Gravity is a masterpiece. Simple as that. Alfonso Cuarón‘s latest science fiction project not only pushes the boundaries of special effects and technical accomplishments when it comes to shooting a film that actually feels like it takes place in space, but Gravity also firmly replants the science fiction genre right back where it belongs, telling a motivational human story about struggle, rebirth and never giving up, while surrounding it with a beautiful canvas full of empty space. Gravity is more than visual treat for space-lovers and sci-fi junkies. Gravity is a gripping tale of survival and it’s an airtight experience that will have you gripping your seat and gasping for oxygen.
Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer that’s not the biggest fan of space. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is an astronaut that simply loves everything about the deep and empty darkness. It brings him peace and happiness, while it brings her claustrophobia and panic.
Together, the two are working on fixing a telescope, when all of a sudden something very bad happens, which causes them to drift away from their safety zone. The rest unfolds in brilliant fashion as director Alfonso Cuarón creates one of the most frightening pieces of fiction to ever grace the big screen. Gravity‘s plot isn’t one that you want to know all about, because half of the experience is best left discovering for yourself.
What I can tell you is that Gravity is absolutely intense and a film that can both be described as horrifying and beautiful. Cuarón wisely balances the two, constantly cranking up the energy through the way of sight and sound.
Gravity looks absolutely breathtaking. Cuarón picks and chooses his shots to maximize the beauty and terror of space. Those of you that thought his camerawork on Children of Men was impressive should know that Gravity knocks that film completely out of orbit and reinvents the way we’re going to be looking at space films. The film is full of some of the longest and most steady shots that I’ve ever seen and not once do they act as a technical gimmick.
The film moves fast, yet it always has time to stop at study the beauty and really give the viewer a first-class ticket on what it feels like to actually be in space. Gravity feels very much like a real-life NASA IMAX documentary, only it’s not and sometimes that’s a very hard reality to face, because everything looks and feels so authentic and real.
3D is often wasted when it comes to post-conversion, yet Cuarón carefully applies the third dimension to each and every scene, only heightening the experience and making it that much more in-depth. Nothing pops out in the traditional gimmicky sense, but a bulk of the film is only made that much more immersive through the use of 3D presentation. See this one on the largest and loudest IMAX screen possible, because it’ll change the way we look at “event” films.
The film’s musical score is a pulse-pounding experience of its own, composed by Steven Price with raw power that’s startling and creepy, yet soft and hypnotic. The music goes up and down in volume as it contrasts what’s happening on the screen with an almost perfect pitch. The mixing is also finely tuned and executed in a way that’s just as comparable to the film’s groundbreaking camera and special effects techniques.
Every single thing about Gravity feels like new and exciting filmmaking unfolding in front of our very own eyes. On a technical level, the film is a groundbreaking achievement that not only pushes the boundaries for special effects, but also for how filmmakers can use their cameras and crew with such complex rigs and setups to deliver something so magical.
But none of that matters if there’s not a strong emotional core and I can assure you that Gravity‘s story is just as strong as its presentation. The film evokes such strong emotions as its large scope sets up for a rather small-scaled and personal story about one character’s rebirth. Sandra Bullock must be commended for her portrayal of Ryan Stone.
Stone is the most relatable character of the film, clearly presenting herself as a struggling person that’s not meant for space travel or much of anything after an event went on to change her life. Bullock spends most of the film floating around space in a panic, yet she manages to connect us almost instantly to Stone and her insecurities and fears, but as the film progresses so does she and part of that is due to the film’s excellent writing, while most of it is because of Bullock’s understanding of the character and willingness to take things all the way.
There’s such a satisfying and moving feeling that comes across by the film’s end and none of that would have mattered had Bullock not elevated the character and the entire film to a level that I simply was not expecting. Gravity might be getting praised for its artistic images and realistic approach to space, but it’ll be remembered for Bullock’s performance, which gives us a human element to not only interest ourselves in, but to also root for.
George Clooney does fine work in a supporting role that mostly only gives him room to stretch his legs. He’s a great addition to the cast and that much-needed dose of humor and range, but he’s mostly playing second fiddle to Bullock and that doesn’t seem to bother him or really hurt his performance and its overall impact on the film.
He does what is expected of him and that’s not a knock on him at all, just a note that he’s not going to be the one performance that you take away from the film.
Gravity is one hell of a ride. One that will surely be talked about for years, because of how remarkable it truly is. Cuarón has made a film that almost anyone can marvel over for its simple beauty and easy to digest story, but also a film that ambitiously accomplishes so much more beneath the surface.
Gravity is a phenomenal achievement for the world of film. It’s one that pushes the technical side of filmmaking to a whole new level, while also bringing back the true meaning of science fiction to the art of film.
This is the space film that we’ve been waiting for since 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a very different beast, but equally impressive when it comes to what it set out to accomplish and how much it manages to go beyond that bar and continue to awe and inspire.
Gravity – 10/10