‘Gravity’ Movie Review – You Won’t Let Go
Life in space is impossible. Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) scrawls this across the screen during the opening credits of Gravity as a reminder. We’ve all been taught “nothing is impossible,” and the gist of the statement is to never back down, never give up, or never let go. “Don’t let go” is a driving phrase in Gravity (although George Clooney’s character cleverly jokes about needing to let go) and its the basis of a truly one-of-a-kind movie. While visuals still trump story, Gravity is the best of both worlds and allows for a magnificent and extraordinary moviegoing experience.
It truly reminds us why we should see movies on the big screen.
Gravity takes place primarily in space and focuses in on Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney). The third character, if you will, is space. And this character is a complete bitch. The conflict is aided by a space accident that leaves a trail of debris careening at them right in the middle of a vulnerable space walk. With limited time and extremely limited resources, Stone and Kowalski must dodge huge chunks of debris that set off a deadly chain reaction to somehow survive…in zero gravity. Alone. In space.
Cuarón immediately displays space in its beauty and complete vastness. It’s easy to forget just how minuscule we are, and space is the easiest way to bring us back down to Earth (ha ha!). The great part, though, is that Cuarón doesn’t seem to over-flaunt his filmmaking abilities. He doesn’t zoom through space or pull the camera back just to show us for sake. Instead, he keeps the camera honed in on his characters and allows us to see the beauty in the background.
The closest thing we get to manipulation is the score. There was a conscious decision to keep sound (crashes, explosions, and etc.) out of the story just like in space, but there still is an eerie score (performed by Steven Price).
Eerie is the perfect way to describe Gravity. I mentioned space and I mentioned the score, but the visual style and cinematography also come to mind. Not only is it a perfect use of 3D – one we haven’t seen since James Cameron’s Avatar – but it’s a plea to keep movie theaters going. It’s a movie that demands a giant screen.
The audiences flip and tumble with Bullock as she helplessly drifts through space. It’s not sickening either, it’s beautifully terrifying. I don’t think there’s ever been such an immersive film. Before my IMAX 3D showing, one of IMAX’s promotional sayings was “go to a movie or become part of a movie.” In Gravity, you feel like you are truly part of the movie. You sip air with Stone to avoid burning oxygen. You reach and claw for the armrest when she grasps for anything before it’s too late.
Okay, so it’s beautiful and suspenseful. You get it. But what about the story?
Thematically, Gravity is also very impressive. Stone eventually emerges as the main character. It then becomes a daunting tale relating to fear of death and, really, the fear of living. Having been dealt an extremely bad hand on Earth, her will to survive simply isn’t there. But, of course, that’s the transformation we get to see.
We can talk about the vastness of space all we want, but the human consciousness is vast in a similar fashion. This juxtaposition is just one of the many fantastic things going for Gravity. Existentialism and determination are huge internal components to the story with space adding the major hitch (or conflict).
Space is the final frontier. Immortalized by Star Trek, it’s easy to take space for granted. However, it’s one of the most exciting…and terrifying…things left to explore. With such a great unknown, Alfonso Cuarón takes us into space to show us just how volatile the environment is and just how fragile human life can be. Gravity, his aptly titled space thriller, is not so much a sci-fi juggernaut, but more a calculated look at both of these components wrapped in one of the most flawlessly designed and executed films I’ve ever seen. Just when you think moviemaking has hit its limit, someone pushes the envelope. We have Mr. Cuarón and over four years of production to thank for pushing the envelope further.
Gravity is available in wide release now. You can check it out in conventional 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D (my suggestion).
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