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Movie Review: Gravity (2013)

(The Verge) – Space is one of the greatest and one of the worst environments you could probably be in. It is simultaneously a beautiful and amazing sight to behold, while also being incredibly terrifying. Only a handful of humans have actually had the pleasure (or displeasure) to travel to this incredible place in our universe, yet we all share a common fear of something horrible happening there with very few people being able to help. This fear manifests itself in one of the best films of the year, and just like how Jaws made people afraid to go back into the water 35 years ago, Gravity will most likely eliminate any previous desire to travel to outer space.
Directed by Alfanso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Gravity is a space thriller where the enemy is not an alien or a hostile planet, but space itself. It creates an atmosphere that immerses the viewer into that terrifying environment, and gives them almost no moments of respite. Combined with a strong lead performance and a haunting score, Gravity is an experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
The film opens with a long tracking shot of Earth, reminding us that our home seems so close, yet so far away. Eventually, the Hubble Telescope comes into view, where we meet a team of astronauts performing routine maintenance. One of the astronauts, bio-medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), is on her first mission, and expresses her (natural) anxiety of being in space for the first time to her veteran teammate Matt Kowlaski (George Clooney). As it turns out, her fears becomes valid when debris from a Russian satellite collides with their space shuttle, sending Stone drifting into the endless void of space (hang on for a moment of queasiness).
To describe the plot any further would be a disservice, since the film benefits from having as little knowledge about it as possible going in. What you should know is that for a movie that is primarily a thriller, there are still moments of character development and uses of metaphors that convey a powerful human story, despite the incredibly small cast. Sandra Bullock does an amazing job acting as a strong, yet relatable character, making you almost forget the Miss Congeniality movies exist. Watching her take on every new challenge that arises is exciting to watch, while still creating an uncomfortable amount of tension.

Image taken from: comicbook.com.
Image taken from: comicbook.com.

The only other major character is George Clooney, who may as well be playing himself. Clooney provides a cool and collected attitude to an otherwise unnerving film, creating a mild sense of comfort for the audience. In fact, Clooney seems almost too calm throughout the whole experience, even for a veteran astronaut. This results in the character feeling almost cartoonish at times, detracting from the otherwise believable atmosphere. While Clooney is a master of being charming whenever possible, it would have been nice to see him jumpy for just a bit.
While the human interactions are all well done, Gravity’s main draw is its ability to build an ungodly level of tension. Everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong, and it is all happening in arguably the worst environment to be in during something like this. Even when everything seems like it is going to be okay, a new obstacle arrives to take the previous one’s place. This pattern continues even throughout the final moments of the film, making Gravity a non-stop thriller that will definitely leave you with sweaty palms.
Part of what makes this film just a thrilling experience is the cinematography. Every shot is meant to convey the chilling nature of being in space, as well as how dangerous the current situation is. There are also some beautiful shots of Earth in the distance, many of which are desktop wallpaper worthy. Gravity is also one of the few films that almost requires to be seen in 3D-IMAX, with the extra depth giving objects and characters an added dimension to the space they are occupying.
Image taken from: i0.wp.com.
Image taken from: i0.wp.com.

The cinematography is also complimented by the amazing sound design. The booming score during the film’s most intense moments compliment each scene wonderfully without feeling overbearing. In addition, there are several instances where there is little to no sound, making those scenes even more powerful. One of the best examples of this is when things blow apart or are hit by debris, the objects do not make a sound, which is accurate due to the lack of sound in space. Of course, this film is not a 100% scientifically accurate depiction of what would actually happen if the events of this movie were real. Still, the overall quality of the movie is enough to make the viewer suspend their disbelief.
In a time where movie theaters are flooded with sequels, remakes, and adaptations, it is refreshing to see an original idea be of this level of quality. Gravity contains enough thrills and human elements to entertain even the most cynical of moviegoers. If you have the means, watch this film in 3D-IMAX, and you will be reminded why going to the movie theater can still be a worthwhile experience.

One Reply to “Movie Review: Gravity (2013)

  1. Great review Tyler. Didn’t quite love it like everybody else, however, I will give it credit for its overall tense look and feel.

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