while being confined within the plush cushion of a theater seat. There’s a constant temptation to just close your eyes and forget what’s going on in the screen, to somehow transport yourself back to barriers of gravity, but then you remember that this escapism is just not something that the Stone can do, and so you must go through the extent of the film along with everyone else.
I’ve always been a fan of Cuarón’s work, and he’s definitely brought his A-game in both the creative and technical fields. Bullock’s performance as Stone is definitely a (gravitational) force to be reckoned with, and is (bear with me) lightyears from her earlier roles. So for fantastic acting, breathtaking visuals, and just general intensity, this film is a must-see. If given the option, I’d definitely recommend seeing the movie in IMAX 3D.
Honestly, go all out, because seeing Gravity is much more of an stimulation and experience than just a simple movie-outing. If you do go, just remember one thing: Don’t Let Go.