Gravity, the brainchild of Alfonso Cuarón, is what many would call a masterpiece. This terrifying tale of survival manages to pack more tension into its 90-minute runtime than all of the Alien movies combined, and it didn’t even require vicious monsters to do so. The vast vacuum of space coupled with the thought of helplessly floating through its rivers of emptiness induces real fear, the type you can truly feel, and the predicament of the astronauts will keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll.
At times the sheer scope and beauty of Gravity’s cinematography will leave you awe struck, providing a feeling of serenity even with the horrors being inflicted upon the main characters right before your eyes. Your mind will want to soak in the glorious camera work and special effects, but your heart will ache for the human factor. This is Gravity, and true to its namesake it will pull you in and keep a hold of you whether you want it to or not.
There are two factors that make Gravity such an enthralling film to experience. The first is the cast, which is headlined by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, who is on her first ever space mission to help enhance the Hubble telescope. She’s confident in her abilities as a scientist, stubborn to a point, but relatively green when it comes to being an astronaut. Clooney’s character on the other hand, Matt Kowalski, exudes confidence as he’s on his last of many missions to space, and he is commanding the operation that Stone is involved in. Kowalski is your typical leader, quick in his decision making and cool under pressure. His confidence and stability are what help to keep Dr. Stone focused when all hell breaks loose, which it does within minutes of Gravity’s opening.
The second factor that makes this film so special and exhilarating to behold is its out-of-this-world cinematography. The sprawling vistas of Earth’s orbit are captured in a way that would lead you to believe that Alfonso Cuarón charted a trip to space to shoot this film. Seeing how diminutive our creations and bodies look in space provides a sense of scope that no other film that has been set in the void of the unknown has managed to pull off. Earth’s atmosphere and the items we’ve launched into its orbit seem comical when set against the sheer size of our beloved planet, and the deep dark waves of nothingness that surround it. Space is indeed the antagonist in Gravity, and Cuarón’s masterful one shot takes of his cast juxtaposed with the mesmerizing backdrop of our planet’s home, make it more terrifying and beautiful than any space drama before it.
With these two ingredients in place Gravity will take hold of your senses and toy with them until its ready to let go. The bulk of the film’s plot is centered around survival while staring certain death in the face. The struggles of Stone and Kowalski are not too unlike other films that have featured stories of humans fighting to stay alive when the odds are stacked against them such as Life of Pi, 127 Hours, and Cast Away.
After their ship and fellow crew mates are destroyed by the untimely destruction of a Russian satellite, Stone and the stalwart Kowalski are left to survive a seemingly unsurvivable predicament. During the disaster Stone is hurled into space like a rag doll and the fear she experiences can be felt within your own soul. This is a result of Sandy’s brilliant acting, but also because of how Alfonso used various perspectives to tell the narrative. At times he’d give the audience a first person view of the terror, which when coupled with IMAX 3D technology made it feel as if your own body and mind were being pulled through space just like the characters on screen. Other scenes he’d provide a third-person perspective to offer a view of the entire predicament.
Just imagining how terrifying it would be to literally be lost in space was palpable throughout Gravity. Each desperate grab by Stone or Kowalski for something to hold onto felt like a last ditch effort at life, and this type of desperate situation is thrown at you over and over until you truly start believing that there is no hope for the two lost astronauts. The tension caused by these scenes makes you feel alive, and when you think that the characters may finally be safe your hopes get dashed by another catastrophe. The thrills literally do not cease until the last scene, and by then you will have already experienced heavy doses of fear, sadness, exhilaration, and peace.
Gravity is a film going experience not to be missed in 2013. It grabs hold of you and keeps you pressed against your seat just like it does in real life, while also throwing a gamut of emotions at you from every angle. The cast, led by Bullock and Clooney, are stellar and give authenticity to the fear being experienced by their characters. The true star though is space itself thanks to Cuarón’s masterful vision of it that he painted with 90-minutes of cinematography excellence. Go see this film, you’re senses and soul will thank you afterwards.