Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Director Alfonso Cuaron creates out-of-this-world excitement with “Gravity,” the breathtaking sci-fi epic nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. If you haven’t seen it, you probably think Sandra Bullock spirals around in space for the full 90 minutes. You’d be terribly wrong.
Disaster strikes when a space explosion sends metallic debris hurtling through space toward a space station where Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsi (George Clooney) are making external repairs. When the debris hits and Stone disconnects from the body of the station, she’s sent flying helplessly into the depths of space…but Kowalski won’t let his partner go so easily. What follows is a suffocating thriller that’ll leave you physically affected.
A 20-minute real-time disaster sequence sets the stage for the most visually appealing film of the year. The visual effects deserve lifetime achievement awards, not just yearly accolades. Something so powerful it puts you in space deserves all the credit it can get. So much went into these technical achievements (as shown by the extensive Blu-ray special features) that it seems impossible to award the several technical Oscars it was nominated for to anyone else. A pulsing, Oscar-nominated score is, as Cuaron puts it, “a psychological projection of the characters’ emotions.” It’s the only thing that could make this thriller more intense than the visuals themselves.
For the love of humanity! No, really. A screenplay from Cuaron and his son Jonas gives these astronomical characters human characteristics. Their backstories might be pedestrian, but these superstars appear human after their dialogue sets the scene. It builds empathy – when Stone runs low on oxygen, so do you. The script isn’t incredible, but it’s full of hope and inspiration and, thankfully, scientific explanation.
Sandy is virtuosic, convincing audiences of her fear even when she’s in a comfortable studio surrounded by green screens. Nobody could have singlehandedly carried this film like she does. She might just deserve Best Actress (sorry, Cate Blanchett). And Clooney is in superstar mode as the womanizing science stud – so Hollywood, yet so human.
A film like “Gravity” is one I expected to wear out its welcome, get old, dragggg a little bit. But after 90 minutes, I was left wanting more. Stone is in immediate peril almost the whole time, just the way we like it. And when she’s not, we see her reflecting, thinking, or just floating – it’s never for more than a few minutes, and we stay captivated regardless. “Gravity” is also rich with symbolism, but as an art film it remains accessible to the masses. It’s the best of both worlds, exciting and artistic. No movie made my heart thump in my chest faster than “Gravity,” but it is also far more lyrical than anything I saw last year – even without a tremendous script, “Gravity” is a work of poetic genius. The “rebirth” scene is incredibly moving, showing how unafraid “Gravity” is to be artful…but its tremendous box office success (it was the 6th highest-grossing film of 2013, and the only one in the top 13 that’s neither a sequel nor rooted in a literary work) proves that audiences loved it all the same!
Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fi adventure is a powerful and unforgettable picture of space terror, given unprecedented humanity by Sandra Bullock. It moves you in ways you’ll never expect.