Alfonso Cuaron is a highly talented filmmaker and one of the most visionary filmmakers working today, Gravity is further proof that Cuaron is a filmmaker of the highest quality. Having looked at the wizarding world (Prisoner of Azkaban) and a dystopian world (Children of Men), Cuaron takes on the final frontier – space. Gravity basis its story on two astronauts whose mission goes horribly wrong after the Russians destroy their own defunct satellite. The debris from the resulting explosion hurtles round the planet eventually hitting the Space Shuttle The Explorer. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) are the only two survivors, with dwindling oxygen levels they must reach safety without any communication with Earth.
It has to be said that Gravity, visually, is out of this world. A visual treat of outstanding proportions presented on an incredible, immaculate scale. It is true that space has been recreated numerous times, but nothing quite as beautiful as what we see in Gravity. The opening, unbroken ten minute plus shot is utterly breathtaking. We watch as the camera floats around whilst the crew members carry out their tasks while in constant contact with Houston (Ed Harris) down below on Earth. Throughout this scene we see Earth; it is a special scene as despite seeing shots of Earth hundreds of times Emmanuel Lubezki brings out staggering beauty of the planet and space itself. Quite simply, space hasn’t been filmed this majestically since 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Gravity is a film made for the big screen, the explosion of debris from the space station in the background is terrifying, but perhaps the most impressive factor about this film is stunning use of 3D. Gravity’s incredible use of 3D is much down to the impressive team Cuaron has working for him (cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and special effects designer Tim Webber efforts on this are most noticeable), and of course Cuaron himself, who utilizes 3D to its full potential. My mind on 3D hasn’t changed, I’d rather see the end of it, but Gravity is a film in which 3D greatly enhances the experience. Gravity is a film that demands to be seen on the big screen, without it the immense size of space is unrealized; the sense that these characters are lost in an endless ever expanding environment is unparalleled on a big screen.
Aside from the staggering visuals, which are very A list, Gravity has some B movie sensibilities. The short running time for instance (91 minutes) is the right length for such as film and the rather corny dialogue adds to this B movie sensibility. The opening 10 minutes are a visual treat, it is quiet, peaceful and it allows the viewer to admire the beauty of the planet and the starry sky above. This tranquility is shattered by a radio message informing the astronauts of the oncoming debris. From there on the tension, G Forces and motion sickness is relentless. Comparisons between Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 have been made because of similar themes (especially in relation of Solaris) of family, birth, rebirth and love (not to the same depth), but Gravity is certainly more of a knuckle biting, tense thrill ride than the two.
The plot is driven by Sandra Bullock’s superb performance in one of the central roles, (Clooney is fine, but he has less to do). Plenty is asked of Bullock and she delivers exceptionalaly well with a performance that is likely to gain an Oscar nod at the very least. Certainly, the movie isn’t flawless, the dialogue is corny, events can get somewhat unbelievable as everything that could happen happens to Ryan Stone (except alien abduction, but even that would be too farfetched), but Gravity is tense, gripping and thrilling. However, most of all Gravity is a visual masterpiece made by a stunning team of true auteurs with an astonishing creative vision. The characters are overwhelmed by the visuals, but that doesn’t take away the film’s beating heart. Gravity is a film made for a big screen, its overall impact on a small screen is yet to be seen, but I have a feeling the impact won’t be quite the same.