Thank you Alfonso Cuarón for confirming my decision to never become an astronaut.
Gravity, directed by Academy Award nominee Cuarón, stars Oscar winners Bullock and Clooney in, without question, the most anxiety raising and emotionally exhausting film of not only 2013, but the past decade and hurls us like rag dolls into the most terrifying and hopeless place there is, space.
Sandra Bullock, taking a break from playing an FBI agent for once in her career, plays Dr. Ryan Stone, an engineer on her very first shuttle mission, accompanying veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) on his last mission before retirement. From the films opening we’re given a breathtakingly beautiful 15 or so minute single shot of the astronauts on the job paired with amazing sound design that gives us the feel of how they would hear inside their suits, space, after all, is silent. All seems well and fairly routine but when the worst happens and debris from a decommissioned Russian satellite destroys the shuttle they’re working on, both Stone and Kowalsky are left stranded in a seemingly helpless situation.
Now, as spoiler free as I can be, anyone who’s seen a film before in their life can probably tell that their situation is going to go from terrifying to a level of horrifyingly bad that takes giant bounds instead of tiny steps. A quickly diminishing oxygen supply, no communication and being pants shittingly high above the surface of the Earth definitely makes for high adrenaline, and when things go wrong time and time again for Stone and Kowalsky, you’re right there with them holding your breath and clinging to your seat in sheer and utter suspense, it really gives you a feel for the gravity of their situation (see what I did there?)
Not that the film is entirely perfect, I found the story a little cliche when it came to the execution of character roles. I understand Bullock’s character is a rookie and that it’s her first mission, but her lack of professionalism in a situation in which she should have received the appropriate training seemed to me like the perfect excuse to get her into even more trouble and to portray her as the damsel in distress whilst leaving the cool, calm and collected Kowalsky to save the day. At least that’s the feeling you get most of the way through the film, but as it progresses I suppose I have to retract that feeling as Stone proves to be somewhat of a gutsy heroine.
Technically, Gravity is one of the most awe inspiring films of the past decade, the wide shots and the way Clooney and Bullock move whilst tethered to one another through the open void of space leaves you baffled as to how this could have been filmed anywhere else but the real deal rather than in some studio here on Earth, and I’d be shocked if the film didn’t receive a few technical nominations come award season.
Overall I don’t think it’s possible to avoid recommending Gravity, it’s not often that a movie comes along that is so clearly designed for the big screen/surround sound experience and when it comes to 3D, Gravity is a must see.
I’ve definitely got a new found respect for the idea of walking on solid ground.
Gravity is in theaters everywhere now.
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