Note: The pre-screening for Gravity was in IMAX 3D. Please consider this as you read the review.
“Life in space is impossible.”
This is one of the predicated lines before the story in “Gravity” finally takes off into theaters. The central characters are Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) as they start the film fixing a satellite. Witty banter is exchanged between the characters with Clooney dishing out much of the film’s lighter moments.
However, space is a cruel mistress, and following a spectacular debris incident, Stone is separated from her team in the starlit space.
“Gravity,” written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón’s (“Children of Men,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) establishes early on that being in space is like being in the ocean. Movements slow to a crawl and, while it is beautiful at times, it is a great risk to venture out with plenty of life-threatening dangers waiting behind every celestial corner.
“Gravity” also manages to, almost immediately, convey that this is science – not fiction – despite the plot being a fairly imagined story. Noise is muted, despite catastrophic events occurring behind characters.
If you’ve ever wanted to see fire in zero gravity, it’s beautiful. It’s like liquid.
The score of “Gravity” does not undermine the silence of the deep, cold space and instead adds to the intense moments of the film. The juxtaposition of the loud, booming score and the silence of space are executed to near perfection. The special effects of “Gravity” also deserve a commendation unto themselves. You’ll be left scratching your head at the end of the film, wondering how they managed to put Clooney and Bullock in space so convincingly.
However, despite my praises for “Gravity,” there were minor gripes. The film’s central protagonist is engaging; Ryan Stone has her own demons that she must face, but the plot is very predictable. In the first 20 minutes of “Gravity,” it will be very easy to pinpoint the red-shirt. “Gravity” also likes to indicate the act breaks with not-so-subtle cues in the plot.
IMAX is highly recommended for viewing “Gravity,” but 3-D is not required for the full “Gravity” experience. Other than one or two gimmicky 3-D shots that were reminiscent of a Disneyland ride, the 3-D is superfluous.
As an artistic choice, “Gravity” puts the viewer in the role of astronaut in the first-person perspective. This is used to good effect, as illustrated when the audience sees just how much air Stone has in her suit, but sometimes entire sequences are in the first-person and the result is jarring. It’s the difference between watching a character in an engaging fight for survival and a personal dislocating jump to an occupation that the majority of audiences are not involved in.
For the general populace of Earth, “Gravity” is as close to experiencing space as a film gets. The science fits in all the right places and despite a relatively predictable plot, you won’t be bored for the duration of the film.
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