By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
Since the beginning of mankind, what lies above us in the stars has been something or great wonder. Ok, that may be speculation on my part, but there have been numerous films dedicated to space, space travel, aliens in space, ducks from space, and other oddities. But few, if any, have captured the true vastness, elegance, serenity and loneliness that also contribute to the place beyond the clouds. In the latest film by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), Gravity, Alfonso captures each of these elements in what may arguably be the best film of 2013.
In present day, above the Earth, astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is commanding his final mission before retirement. At the same time, medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first mission into space, feeling a little nervous and queasy. While on a satellite, they receive a message from command center (voiced by Ed Harris) that a Russian satellite had been destroyed and the debris is orbiting around the planet fast and they need to get out of there before they are caught in the middle. Unfortunately, Matt and Ryan are not fast enough, and the debris comes around, destroying their space shuttle and leaving them stranded in outer space, tethered together. Survival kicks in and it’s a race to find a way for two stranded astronauts, with no communication left to Earth, to find a way to get home.
While one may not think that much story, let alone something interesting, could be told of a pair of individuals being stranded in outer space, Gravity completes flips that line of thought on its head. One could compare Gravity to a version of Castaway or Open Water, or even Robert Redford’s upcoming All is Lost, but Gravity is something completely different. While all of those take place in the ocean, this is in outer space. While the previous have land in front of them, or hopes of making it back, in space without a ship, all hope is but lost. Plus the infinite vastness of space, and the inability to move as one would on Earth enhances the terrifying nature of the situation at hand. And, unfortunately, things get much worse before they get better.
Visually, Gravity is one of the greatest films to ever be released. We have seen numerous visions of “space”, but nothing to the level of detail that Cuarón delivers. Watching this film, we actually BELIEVE that we are witnessing a space mission. From the movement of the astronauts, to the visualization of the Earth reflecting off the visors of the astronauts, the detail of the environment is impeccable. When it comes to the acting, the show is really about Clooney and Bullock, with much more emphasis on Bullock. Once the ship is destroyed, the performances bring us right into the terror these stranded astronauts’ experience, especially Bullock, with it being her first trip into space. It’s a given that Bullock will be up for a “Best Actress” nomination come award season, and, in my humble opinion, probably has the edge to win it.
Films of this quality don’t come around very often. Plus the fact that Cuarón is able to pull such performances from his actors, and supply such quality visual while dealing with a topic like space survival just makes it that much more impressive. Gravity truly gives us a movie going experience not soon to be forgotten. And, if possible, watch it in 3D. Honestly the best 3D film this reviewer has seen, to date, hands down. There’s no comparison. Cuarón and his team have created screen spectacle with a searing human dimension, and bring a true sense of wonder to a groundbreaking movie experience.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars