Gravity (2013) isn’t just another space junket for science geeks. Director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men (2006)) has captured the face of survival against the awesome backdrop that only space can provide. Gravity is extraordinary in every way possible. From the performances to the atmospheric surroundings, as an audience member, you will suffer through the hollowness of space to the claustrophobia within a space suit just as the characters do.
A medical engineer, Doctor Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and an American astronaut, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), are in the final stages of repairing the Hubble telescope. As they relish their full-time jobs and begin to wrap-up their final assignment, the worst possible scenario occurs. In the flash of an eye, the comforting voice of Houston Control (Ed Harris – seemingly reprising his role from Apollo 13 (1995)) warns the two of an approaching issue that leaves Dr. Stone and Kowalski in full survival mode for the remainder of the film.
To capture the terror and obstacles both Ryan and Kowalski encounter, Cuarón masterfully switches from inside Ryan’s helmet to her chaotic surroundings without ever breaking the shot. Not for a second did I think there were two actors in front of a blue screen. Not once did I feel anywhere else other than floating through space.
It is a bit of a shame that Sandra Bullock won her Oscar for such a (in my ornery opinion) horrible movie in The Blind Side (2009). Her character was one we’ve seen a thousand times before (and we will see a thousands times after). As Ryan Stone, however, she delivered the depth and despair the role required. Sandra Bullock deserves to have received her Oscar achievement for this. Although her character didn’t have a drastic arc throughout the storyline, never once did your eyes shift from her when she was on screen. The film could not be effective unless she has the perfect balance of presence and fear—and she does.
I loved this film, and seeing it in 3-D only made it more enjoyable. If it weren’t for the jaw-dropping effects, my chin would have been sore from the amount of tension. The vast space between the characters and earth is a stark reminder of the likelihood of death and doesn’t allow you to rest until the credits roll off the screen. It twists and turns your insides.
There are no gimmicks in the narrative. There is no love story, no flashbacks, not even any frames with Houston in it. It’s only two people drifting in space doing everything to muster the courage to survive. The film set out to take you to a place you’ve never been before, and it achieved its goal. I recommend you sit back, and let Gravity cast you adrift.