First, I want to point out how astounding it is that Alfonso Cuaron hasn’t been channeled for other high-caliber movies. His only films that I recognize are the best Harry Potter film and the underground classic, Children of Men.
My hope is that the critical and financial success of Gravity will propel him to new projects that are in the spotlight, because what he’s done with this film about two astronauts adrift in space is quite breathtaking.
Sandra Bullock stars as a medical engineer whose prototype has been selected for a satellite mission. While repairing her invention, she and the other astronauts led by Matt (George Clooney) are bombarded by the debris of a destroyed satellite.
This begins a simple, but gripping survival story that literally spans the entire world. Early in the movie, Dr. Stone (Bullock) is separated from the others after the accident, and she is sent drifting alone in orbit with almost no oxygen.
One of the most chilling scenes of the movie, the entire sequence is a work of art, channeling a type of isolation that I felt completely immersed in as I watched the character spinning out of control with the Earth reflecting in the visor.
The character drama is superb, despite the leads being on their own for most of the movie. Dr. Stone is accompanied by veteran astronaut, Matt, who is the confident chatterbox who coaches the crew to finding a solution to their unusual predicament. His fast talking and apt for dialogue could have only been captured by Clooney, and his natural chemistry and dialogue lent us some much needed moments of levity.
What works for the narrative is its ability to present tense set pieces that manage to be their own unique section, despite the source material Cuaron is working with. One minute, Stone and Matt are blissfully drifting through the ether, the next minute Stone is fighting a zero-gravity fire aboard a space station and so on.
It’s difficult for me to explain anymore plot details without delving into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say that the pacing and story were on point, carrying me through an impossible series of events that kept me thoroughly entertained and incredibly interested.
Bullock truly shines, however, with her moments of intense brilliance being depicted perfectly on-screen. This is truly the best performance I’ve seen all year, even counting Zero Dark Thirty. But what really sells the movie to audiences at large is the delivery of the best special effects I’ve seen since Avatar. The level of detail put into every frame is excellent, especially when consider the work put into displaying such a vivid image of Earth throughout.
The logic of the movie is sound, with major moments coming across as believable in addition to being absurd. My favorite moments of the film actually came down to how the Earth is portrayed to correspond with the tone of each section of the film. When Dr. Stone is lost and adrift through space, we see a dark and lonely side of Earth. A sunrise comes over the horizon as the characters experience hope, a sunset is noted when a character dies and a storm is watched as hope becomes fleeting.
The most haunting depiction, however, is the view of the Northern Lights.
When it comes down to it, I love a movie that makes me feel like the director is trying to lead me somewhere, and Alfonso Cuaron accomplishes this in spades.
Is it Worth Watching? This is an experience to be had in a movie theater, especially IMAX if you can. If there was ever a movie that demanded the big screen, it is this one due to its scope and detail. I honestly can’t imagine watching it anywhere else.
As for 3D, I actually watched the movie in both formats and preferred the normal 2D. 3D made the Earth look blurrier, though the effects they used to pop off the screen almost made up for this. Still, I ultimately favored the crispness of the normal viewing.
I recommend this movie to anyone who absolutely loves movies themselves and isn’t prone to motion sickness. The first 30 minutes might make you feel a bit uneasy, but I found myself adjusting quickly and not having a problem for the most part (especially since the film is only an hour and a half long).
That said, I hope you enjoy the film. It really is one hell of a ride.
-Jon Negroni is the author of the Pixar Theory and other movie-related conspiracies. For more of his odd opinions you might care about, check out jonnegroni.com or follow him on Twitter @JonNegroni