A good movie should engage its audience, both with its story and characters. If done right, films can enchant us to visit another world and feel for these imaginary people. Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” does all that and more, thanks to powerhouse performances from Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and incredible effects that capture both the awe and danger of being in space.
We open with a 17-minute continuous shot, introducing us to Bullock as rookie Dr. Ryan Stone and Clooney as veteran Matt Kowalski, repairing a shuttle in Earth’s orbit. This shot is absolutely beautiful, both in its breathtaking vision of floating in space but also in the visual mastery it displays for the film medium.
The peaceful situation abruptly changes as a field of space debris collides with the two astronauts’ shuttle, sending them adrift. The remainder of the film is a survival story, simple in plot but terrifying in execution.
The film nails what it feels like for an astronaut to roam the cosmos. One minute it’s peaceful, the next something unpredictable happens. Utter silence pervades scenes of destruction that would scream at you in summer blockbusters.
Elegant shots of the Sun rising over the Earth are wondrous to behold. The cinematography is gorgeous, and as such, the few uses of 3D actually enhance the picture rather than detract from it.
But for all this talk of how the film looks, the true achievement lies with the film’s only two characters. Bullock deserves a huge amount of credit here for spending a majority of the film alone, trying to cope with the desperation of drifting in space. As her partner and emotional anchor, Clooney plays what is essentially comic relief, but he’s a great source of levity in an otherwise serious space thriller.
Bullock is the one who really carries the film, as she navigates several space stations to find an escape pod that can take her home. In this simple tale of survival, we feel Bullock’s hopelessness as she’s flung into a desperate situation, lending real ‘gravity’ to the action.
Not only is this one of the best science fiction films to emerge of late, it’s also one of the best films of the last decade, period. I can’t remember the last time a film was this engaging in its use of character, action, visuals and story. “Gravity” is simply a masterpiece of filmmaking, one that needs to be seen immediately, preferably in IMAX 3D, to appreciate its genius.