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Gravity

Gravity Poster.jpgAlfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is the most gigantic leap in visual effects with regards to space exploration probably since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The comparisons are impossible to miss, and Gravity is as much an ode to what I consider the greatest film of all time, as it is its own remarkable film.

In essence the tale of Gravity is quite simple.  We follow Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) on a space mission that goes extremely awry.  We are thrust in the middle of their lives as they fight for survival.  This fight, and Cuaron’s vision and execution, are what make Gravity an amazing experience.

Stone and Kowalski are sent to service the Hubble telescope, meanwhile a neighboring Russian satellite is destroyed during a missile strike.  This causes debris from the destroyed satellite to be hurled in their direction and their mission to be aborted.  The debris will cause more damage than they can handle, and Stone and Kowalski are left to find a way to avoid the debris and find safe shelter.  They go through a number of intense and claustrophobic experiences during this process that will keep you glued to your seat.  It’s a very simple premise and keeping it simple is what allows the experience of Gravity to really shine through.

Gravity pays homage to 2001 numerous times throughout the film (Dr. Stone floating into a womb like position, the floating pen in numerous scenes [the first floating object in 2001], etc.)  The film however I believe does the opposite of what 2001 intended.  In that regard they are completely different.  2001 was more about the evolution of man and absence of god.  Gravity I believe is more about the perceived absence of god and the hand that fate deals to us all.

Dr. Stone does not believe in a higher power. She has had tragedy in her life, and experienced loss in the most meaningless fashion.  If god exists he wouldn’t let terrible things happen to good people.  Dr. Stone’s experience out there, mostly left alone, will transform her belief system, or at least challenge it.

I’ve heard some complaints regarding the realism portrayed in the film, as if the things that occur are not “real” enough.  I’m not an astronaut first of all, but the film feels like the most realistic portrayal of what it would be like to be one that I have ever seen. Second of all I believe there comes a turning point when the film shifts out of realism into a hyper-stylized realism based on Dr. Stone’s state at the time and shifting change within her belief system.  There becomes a guiding force in the film that did not exist prior.  Lastly….it’s still a film.  This isn’t a documentary.

To this day I’m still not a big fan of Sandra Bullock, but she does a great job here.  There are only a few times that I felt a little bit put off by her performance, and that was really the fault of some of the dialogue she was forced to work with, as opposed to her actual acting abilities.  Clooney is the same Clooney as always…he’s the man.

For the record I am still not a big fan of 3-D, but Gravity attempts to make its case for the limiting format here.  I highly recommend going to see the film at an iMax theater for the total experience.

Gravity is an amazing experience of a film, and ground-breaking as far as visual effects and having the ability to place the viewer in the world that these characters live in.  Cuaron now shows he is truly one of the great filmmakers of our time.  What will be very interesting is to take a look at how Gravity stacks up to Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated Interstellar next year.

Grade: A