gravity

Gravity, Space Porn With a Story

Post by Billy Russell

It’s sort of a shame that the tagline, “In space no one can hear you scream” has already been taken by 1979’s Alien because that perfectly encapsulates the terror present in Gravity, the new movie by Alfonso Cuarón, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The muted, soundless destruction that leaves our hero stranded in outer space, without communication to the world so close, yet so far away from her, is a fear I could never rationalize in actual, human words. It’s so scary, the idea of being adrift in that dark void outside of our planet, that the best way I can define it would be, “Ahhhhh!!!!”

Of course, the pull of Earth’s gravity is enough to keep Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) circulating in orbit so that she won’t be lost on her way to the sun. Instead, the planet is tantalizingly close beneath her, looming large and beautiful. It’s almost close enough to touch. The idea of being a part of that world again is so tangible. But, to reiterate the cliché, it’s so far away.

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What follows and comprises the action is elegant set piece after elegant set piece, with Dr. Stone just trying to make it back home. Low on oxygen and with deadly space debris orbiting the planet every 90 minutes, time is decidedly not on her side. This is one of those “Hold Your Breath” movies, when you can hear choked breaths coming out of your mouth once the coast looks semi clear for your heroes and then you hiss inward when the next bad thing to happen to them rears its head.

This is Cuarón’s first feature film since 2006’s Children of Men, a gorgeous and bleak sci-fi movie. In that movie, he had three phenomenal sequences all done in one unbroken, seemingly single take. In Gravity, he outdoes himself in what is now going to be a landmark sequence. The opening shot lasts 17 minutes and introduces us to the conflict, the disaster and does it masterfully. The opening to Gravity is going to be compared alongside other fantastic opening sequences such as the D-Day sequence in Saving Private Ryan, the space credit crawl and skirmish in the first Star Wars and the crane shot, steadicam sequence introducing us to Boogie Nights.

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Generally speaking, I think 3D is a complete gimmick. Not everything requires that treatment. A concert video for a boy band probably doesn’t need that added production cost—then again, I’m not a 13 year old girl, so maybe it does. Gravity, though is designed to be seen that way and it was one of the most immersive cinematic experiences I’ve ever been a part of. It’s a movie meant to be experienced. If you’re wondering whether or not you should shill out some extra dough to see it in IMAX, I’m gonna tell you that yeah, you should. This is a movie to get lost in. This is a movie that invites you into the void and wants you to feel it as few other films have even attempted.

Gravity is not without its faults. Some of the resolutions to problems seem to happen by luck as opposed to organic scriptwriting and some of the character developments and reveals seemed very much contrived. Like any movie, there’s some undeniable cheese sprinkled on top. These are only minor, minor quibbles from me because the movie is so exciting and beautiful and expertly crafted, I was able to successfully suspend my disbelief enough to where I didn’t bother wondering too much about what was feasible and what wasn’t. This is a movie that’s meant to be exciting and if you allow it to be, it will be. It’s one of the most beautifully lensed movies ever created and I’m glad Hollywood actually took a chance on it instead of writing it off as a stuffy old movie about two people, like My Dinner With Andre meets Armageddon (or Open Water in space). Sandra Bullock’s performance in this movie is a total winner and it’s endlessly enjoyable.

UPDATE: Gravity made our Best Scifi Movies of 2013 list!

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  1. […] is one of the best space movies (meaning movies simply about the logistics of real human space travel) of all time, perhaps only […]



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