Short Reviews: Gravity (2013)


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This one’s amazing, folks. It’s also hard to talk about without giving anything away that might ruin its impact. It’s not a movie made of twists or surprises, but go in cold, and you’ll have a better experience.

Gravity is the story of two astronauts adrift in space after their shuttle is destroyed by the stray debris of an exploded satellite (those pesky Russians needed something to test out their missiles on). Literally lost in space, with oxygen running low and their communications with Earth down, the film is a story of survival, not only against the odds, but the overwhelming void of space.

For any claustrophobics or agoraphobics out there, this is a film that will test you. Ditto anyone who, like myself, has a fear of suffocation. It’s harrowing in parts, disorienting in others, and through nearly the entire picture, completely beautiful – a side effect of having the majority of your film set against a captivating backdrop of our planet in all her glory.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are on top form. Bullock carries the lead role of Dr Ryan Stone with grace in the face of understandable peril. Clooney’s trademark smugness is replaced with likeable-cockiness as Kowalsky. The film knows how far to push its scenarios and the beats of its stories, and the characters are worked in well with this also.

This is also a miraculously filmed movie. Clearly, a lot of CGI has had to be employed, but I’ll be damned if I ever thought about that during the runtime. The zero-gravity is 100% convincing, and Alfonso Cuaron’s signature one-shot takes are employed masterfully and without distraction. At one point we track through space on to Stone as she whirls away, eventually closing in on her face, and moving inside her helmet and taking up her vantage point with complete seamlessness – many similarly expert shots follow.

I also appreciated the commitment to representing sound in space, or the lack thereof. Much of the dialogue is spoken through radios, and the sound mixing always sounds as such. The explosions are silent (unlike in the trailers), the chaos is muted, and the only real incidental sounds come from things the characters actually would here. Clearly it’s not 100% no-sound-in-space but it’s at least making the effort. And I can forgive the “visible faces” on a space suit as a necessity of filmmaking.

If there is a downside, and I feel compelled to bring myself back from the edge of complete gushiness, it would be that the film’s symbolism is sometimes a mite heavy-handed, but even then I’m reaching; I felt legitimately moved by the film’s philosophies on life, survival, hope, and the very will to keep on living.

This is a film to see on a big cinema screen – if there was an IMAX nearby, I’d totally be there. The 3D was also very impressive, and I’m normally a nay-sayer to the format.

100% recommended. Go see it now. Pay money for it – it’s completely worth it.

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