GRAVITY (PG-13)

I have to admit I was a skeptic when I first heard about the movie Gravity. I mean, how interesting could a film about someone floating around in an alien-free space really be? I was thinking it would probably be Cast Away space-style. Yet, the weeks flew by and hoopla about the film only increased. James Cameron called it the best space film ever made and others were labeling it the year’s best picture. Okay. So, it was time to get over to the local theater and see for myself what all the fuss was about.

This Warner Bros. blockbuster stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone a brilliant engineer and astronaut on her first space mission. George Clooney plays Matt Kowalsky a veteran astronaut on his final mission. The two are on a routine spacewalk accompanied by flight engineer Shariff Dasari (Paul Sharma) when the unthinkable happens. They hear the words “Abort, abort!” and within minutes the magnificent silence surrounding them becomes a swirling minefield of deadly space debris from a nearby satellite explosion. Their shuttle is destroyed, communications lost, and the Flight Engineer killed leaving Stone and Kowalsky tethered together spiraling in space and running out of oxygen.

George Clooney played to type as the mildly narcissistic space cowboy sharing his seasoned experience with his companions. Clooney, a hugely talented actor and director in his own right brought some light comic relief to an otherwise intense plot. Yet, this film belonged to Bullock who carried the story almost solo in the role of her lifetime.

For the part Bullock spent endless hours daily alone in a cylinder with only the director’s voice coming through an earwig. This isolation though difficult, enabled her to draw on it to portray what her character was feeling. The scenes inside the space cylinder felt claustrophobic and desperate to me like being locked up in a tiny room and someone has thrown away the key. I felt vested vicariously in her journey of despair and breathlessly waited to see if she would make it? Gravity Director, Alfonso Cuarón dug deep to tell this tale that was sometimes suspenseful and certainly an emotionally raw soul-scraping journey.

Sandra Bullock
The film was over four years in the making and new technology was invented to simulate the weightlessness of space and a credible rendering of the sun’s light. Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) co-wrote the screenplay with his son Jonas. Cuarón shot the scenes so the audience could sample the sensation of floating along with the astronauts giving it a realism never before seen in a space film. It worked. This cinematic brilliance resulted in breathtakingly surreal scenes of the earth and the sun, and draws you into a comprehension of the limitlessness of space.
This film's groundbreaking CGI effects  are sure to raise the bar in an industry always looking to outdo itself. It has already garnered some of Hollywood's highest honors and has numerous Oscar nods including Best Actress (Bullock) and Best Picture.  But at the end of the day, it resonates because good CGI doesn't make for success, but good stories do. Gravity is a good story that speaks on a primal level about the human will to survive when faced with impossible odds  and all hope seems gone.

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