Movie Review: GRAVITY (2013)
There have been many films made where one actor and their character rule the majority of the runtime simply because the story calls for it. Some better known examples would be Tom Hanks’ CASTAWAY, or the most recent Robert Redford’s ALL IS LOST. Given that Space is often compared to being a vast sea of darkness and silence, GRAVITY does something similar, while innovating some key elements for a whole new generation.
Blank Page Rating: 3.5 out of 5 ‘Stars’
GRAVITY is a simple story about a rookie astronaut, stranded in space, having to find her way back to Earth, somehow. That’s really all there is to it. But like most of these stories, her journey is what is really worth watching. During a routine mission with an experienced astronaut played by George Clooney, Ryan Stone finds herself stranded in space, without any means of returning back to Earth after a meteor destroys her ship, crew and any means of communication with the people below. Not being a career astronaut, but rather an engineer sent up for a specific mission due to her expertise, Stone is at a loss of how to save herself. It’s a very short film, clocking in at only 91 minutes, but it’s how the story unfolds that keeps one on the edge of their seat.
The specialty of GRAVITY, more so than it’s story is how it is thoroughly complimented with the overwhelming visual effects that give depth and emotional personification to a person’s worst fears. Director Alfonso Cuaron and Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki blow minds with their unique shots and never before seen camera movement that puts the audience right next to the character like never before. 360-degree pans with the character spinning the other way, only to have both camera and character sync up into an extreme close up, is as disorienting as it is innovative. Close ups that that weave in and out through solid objects, changing perspective and audio accordingly is just mind boggling to the senses and technically genius. The imaginative camera work and not to mention surrealistic environments, make GRAVITY an almost interactive film, complimenting the sense of disorientation that the character herself must feel during the movie. The film is shot almost from the point of view of the main character herself, seeing how the camera movement is dictated by the character’s own awareness of her surroundings.
GRAVITY works on an emotional level, as the effects and Bullock’s performance really sell the utter desperation and loss of control that one must feel floating in space with no hope of rescue, and the metaphor that serves for Stone’s own history. Sandra Bullock comes in with another amazing role that is never overly melodramatic, but still emotional enough for an audience to go on this journey with her. Clooney in a brief appearance is his own charming self, never really contributing anything to the plot, nor is he meant to. It’s Bullock all the way as she emotes, monologues and gasps her way through this ordeal. The imagery and special effects again, are breathtakingly intense, and is really what distinguishes GRAVITY from other ‘stranded’ movies. Unlike other films that rely heavily on the CGI and special effects and less on story, GRAVITY would not have been possible if it wasn’t for all the technical elements of the film coming together to create the immense blackness that is space, and using it to invoke a sense of awe as well as fear, seamlessly within the audience and the main character.