No adjective appropriately conveys the sense of awe that washes over you while viewing the cinematically brilliant “Gravity.”
Alfonso Cuaron’s (“Children of Men”) film is majestic. The CGI and special effects used make 600 kilometers above Earth more surreal than flying caped crusaders. Not since Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” has an audience truly been captivated by a film’s ability to adequately demonstrate the vastness, hopelessness and wonderment of space.
Sandra Bullock stars as Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first voyage into outer space. She’s having a rough go, barely able to keep from vomiting as she works. Fortunately, she’s accompanied by Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), a smooth talking veteran on his last voyage.
Kowalsky is floating around space bouncing back and forth between the spacecraft and a satellite Stone is working on when Houston informs the crew to abort their mission – from this point on, strap on your seat belt, and take a deep breath.
The Russians used a missile to destroy one of their satellites, which causes a major debris field to orbit the Earth at supersonic speeds, destroying everything in its path. Stone soon finds herself displaced, flipping end over end into the vast emptiness – only Kowalsky’s calm over the radio saves Stone from floating for eternity into the abyss. With their ship destroyed and no communication with Earth, their only chance is to make it to the International Space Station. But, of course, they’re running out of oxygen and jet fuel. Ever the optimist, Kowalsky uses his charm to get Stone to concentrate by talking to her about her life on Earth.
At this point in the film, the more human element comes to the forefront as Stone describes to Kowalsky a personal tragedy and explains why her favorite thing to do when not pulling 18-hour shifts in the emergency room is to simply drive. But the duo doesn’t have long before the next round of space debris heads their way – Kowalsky uses some sort of magic (math) to calculate the amount of time it takes the debris to orbit the Earth. And, once the pair reaches the space station, their plight, especially Stone’s, becomes more complicated.
The majority of the movie feels as though it was filmed in one long, breathtaking shot. There’s an organic feeling, as you get lost in Stone’s desperate attempt to live. It’s as though you’re placing yourself inside that space suit.
“Gravity” sucks you in with its cinematography and acting. Space is infinite. And, as Stone peers out from the space station back at Earth, you’re reminded of your insignificance – hopelessly small in the grand scheme of the universe.
Bullock gives the performance of her career and looks even more beautiful than when she first burst onto the scene as Keanu Reeves’ sidekick in “Speed.” Clooney is his typical charming, cocky self who certainly looks and acts the part of those 1960s’ heroes that the American public fell in love with. My only complaint is I wanted more. “Gravity” is the pinnacle of filmmaking. You lose yourself for an evening in a place that will always fascinate – space – and walk away with a child-like awe and enthusiasm.
5 stars out of 5
“Gravity” is rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.