Unlike Anything I've Ever Seen or Ever Will
JLFM - wrote on 10/05/13
Years from now, Gravity will be the film that countless directors will credit to being the movie that first opened their eyes to the world of cinema. You may have seen movies about space, and you may have seen movies about astronauts, but you have NOT seen a movie like this. Gravity is unlike any other movie I've ever seen, and unlike any movie I ever will see. Perhaps it is unwise to say so, but I'll say it anyway; stop reading this review this very second. Go see Gravity while it's still in theaters, and see it in 3D. The less you know about Gravity before you go in, the better. This is an experience, and I would not suggest risking it to be hampered by knowing too much about it.
The crew of the Explorer is finishing up on their space mission, preparing to go home. Our female protagonist, Dr. Ryan Stone is especially happy to be home, as she has found space to be decidedly unagreeable. And yet, everything goes wrong as debris from a Russian satellite accident begins to rain upon the group, and the result is disastrous. Dr. Stone is stranded, floating around in space, only accompanied by space veteran Matt Koawlski, as the two struggle to survive in the unknown that is outer space. Still, while Matt Koawalski is an important and memorable aspect of the film, this is Dr. Stone's story, and it is her that we invest in.
Gravity is an experience like no other. This film takes you on a journey, a struggle of life and death, and it doesn't let go until the credits start rolling. For some, it may even be long after that. Like I stated in my introduction, there's not a doubt in my mind that many, many future filmmakers have just made their first step into the world of movies by watching Gravity.
But what specifically makes Gravity such a fantastic film, worthy of the praise that has been showered upon it? Well, just about anyone you ask that has seen this film will immediately point out the visuals, and they are stunning. Every frame of this film is gorgeous, and any given shot could have been used as a movie poster with zero editing to the picture itself.
The cinematography is gorgeous, and often awe inspiring. And the way Gravity is filmed is also very unique, as there are very few "takes" in this film. The first half hour of Gravity almost appears to be one long, fluid shot. The visuals are jaw-dropping at times, and I began to wonder how some of these shots were filmed. All of this is enhanced by 3D. Indeed, even the most malicious of anti-3D spokespeople would have to admit that the use of said technology in this film is masterful to say the least. And yet, Gravity is so much more than just pretty pictures.
There is a story behind those images. You notice that I mentioned that I was curious as to how portions of this film was shot (and these shots will likely inspire future directors and cinematographers), but Gravity doesn't give anyone the time to think about the technical aspects of the film for long. The story, while simplistic on the surface, is gripping and involving. If Gravity doesn't grab you, you're probably dead or lying. Check your pulse; it may have stopped.
Throughout Gravity, I was alternating between sitting on the edge of my seat, and holding back tears (and occasionally reminding myself to breathe). The moments of intense action and impossibly stressful situations are done to perfection, but Gravity doesn't forget to give us a reason to fight for Dr. Stone.
Dr. Stone seems like a bit of a party-pooper at first. But it doesn't take long for us to invest in this character. We learn bits of her back story, and we feel her struggle. The emotional aspect of this film was done so well. There were several times in this film where I had a lump in my throat, and I was holding back tears (often unsuccessfully). Thank goodness I could hide behind those 3D glasses.
Sandra Bullock delivers a stellar performance (if you'll pardon the pun). Bullock makes you fight for this character (and I often found myself quietly cheering her on in my seat). There are scenes that, on paper, shouldn't work, but Bullock makes them work. In fact, she makes them shine. And then there's George Clooney as Matt Kowalski, who seems to be getting the cold shoulder in many reviews as the guy who's just "there." But for me, Clooney's performance almost matches Bullock's. He's a character you love and grow attached to. He delivers the emotion when he needs to, and as he assures Bullock's character that everything will be alright, he adopts a warm, fatherly persona like few others can truly accomplish.
The score, composed by Steven Price, is perhaps a touch electronic for my tastes. But that doesn't mean it doesn't work. On the contrary, I can't imagine any other score in place of the one used for Gravity. It's intense at times, and at others, emotionally satisfying. The music has problems, but it really does improve and enhance the film, and as long as a score does that, I'm happy.
Gravity is an unforgettable experience. It's an intense, roller-coaster of a film that delivers the thrills, but doesn't forget that heart and strong characters are essential to make this kind of film work. Mix in flawless visuals, pitch-perfect acting, and many tear-jerking scenes, and you've got yourself one of the greatest space movies ever made. Gravity is going to inspire audiences and filmmakers for years and years to come, and perhaps attribute a few grey hairs as well.