Movie Review: “Gravity”

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Technically dazzling and emotionally gripping, “Gravity” is a space-age science fiction thriller grounded in something pretty close to reality.
A space shuttle/space junk accident picture, Alfonso Cuaron’s movie gives us Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, space-walkers whose ship is wrecked forcing them to face the ultimate human fear.
No one wants to die alone.
Filmed in a stunning “How’d they DO that?” weightlessness and the chilly silence of space, we meet chatty Matt Kowalsky, testing a new jet pack, and Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), who is wrenching away on the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s a routine spacewalk, with a barely-glimpsed third astronaut outside the shuttle “Explorer (NASA typically didn’t allow three space walkers out). Just another day of work for STS 157, with Kowalsky cracking jokes and telling stories.
“Houston, I have a really bad feeling about this mission.”
Mission Control (the unseen Ed Harris) indulges him.
Then, ten minutes in, word of a Russian satellite destruction exercise that’s gone awry. A cloud of deadly debris is racing for them. And before they can get inside the ship and get away, it is trashed, their third spacewalker is killed and they’re stranded, with mere minutes of oxygen in Dr. Stone’s suit standing between her and an even quicker death than the one facing them both.
Clooney’s soothing voice is used to wonderful effect as he calms the space-rookie down. His Kowalsky is Mr. “Right Stuff,” coming up with a plan (jetting over to the International Space Station, which had to be abandoned because of the coming debris assault) and making Stone tell him chunks of her life story to still her panic.
Oxygen? “Sip, not gulp. Remember, wine, not beer.”
The movie plays out in something like real time as they have 90 minutes before the next space junk pass to get to safety. But everything, and I do mean everything stands, stands in  their way — save for “Aliens” and “Predators.”
Bullock’s Dr. Stone speaks for all of us as she deals with each fresh horror with a “What now?” She does some of her best acting in years, and is well-cast as someone vulnerable, overmatched but with a backbone that surprises.
Cuaron, who did “Children of Men” and the best Harry Potter movie (“Prisoner of Azkaban”) uses the silence of space brilliantly — muffled, distant radio transmissions, shockingly violent, but silent crashes, with only the sound of panting and faint yelping (in Bullock’s case) from our intrepid space explorers underscoring the disaster. They’re hurled, yanked and thumped, and all we hear is their gasping, their crackling radios and a thunk if they hit compartment of a space ship that has oxygen in it.
The parade of accidents takes “Gravity” close to the realm of melodrama, and the physics of it all isn’t flawless. But you’d have to go back to “Apollo 13″ and such ’60s space epics as “2001” and “Marooned” to find a film this determined to dramatize the very real perils of spaceflight.
Bullock and Clooney make their peril our peril in this absolutely gorgeous, moving and sometimes exultant reminder that the real terrors of space are scary enough, without invented bug-eyed monsters thrown in.
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(Read Roger Moore’s interview with Alfonso Cuaron  here)

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and the voice of Ed Harris.
Credits: Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, written by Jonas and Alfonso Cuaron. A Warner Brothers release.
Running time: 1:30

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6 Responses to Movie Review: “Gravity”

  1. lordtheoden says:

    oh brother, the trailer looks REALLY stupid. I for one can’t stand Bullock’s acting nor even the sound of her voice so would be torture…also I’ll have to pass on this one since I refuse to support any”work” of George Clooney who being a multimillionaire supports the Socialist/Marxist agenda of Obama. Serfdom for you and me is A OK in Clooney’s book while he and the rest of Hollywood rich and elite are far removed from it. I’ll wait for it to come to TV.

    • Best picture contender. Whenever I get a note like this, I automatically assume I’m hearing from somebody who has aged out of moviegoing and likes to pretend he’s not seeing this movie or that one because of his Neanderthal politics. So, guessing your last movie was…”Atlas Shrugged”? And before that, Red Dawn? The 1985 version?

  2. Fan says:

    My wife and I went to gravity, and both of us thought it was boring. The visuals were excellent, but the story line a little stale, like I have seen this before in other situations only this one took place in space. No real new story here for me. I could have certainly waited and seen it on a rental.

    • It’s an intellectual as well as visceral experience. Perhaps “Riddick” would have been more your speed.

      • fan says:

        Riddick managed to keep me on the edge of my seat. Gravity managed to put me to sleep. How many ways can you tell a story of a personal tragedy that happened in some ones life, only to faced with challenges they must over come to survive. I real life it’s a little more intriguing and intellectually stimulating, but in science fiction I have seen it to many times.
        Did somebody mention Riddick 4?

      • VAya con Diesel, pal.

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