Twitter Plot Summary: When The Russians accidentally blow up one of their own satellites, astronauts Clooney and Bullock try to survive the ensuing debris.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Key Cast: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Ed Harris
Five Point Summary:
1. That opening scene. Yowser.
2. Lost in space, and only one way of getting home. That’s if your oxygen lasts…
3. That’s a heartwarming conversation with some peeps back on Earth…
4. I thought for a second that the film had nuked the fridge, but no… back to reality.
5. And a perhaps inevitable ending. Perhaps.
I’ll admit, I was expecting greatness from Gravity. Cuaron is a master of the long take, as we have seen previously in Children of Men, which is a definitive five star film in my book. His style creates an almost documentary feel to his work, which in this case helps draw you into the drama. The opening scene is a breathtaking arrangement, swirling around in the vacuum of space as George Clooney’s Kowalski, a seasoned NASA veteran, rotates around the Hubble telescope on his gas powered rocket pack. Meanwhile Sandra Bullock’s Dr Stone, on her first mission into space, is busy repairing said telescope when Ground Control notify them of an incoming debris field inadvertently caused by the Russians. Cue an epic race against time (and low oxygen levels) in order for them to get back down to Earth safely. Cue 90 minutes of tense drama carried almost singularly by Sandra Bullock. To go into any more detail would spoil the story, but there is fun to be had in how Kowalski and Stone react to their situation, the hardened veteran and the green first timer.
As a script it’s quite basic, but when you take it in perspective alongside the rest of the film, specifically the visual effects and the score, it’s a masterpiece of cinema. It doesn’t ever try to be more than what it is, a simple adventure story, albeit one with some amazing visuals. It’s very rare that I say this, especially for a live action film, but Gravity deserves to be seen on the big screen in 3D. It makes full use of the technology in creating depth to the image and in creating a real sense of being up in space with Bullock and Clooney. There’s also a nice nod to Apollo 13 with Ed Harris essentially reprising his character from that film and being the voice from Mission Control in Houston.
Whilst the script is basic, there’s profundity to be found in the themes the movie chooses to follow. In Dr Stone we have a representation of all that humanity represents. She’s lost everything, both in her past and in the present, but she doesn’t give up. Okay there are going to be blips along the way because there always are, but ultimately the human spirit prevails. Of course, in her case it helps that she’s a brilliant scientist, but the point remains even so. There’s also the theme of nobility, of self sacrifice and maintaining a calm demeanour in the face of overwhelming odds. There’s also the aforementioned visuals which look amazing, and the score from Steven Price plays with our perception of the vacuum of space and uses sound (or the lack thereof) to emphasise dramatic beats and help conjure a sense of isolation in the great dark void. Of course, you could just watch the film and think “Crikey, that was really good!” Whichever way you approach it, Gravity is bound to have longstanding appeal. It’s debatable whether it will have the same effect when transposed to our television, there’s potential for it to be a far more diluted experience, but in cinematic terms at least it makes a definitive statement as to the possibilities of the art form.
Favourite scene: The opening sequence. Simply masterful.
Quote: “Half of North America just lost their Facebook.”
Silly Moment: Lucky George Clooney had a rocket pack eh?