Gravity (2013)

Clear Skies With a Chance of Satellite Debris.

Gravity (2013)In my film criticism class, my professor practically beat us over the head with today’s movie.  Every day he would ask us if we had seen it yet.  The first time he asked us was probably the first I had heard about this movie.  It was just such a bland title and I had no real interest in the people starring in the movie.  But after a few weeks of this questioning, I felt like I just needed to see what all the hubbub was about.  And that’s what led me to see Gravity, written by Jonás Cuarón, co-written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Paul Sharma, and Orto Ignatiussen.

The crew of the Space Shuttle Explorer – veteran astronaut Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), flight engineer Shariff Dasari (Paul Sharma), and first-timer Mission Specialist Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) – are on a routine mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope when an unexpected Russian mission strike on a defunct satellite starts a chain reaction of debris that heads straight for the Explorer.  When the debris reaches the Explorer, Shariff is killed and Dr. Stone is sent hurtling out into space, but Kowalski manages to recover her before it’s too late.  But their troubles are not over.  Their only hope is to make it to a Space Station and use its module to return to earth, but oxygen and fuel on Kowalski’s thruster pack is cutting their time window very close.

Okay.  I kind of see what the teacher was going on about.  This movie was very well done, but I wouldn’t actually put much stock into the story.  It was a pretty basic survival story.  IN SPACE!  But since they kept the story basic, I really couldn’t find that many issues with it.  The only issues I took were with the things that probably exist in real life that they used in the story.  Like fuck those Russians for starting all this shit in the first place.  You couldn’t give America a phone call just as a heads up?  I also take issue with whoever designed the doors on the space stations.  I understand there’s probably some pressure reason for them to fire open as fast as they do, but don’t you think it might be a little dangerous to have something fling open so fast in an area where people cannot stop themselves from travelling infinitely in a direction they are flung?  There simply must be hinge technology available that can reduce that potential problem.  There were also a few parts to the story I felt were unnecessary, such as Dr. Stone’s entire interaction with Aningaaq over the radio.  It also made me mad that these people wouldn’t just start speaking American like good, civilized folk!  They also had a little reveal with Kowalski as Stone was going unconscious at one point later in the movie that I wasn’t entirely shocked by as it seemed they had intended.

The real reason to see this movie is entirely how it was presented, and the credit should go to Alfonso Cuarón.  It’s gripping almost the entire way through.  At first I found myself worried by the fact that the camera movements were so disorienting and nauseating, but I imagine being in space would actually be pretty disorienting and nauseating.  I also noticed that they barely used sound in the movie, but then I remembered that in space no one can hear your soundtrack.  That’s a classic cliché!  There was one time that they played some music, and it kind of made me laugh, but that also might have been the relief I was feeling by that point.  It’s when Dr. Stone is standing up near the end of the movie.  The music they play (and how they film it) makes the simple act of standing up look so epic, but it kind of was by that point.  I then realized that I was being disoriented and nauseated from the edge of my seat, because that’s where the movie kept me.  Everything was a close call and a brush with death, and on more than one occasion they did more than get brushed by death.  They kissed death straight on the mouth.  If you were able to peel yourself from the moment long enough to look around, the movie was also very beautiful.  The Earth was in the background of most scenes, and looking at the aurora borealis (or whichever aurora they showed) from above was very beautiful.

The performances in this movie are another reason it works so well.  This is by far the best thing I’ve ever seen Sandra Bullock in, and I’ve seen Demolition Man!  But she really kissed this movie’s ass!  She was really good.  Granted, she mainly just had to be scared a lot, but she did that very well.  The only issue I took with her was that she perhaps gave up on trying to save someone in the movie a little too easily.  George Clooney was also very pleasant for what he did in the movie.  It really was more the Sandra Bullock show.  And that is it!  This has got to be the most limited cast movie I’ve ever seen.  This movie had a couple of other people involved in the cast, but most of them were voice only and the movie would’ve worked just as well without them.

Gravity is a fantastic movie.  The story is basic, but who cares because I was riveted the entire time with a nervousness I’ve scarcely felt for a movie I’m fully aware is completely fake.  This is not a movie for the weak-hearted or the weak-stomached, because I consider myself strong in constitution and even I was a little queasy in this movie.  And Sandra Bullock is better than I’ve ever seen her.  I don’t know if this movie is still in theaters, but if it is I recommend you go see it.  And if it isn’t, just go and buy it when it comes out.  Gravity gets “Either way, it’s going to be one hell of a ride” out of “Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.”

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