October 9, 2013 by Paul Curtin
Alfonso Cuarón isn’t a household name when it comes to big budget action films, but after this, he sure as hell should be. The director best known for making arguably the greatest of the Harry Potter films and the critically acclaimed Children of Men has outdone himself once again with his latest fictional-science thriller. Gravity is easily one of the best films of 2013 and is sure to go down as a masterpiece among the likes of other great classic space films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apollo 13.
As hinted by in the trailer, unlike other space thrillers, there isn’t much to Gravity’s plot: Astronauts are in space trying to make repairs on the Hubble Telescope when things go bad… really bad. With all the billion dollar technology surrounding them, when stranded in space, newbie engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and the much more experienced Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are forced to deal with the true horror of being lost in space and as a result must resort to their most basic human instinct, survival.
The beauty of Gravity is in its simplicity. While there are some overarching themes and a bit of dialog between the characters that at times can border on being a little cheesy if you really want to nitpick, for the most part the acting is appropriate, and the scenes are orchestrated phenomenally. And the nerve-wracking score also mixes perfectly with the chilling sound of dead silence in space to really set the terrifying tone of the film.
The chemistry between Bullock and Clooney is near-flawless, and even with a bit of cheese, the writing and acting will manage to pull you in and make you laugh a little while still tugging at your heartstrings and playing with your emotions. It’s one of Bullock and Clooney’s best performances. Stone and Kowalski are likeable characters, and you’ll want to root for them both against all odds.
With no subplots bogging down the story, Cuarón is able to focus strictly on the characters’ dire situation, without having to constantly cut back and forth between scenes that sap the tension. Certain shots like the opening scene are as long as twenty minutes, and you’ll be sucked in and focused on every single second in awe.
The absolutely stunning visuals mixed with Cuarón’s skill of setting up long continuous shots more than makes up for the heavy amount of CGI used in the film when compared to other filmmakers’ more practical styles. Enough good things cannot be said about the visuals, and Cuarón has created some of the most jaw-dropping, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat moments of all time. You’ll feel like you’re right there next to the characters and at times even in their boots. Gravity might not have been shot in 70mm film, but seeing it in any format other than IMAX 3D is a huge mistake.
Everything about Gravity is well thought out and choreographed. Even the use of familiar voice Ed Harris (Apollo 13) as Mission Control is brilliant. Gravity is a film that filmmakers can respect on a technical level and regular moviegoers can appreciate while being blown away by the experience. It’s something never before seen and the next best thing to actually going to space (sorry, Space Camp). It’s one hell of a trip that’s not one to miss while still in theaters, and I can’t wait to get the 3D Blu-ray to watch it over and over again. Gravity gets 5 out of 5 stars (Masterpiece).