Friday, October 4, 2013

Terrific Bullock, Clooney headline superb space adventure ‘Gravity’

By Steve Crum

The superbly produced Gravity begins afloat in space with astronauts chitchatting via compression helmets during a routine checkup outside their space shuttle. It is all breezy and mundane until a sudden debris shower devours their craft, leaving two of its inhabitants, played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, fighting for their lives. The only backstory we get about them and their mission is sparse. Increasingly, the audience learns enough about these two survivors to be hooked on their desperate journey.

Director and co-screenwriter Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) has created a sci-fi instant classic that achieves maximum audience involvement by intensifying sound and visuals as well as using omniscient camera shots. We see Ryan Stone’s (Bullock) point of view from within her helmet, looking out the visor. It is a technique only used a couple of times, but it effectively adds to our feeling of Stone’s terror. As well, 3D imagery has the audience literally ducking and swerving. Add directional sound and the use of dead silence, and one's sensory feelings pretty much max out. 

Within the first 15 minutes of Gravity, I was totally pulled into the plot, along side the two castaways, as they gasped for oxygen while in free float. There are so many hold-your-breath moments, at times it felt like an upscale, interactive amusement park ride. Accolades to Steven Price’s unobtrusive yet emotional score that really enhances the film’s effectiveness. 

There is, of course, much more than sound and visual superlatives to Gravity. Alfonso Cuarón and his son, Jonás, have penned a fantastic yet credible story of courage, friendship, and survival. Even the title, Gravity, is appropriate in its dual simplicity. Its physics aspect refers to an object drawn to the center of a body, while the other meaning involves plot tone, the element of grave consequence. 

Veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) is on his final space venture, while Bullock’s Dr. Ryan Stone, a science officer, is a rookie. After all hell breaks loose at space station central, the two slowly churn through space, tethered together. (There are even more harrowing moments before their bonding.)  Communications with Mission Control in Houston are nil, but Kowalski has a plan. Avoiding plot spoiler data, I will say their trek is fraught with tragedy as well as humor. For example, Kowalski does his best to keep Stone in good spirits through endless quips and funny stories--and all this on limited oxygen.

While Clooney is very good as the sage astronaut, Bullock is the real focus here, in an Oscar worthy turn as the novice space explorer. Of the 90 minutes running time, Bullock solidly holds solo for at least 30 minutes. It is a credit to both her and the director. There are so many memorable moments throughout, including an awesome finale. Pure genius. 

That is the gravity of the situation, dear reader, and the situation of Gravity.  

Gravity is a perfect movie. Seeing it in IMAX-3D is perfection plus.  
GRADE on a Scale of A to F: A
This trailer gives you good idea of what happens in Gravity:

No comments:

Post a Comment