Film Review “Gravity”

gravity-posterStarring: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 30 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Silence.

Remember the poster for “Alien?” “In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream,” it proudly proclaimed. Very true. The world is silent. Unless you’re Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), who can’t help but here the incessant chatter of her companion on her space walk, veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney). The two of them are floating hundreds of thousands of miles above the earth, tethered to a shuttle. While Stone works diligently on a project Kowalski zooms around her with his jet pack, filling her helmet with stories about his ex-wife and visiting the Mardi Gras. Things go well until the receive a message telling them that a Russian satellite has been destroyed and now the debris is heading towards them. Stone wants to scream. Too bad no one will hear her?

Amazingly filmed (the entire film takes place in zero gravity), “Gravity” is a technical masterpiece. It is quite possibly the greatest visual knockout since the first star destroyer flew over the audience in “Star Wars.” The story in a (space) capsule: when their shuttle is damaged by debris Stone and Kowalski must find their way through space in order to find a place safe to seek refuge. However not only is there no sound in space, there is no gravity and soon Stone finds herself floating aimlessly in the darkness with only the sound of her breathing in her ears.

The story can best be described as “Cast Away” in space. And like that Tom Hanks starrer, “Gravity” is pretty much a one person show. But there’s a lot more to see than just one person against the vacuum of space, including a stunning performance by Bullock. With only her training and the sometimes soothing voice of Mission Control (played, with a wink to fans of “Apollo 13,” by Ed Harris), Stone is literally the last person in the world. Bullock manages to capture all of the emotions necessary and project them on to the audience. It’s a performance of sheer brilliance which should bring her Academy Award nomination number two!

On the other side of the spectrum, things in space can get very monotonous. Traveling from one shelter to another or quickly taking a crash course to maneuver repeatedly can make ninety minutes seem much longer. Even the outstanding special effects (as she cries to herself Stone’s tears literally “fall” off of her face and float softly around her) can’t keep the film continuingly moving. It is a credit to director Cuaron that the audience puts themselves in Bullock’s place, if even for a moment. Script-wise there are a few holes, including how someone with such a short training period can learn to not only read but understand Russian technology, but the more you give yourself to the visual aspect of the film the better off you’ll enjoy it.

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