Gravity Review

Posted: October 16, 2013 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

If you had told me on June 4th, 2004, the release date of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as well as the day I first saw that film, that the guy in charge of the movie I was about to see would become one of today’s best working directors, I’m not entirely sure how I would’ve responded.  I would go on to see that film eight more times in the theater before that summer was over, and by then, I would’ve said, “Okay, you may be onto something.”  If you had told me that again just over two years later in January 2007 after I first saw Children of Men, I would’ve said, “He’s proven himself.”  Now, nearly a whole seven years after that masterpiece, Gravity has firmly cemented Alfonso Cuaron as one of the best filmmakers around, no questions asked.  This film is a true achievement in every sense of the word and wholly worth praising the hell out of.

Not much time needs to be spent summarizing the plot, not only because it’s so simple, but also because part of the experience of this film hinges on discovering its twists and turns for yourself.  But here’s what you need to know: the movie takes place in the zero-gravity atmosphere of space, and follows scientist Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), who’s on her first NASA mission to help repair one of the satellites in orbit over planet Earth.  Also on the mission’s crew is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), on his last expedition into space, and who counters Stone’s relative uneasiness with his soothing words of gentleness and experience.  But those words of comfort are no match for the debris from a nearby and recently-destroyed Russian satellite, which decimates the one Stone and Kowalski are working on, sending Stone spinning off into the vast expanse of stars.  The rest of the film follows her struggle to find a way to make it back home, made all the more difficult by the fact that all communication with NASA Mission Control has been severed in the wake of the disaster.

The first thing to note about Gravity is that it’s not really meant to be viewed as a story-driven film.  Its story is there to simply fuel the ideas that Cuaron wants to explore, mainly the triumph of the human spirit.  Gravity is a survival story, no more and no less, but Cuaron handles it so beautifully.  This movie connects on such a purely human level, and that’s how Cuaron is able to get us so wrapped up in this thing.  How much you like this film obviously has to do with how willing you are to accept this sort of approach.  I’m not saying you’re wrong if you find the lack of a deep plot, but let me tell ya, story is usually the first thing I look at when it comes to movies, and yet I was completely absorbed in this film right from the beginning.  The true marvel of Gravity is how Alfonso Cuaron can find such an emotional core in the middle of such a technologically breathtaking experience.

That emotional core is Sandra Bullock’s amazing performance as Ryan Stone.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this got her another Oscar nomination, maybe even her second win, because there’s not one moment in any of these 90 minutes where her acting is inauthentic.  Bullock flawlessly captures the fear and desperation inherent in this situation, and even though the script gives her an almost bare minimum amount of exposition, we still come to root for her quite easily once the shit hits the fan.  Just four months ago, Bullock gave such a grating and uninspired performance in The Heat, but here, it’s almost like it’s two different people.  George Clooney contrasts nicely with Bullock by being the film’s source of humor, but he also captures the calm and quiet resolve a character of his stature needs to display when the chips are down.  Much like Ryan Stone, Matt Kowalski is a character whom you want to see make it out safely.

Of course, with this being an Alfonso Cuaron film, Gravity is visually arresting.  He gets to use his skill at tracking shots to great effect here, providing for cinematography and editing so expertly done, you really don’t notice them as you’re watching.  In fact, this movie is so masterfully shot, Cuaron really does create the illusion that this was shot in space.  Also, Gravity contains the best use of 3-D that I’ve seen in years.  Cuaron makes full use of the zero-gravity atmosphere, and if the cinematography by itself wasn’t already enough to make you feel like you’re right up in space with these astronauts, the 3-D enhances that nearly tenfold.  Another thing I love about Gravity from a technical standpoint is how Steven Price’s oftentimes chilling, sometimes inspiring score pretty much becomes a character in and of itself as the film goes on.  Suffice to say that Alfonso Cuaron has more than earned a Best Director nomination when it’s time for the next Oscars.

Gravity is a film that’s awe-inspiring in its skill and execution.  Much like 2010’s underrated and underseen Buried, it takes a tricky premise and turns it into one hell of a movie.  If ever there was a film that demanded to be seen in the big-screen format, this is it, my friends, and it was well worth the wait.  Mr. Cuaron, it’s good to have you back after all these years.

****/****

Comments
  1. totally agree. it’s a very simple story, but still a beautiful story. not very dialogue heavy, especially since there is really only one person in most the film. a lot of it is inner dialogue.

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