Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Starring George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
Review by Jordan
Allow me to start this review with a big, bold, but ultimately unquestionable statement: Gravity is one of, if not the most, visually stunning films ever made. Written, edited, produced and directed by Children of Men visionary Alfonso Cuarón, it astonishes the senses with a captivating blend of mind-melting imagery and heart-pounding audio; placing the viewer through masterful use of 3D into the point of view of Mission Specialist Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), as she tries to take hold of life whilst drifting away from all traces of it.
This is dazzling filmmaking and a journey you can’t afford to miss. However, whilst it is impossible to fault it on a production level (seriously, nor would you even think to fault it), there is one area in which it is unfortunately left wanting: lasting emotional connection.
I don’t argue that we needed more time to gain empathy for our heroes, I argue that there could have been more done in the time already allocated. One particular scene (which I believe will gain notoriety for all the wrong reasons) strives for the viewer to connect emotionally with Stone, but it backfires and actually creates a harsher separation, ultimately rendering the film’s ending less satisfying than it should have been. This is obviously not Gravity’s forte, and if an emotional centre had been successfully established then I would defy anyone to say a bad word about it, but as it stands I was left feeling a little cold when in order for it to be the perfect cinema experience I needed a little more warmth.
The plot is simple but utterly original. Two astronauts: the experienced, confident Matt Kowalski (George Clooney, as smooth as always) and rookie medical expert Stone (Bullock) become separated from their shuttle after the debris of a destroyed Russian satellite causes a chain-reaction of chaos in their orbit, and with oxygen rapidly running-out, communications down and another wave of debris only 90 minutes away, they strive for survival and ultimately to return home.
Despite its setting and the synopsis just mentioned, Gravity is not a science-fiction film. It is a taut thriller that shares more in common with Chris Kentis’ terrifying shark nightmare Open Water (2003) than it does Apollo 13 or Alien; a taut journey with a view to die for, albeit with the flaw previously mentioned. It’s possible that another way to trigger a deeper connection would’ve been to add more Clooney and subtract a portion of Bullock – Speed (1994) introduced her as an American sweetheart, but she is seriously limited in her dramatic range where Clooney can effortlessly succeed and this irrevocably affects the 3rd potion of the film. Ultimately though? Even if the story featured Ewoks and starred Gary Busey it would still demand a trip to the cinema (actually, maybe even more so in that case…), as the visual effects, cinematography and directing really are out of this world.
Cuarón’s passion project is a film impossible to dislike, and if you don’t catch it in 3D at the cinema then don’t worry about kicking yourself, I’ll kick you for you.
4 “woof woofs” out of 5