When I saw the first trailer for “Gravity”, I knew this was going to be one of the movie events of 2013: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts in trouble in space, along with some amazing visuals. And the film doesn’t disappoint. “Gravity” is a heart-pounding adventure, set in a unique location.
Bullock’s Ryan Stone is a medical engineer on her first trip to space. For Clooney’s Matt Kowalski, this is his final mission working 372 miles above the Earth – the end of a long career as a shuttle astronaut. They, and a third colleague, are on the space shuttle Explorer. From the first minute of the film director Alfonso Cuaron pulls us into the story with incredible visuals, as Stone and Kowalski are attempting to make some simple repairs to the shuttle. Mission Control (voiced appropriately by “Apollo 13″‘s Ed Harris) is also part of the conversation, with Kowalski telling stories and cracking jokes in an attempt to make the inexperienced Stone feel more at ease.
But then things begin to go terribly wrong. Satellite debris is on its way, so the astronauts need to get inside the shuttle. But they don’t make it to safety in time, and for the rest of the film, we watch intently as these two struggle for survival, in hopes that they can make it back home alive.
“Gravity” has a very limited story and, at 90 minutes, is much shorter than most current major studio films. But Cuaron (“Children of Men”), who also co-wrote the screenplay and co-edited the film, packs every minute with action,
suspense, drama, and some heart-pounding
moments. Emotions run high for the astronauts and for the audience. I saw “Gravity” in IMAX 3D. It’s a space movie for crying out loud – that’s what IMAX was made for! And Cuaron delivers on his promise with incredible camerawork. Obviously, the phrase “shot on location” is no where to be seen in the closing credits, but you wouldn’t know it. There are several astonishing visuals during the very intense action scenes. A few early close-up shots of Clooney and Bullock do scream Green Screen, but other than that the look is quite authentic.
As for the performances, Bullock is excellent, worthy of her Oscar nomination. Last November, when “Gravity” was originally scheduled to be released, Warner Bros. predicted that Bullock would land another Best Actress honor for her role. Nonetheless, she brings depth and emotion to Stone without it ever feeling forced. Clooney basically plays Clooney in an astronaut suit. His Kowalski is suave, intelligent, full of himself, but also caring and honorable.
“Gravity” is rated PG-13 for some intense action/violence, language, disturbing images, and a whole lot of peril. It’s appropriate for teens and up. Outside of a few twists and the amazing visuals, I can’t say I was “wowed” by it. At no point while watching “Gravity” did I ever think that I was watching the Best Picture of the Year, or even a contender for that honor. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe the story is just too simple. Even so, this is a highly enjoyable film. Very good, but not “Out of this World”.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Gravity” gets a B+.