Walking into the theatre, I didn’t know what to expect from Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. I had seen one of the trailers, depicting a breathless space disaster leaving one of the astronauts in a considerable amount of trouble, and I know Alfonso Cuaron’s reputation as an outstanding filmmaker. Children of Men was fantastic, even though most people I talk to haven’t seen it. Well, it seems like I need some new friends, as I’m pretty sure most of them don’t know what Gravity is either… which is a shame, as I can quite confidently say that Gravity is the best film I’ve seen all year.
I assume by now a few minutes have past, and you’ve all booked your cinema tickets. Good, because Gravity needs to be seen in a cinema. I can easily admit to being a bit disillusioned with the cinema this year, with so few films really delivering on what is being promised, with only Pacific Rim standing out in the crowd, which is among the reasons Gravity is such a great film… it needs to be seen in as large a format as possible. I am quite certain that those who are lucky enough to be able to see it in an IMAX theatre are in for a real treat, as it will undoubtedly invoke as much awe as the first few minutes of Blue Planet. If you don’t remember Blue Planet, you definitely are not as ancient as I am.
Gravity is also beautiful in 3D. It really bothers me that so many films are making such great use of 3D this year, since I’ve never been a fan, but once I realised Gravity is almost exclusively an animated film, things started making a lot more sense. No, I’m not talking an animation film, as in Toy Story, but considering that almost the entire film is some of the best CGI I’ve ever encountered, it is quite an accurate description. Gravity is Cuaron’s first film since Children of Men, years ago, and he has spent most of that time planning and perfecting Gravity, with post-production taking over a year to complete. The end result is one of the most visually striking films I’ve seen, and a space thriller that even gets the thumbs up from astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Yes, Gravity is definitely the most visually striking film I’ve seen all year, if not in many years. Alfonso Cuaron once again favours the use of long shots, as he experimented with in Children of Men, with the opening scene being a jaw-dropping, seamless 15 minute space walk that sets the pace for the rest of the film. As mentioned earlier, parts of the film reminded me of the space scenes from Planet Earth, but a stronger comparison can be made with Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey – visually striking enough to invoke emotion.
I already mentioned the exceptional use of 3D and if it is any indication of what will be done with the format in the future, perhaps it will have staying format after all. I highly doubt that most films will be able to use it as effectively, though. It isn’t criticism on other films, but a testament to a perfectionist filmmaker that knows exactly what he’s doing.
With regards to the plot, Gravity is refreshingly simple. The russians, deciding to destroy one of their own satellites with a missile, accidentally causing an ablation cascade, with the resulting space debris from the satellite being flung through space so violently it destroys more objects, causing an expanding cloud of orbiting space death. I would also now like the time to trademark the term “orbiting space death”. This causes big problems for astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) as they are busy with a space walk when the debris hits the fan, destroying their shuttle and leaving them stranded in space with no means to get back to Earth, and very little oxygen.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of both Clooney and Bullock but both manage to be very suited in their respective roles, with Matt Kowalski being a seasoned astronaut on his last space walk and Ryan Stone being a scientist on her first space mission. The first few minutes of the film tells us everything we need to know about the characters. Clooney’s character joyrides around the shuttle making jokes and telling stories, quickly establishing him as a space cowboy and Sandra Bullock’s tight-lipped and serious scientist solely focusing on the task at hand. If I had one complaining with regards to Gravity, it would be unnecessary exposition in moments through the film but it gives the film an unexpected sentimental edge, so it is naturally forgivable.
As I’ve clearly indicated, I loved Gravity. It is an immersive, thrilling space adventure that left me wholly apprehensive as I left the theatre and the majority of film critics seems to be unanimous in its praise. Considering the ratings I’ve given other films in the past, I am easily justified in giving this film the top honours I can and it might be, besides for one or two exceptions, the most confident I’ve been with regards to the stars I’ve given a film all year. I’m dying to know what you all think once you’ve seen it, so let me know!
Last Updated: October 8, 2013