The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Gravity | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Gravity

A pair of astronauts are set adrift in space after a collision with debris from a damaged satellite.

Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris

Rookie Mission Specialist Ryan Stone (Bullock) and astronauts Matt Kowalski (Clooney) and Shariff (a literally faceless Phaldut Sharma) are working on repairs on an orbiting telescope when a shower of space debris from a damaged satellite hits them at rapid speed. Shariff is killed instantly while Stone is sent hurtling into space. Kowalski sets off to retrieve her but, with their shuttle rendered inoperational, the pair face the seemingly impossible task of making it back to earth.
In Europe we've become spoilt lately by seeing many movies a week or two before our cousins across the Atlantic. It had always been standard for a film to initially release Stateside with a wait of a month or so before hitting theaters on the opposite side of the pond. That's generally a thing of the past now, thanks mainly to a fear of piracy on the part of distributors but, for whatever reason, Cuaron's latest film has seen a return to the traditional model. By the time it opens here on November 8th it will have been five weeks since its U.S debut. Trying to avoid reading about 'Gravity' for the past few weeks has proved a futile task. 
Much of the praise has been directed towards Cuaron's use of 3D. I'd heard this sort of hyperbole around the format in the past yet remained unconvinced by its potential. Given the choice, I would always opt for 2D and recommend others to do so. 'Gravity', I had decided, was to be the final straw for me when it comes to that troublesome extra dimension. Part of me was actually hoping the 3D would be a disappointment so I could finally draw a line under my relationship with the "gimmick". I can't believe I'm typing this but yes, the use of 3D is not just highly impressive, it's the only way the movie should be seen.
As someone who gets dizzy when I have to stand on a stool to change a lightbulb, I find it absolutely bizarre that there are people willing to float around in space so us bums down on Earth can continue watching reality TV and tweeting insults to celebrities. Cuaron's movie, if nothing else, is a glorious tribute to the work some of the planet's greatest men and women do in the name of progress. Watching the ultra realistic images of Bullock and Clooney floating against the backdrop of this rock we call home, you can't help but feel a sense of immense pride in the human race. For all our flaws, the astronaut is a symbol of what we can achieve when we get things right.
Cuaron shoots his film like Hitchcock's 'Rope', in a series of extended takes, the first of which really is something to behold. Despite the fact that this has clearly all been shot in front of a green screen, you never see the wires (and I'm someone who always looks out for them), as you all too often do with modern effects movies. The feeling of a lack of gravity is conveyed perfectly and though afterwards you'll inevitably ask "How the hell did they do that?", the thought doesn't actually cross your mind during the film; it simply seems too real. Until James Cameron buys his own space shuttle and shoots a movie in space itself, this is the closest we'll get to the incredible awe astronauts must feel.
My one complaint concerns the score. While Steven Price's music is great in its own right, I felt it too intrusive. In space, of course, there is no sound, a reality Cuaron sticks to in his sound mix. The moments of silence are eerily immersive and when the score kicks in it takes you out of the reality somewhat.
As far as this year's visual spectacles go, 'Gravity' is second only to 'The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears'. See it in 3D on the biggest screen you can find. 

Eric Hillis