Release Date: October 4, 2013
Runtime: 91 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock; George Clooney; Ed Harris (voice)
This is one spectacular movie! Alfonso Cuarón creates a sort-of “2001: A Space Odyssey” for the 21st century. It is tense, expertly filmed and choreographed, and beautifully acted by both George Clooney and an Oscar-worthy Sandra Bullock. “Gravity” grabs you right from the beginning and carries you along for 90 breathless minutes and when it’s over, believe me, you will need to catch your breath.
Clooney and Bullock play astronaut/scientists working on a satellite somewhere in outer space. Things are rolling merrily along, as evidenced by Clooney’s macho wisecracking with Houston mission control. But then….catastrophe! Space debris from a (in space terms) relatively nearby explosion careens into their shuttle. Umm…they’re sorta fucked!!
Clooney is great, but this is really Bullock’s movie, performance-wise. She is extraordinary! Showing remarkable depth and an emotional range that she has never exhibited before, she at once reminds us why she America’s most likeable actress AND why she is an Oscar winner. Boy, has she come a long way since “Speed” and the “Miss Congeniality” crap.
Cuarón has essentially made a two-person chamber piece, like you would see on Broadway, except that the setting is outer space. As much as can be said about a movie that takes place in space, this is a very intimate movie. We follow Bullock and Clooney as they slowly float from one end of the shuttle to another as well as through the confines of a space station. Each movement is so studied and meticulous in its execution that the film really feels almost like a dance. It’s simply beautiful direction by a director who is among today’s most masterful storytellers. (Alfonso Cuarón did “Children of Men” and “ Y Tu Mamá También” and also contributed to the Harry Potter franchise.)
In terms of the technical achievement, I have no idea how Cuarón and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki filmed the movie other than to say that a lot of green-screen and CGI must have been involved, in addition to what were, I’m sure, a lot of innovative and creative camera techniques. But the movie looks spectacular and space is rendered at once wondrous and fearsome, glorious and treacherous.
Special mention must be given to Steven Price, who was responsible for the astounding musical score. I can’t recall the last time that a musical score has complemented a film so much as “Gravity.” The droning sound that underscores many of the scenes evokes such a sense of impending dread that perfectly encapsulates Cuarón’s visuals. The score is never intrusive, but supplementary, building when it needs to and keeping a more low-key presence the remainder of the time. Just as when I see that Hans Zimmer has scored a movie, I know it’s going to be a great soundtrack, it looks like I have found another composer to keep on my radar.
This is a film in which all of the company, from actors to writers to technicians, brings their A-game. It is a smart movie, disguised as a Hollywood thriller, and one that must, I repeat…MUST be seen in a movie theater. If you can, see it in 3D as I feel as though this is the way the movie is intended to be seen. A wonderful achievement from all.