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Gravity - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: A-
Acting: A-
Writing: B+
Cinematography: A
Editing: A
Special Effects: A+

Boy, does Alfonso Cuarón know how to make a movie that makes an impression. Children of Men, now seven years old, remains a fine specimen of bravura filmmaking, but it lacked a key element of plausibility. This is not so much the case with Gravity, which is both visually stunning and easy to believe.

Set almost entirely in space, at a space station just above the Earth, the only on-screen characters we see are Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock). Cuarón seems to be going for as much scientific accuracy as possible, but what do I know? I'm no astronaut. That said, some movies are obvious bullshit (say, Prometheus), but in this case, any inaccuracy is not obvious. Thus the tension is magnified when, during a spacewalk with lots of technical jargon that no layman could understand, the spacecraft they are servicing gets bombarded with debris.

The debris if from a chain reaction caused by a Russian anti-sattelite test. Mission Control, voiced by Ed Harris (one of just a few voice roles for characters never seen), warns that this debris is coming at bullet speed. Until this moment, we're just watching these astronauts perform routine tasks, in space, the Earth looming large and gorgeous behind them. There is one other astronaut with them, but he is hit by debris almost immediately; we never actually see his face.

Gravity is so gripping it's almost a relief it's only ninety minutes long -- the perfect length for a movie like this, that leaves your muscles aching because you're holding on to anything around you (your drink glass, the chair) so tightly. Stone is untethered by the first pass of the debris, as equipment around them gets destroyed; a fairly lengthy sequence follows her as she drifts off alone into space, and you actually wonder where they can possibly go from here.

Suffice it to say that's just the beginning. Kowalski calculates that the debris, in its orbit around the Earth, should take roughly ninety minutes. We are witness to its passing around at least two more times, by my count anyway; the second time is even more harrowing, with far more destruction even than before, as Stone narrowly escapes in a capsule she barely manages to break away from the main spacecraft.

This is really Sandra Bullock's movie, and if she doesn't get an Oscar nomination, the Academy is full of jaw-dropping idiots. Not that that would be anything new exactly, but whatever. I'm holding out hope. Not even Clooney gets nearly as much screen time as Bullock, which is just as well because, while charming, his role and performance just don't carry the same weight.

This film is almost entirely special effects, with every seemingly random movement, including all the debris and people (and, occasionally, bodies) ricocheting back and forth, meticulously choreographed. Not once is such deliberateness ever apparent. What James Cameron's Avatar made possible, a movie like Gravity has perfected. And yet, all the effects are in service to the story, which is carried almost entirely by Bullock's astonishing performance. It all comes back to her, and her character's bravery in the face of horrifying circumstances. Rarely is such an incredibly strong female character seen on film.

The dialogue occasionally leaves a little to be desired. More than once there are lines that escape Ryan Stone's lips that sound more like movie-speak than something someone would really say. Whether we really needed the backstory of a young daughter who died is perhaps up for debate. These are very, very minor quibbles, though; they are the only things that keep Gravity from reaching cinematic perfection -- and really, that's only for nitpickers like me. For anyone else, going to the movies for something both fresh and thrilling, it really doesn't get any better.

Sandra Bullock races against time and GRAVITY.

Overall: A
1 comment or Leave a comment
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: January 15th, 2015 08:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like this movie. But it's not the type of movie I'd watch again.
1 comment or Leave a comment