Alonso Cuarón directs George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in the space adventure Gravity. Set at 200 km above the surface of the earth Gravity tells the harrowing tale of a crew of spaceship out on a regular mission that gets hit with the debris from a Russian satellite and the horrors that ensue in Zero Gravity.
Gravity has been hailed as the visual masterpiece and the movie event of the year – believe the hype. From the opening shot till the final closing one not one frame lets you take your eye off the screen. The scenes of the vast open blackness of space interspersed with stars and other celestial bodies make you realize how tiny we are in the grand scheme of things and at the same time the minute you are on terra-firma the tracking shot shows us what a giant we are when it comes to our existence on earth.
The story is simple – George Clooney plays Matt Kowalski a veteran astronaut on his final mission is joined by the first timer Ryan Stone played by Sandra Bullock. While trying to place the scientific experiment that Dr Stone has been working on in to an orbiting satellite they get news that there is debris from a destroyed satellite headed their way. While they try to abandon their mission and return to safety they get hit by the debris and are set adrift with no communication back to the command center or the international space station. Left with only each other they try to survive in space with depleting oxygen and try and get to a escape pod to return to earth. Without going into too much details the story is simple as they try against staggering odds to return to earth they get hit by one problem after another and the single shot camerawork draws you into their plight as you stop breathing while they are trying to reach out and grab hold on to a space craft and heave a sigh of relief when they do while getting increasingly frustrated as another crisis looms right ahead.
Sandra bullock in my opinion has never been better. As the harrowed first timer in space who kept crashing her simulator you feel for her and want to her to make safe passage to earth as it begins to appear that the chances are fast diminishing. George Clooney has a small role to play but he does it like no one else does. There is a certain ease with which he plays every character on screen that no matter what the stakes you are sure he will make it out smiling that smug smile.
But this is a movie that is so much bigger than the big name stars involved. This is a movie which is dead certain to bring Emmanuel Lubezki his first Oscar for his magnificent work behind the camera. Lubezki has been credited with one of the most remarkable scenes ever filmed- the creation of life scene from The Tree of Life for Terrence Mallick. Here he essentially takes the viewer into outer space and spins you around like a sock in a tumble dry washing machine while still allowing you to marvel at the beauty of our planet as viewed from outer space. There are beautiful solitaire sunrises and pulsating Aurelia Borealis. A majority of the visuals are computer generated yet never once do you feel like you are not seeing the real thing. Also essential to the visual experience is the surprisingly effective music by a relative no-namer Stephen Price – however the use of silence is just as effective as is some of the other soaring soundtrack by Price.
There are those who are questioning the veracity of science involved in the making of Gravity and while doing so are missing the point that there are elements that have been exaggerated for dramatic appeal. What lies underneath is the essential human instinct for survival, survival against the greatest odds, odds that sometimes are the demons inside our own mind. Not giving up when there is nothing left to live for and trying with all your might to live to tell your story.
Don’t miss Gravity as it is a masterpiece of why we watch movies – it is to go where few men have ever gone before to be able to experience it for yourself without having to leave the comfort of your plush push-back chairs. Seek out the biggest screen possible and watch it in 3D but put the pop-corn away because when you are not looking there is satellite debris coming your way and you better watch out.