Review - Gravity

Gravity (2013), PG-13, 91 minutes - Wow.  I dropped the ball on this film.  How did I not see this one in theaters?  I'm actually having a pretty hard time figuring that one out myself.  I love films set in space.  And I don't just mean the crazy sci-fi/fantasy stuff, but films about the space program.  Sci-fi based in reality.  This one was directed by Alfonso Cuarón (I loved 2006's Children of Men).  And while I've never been a huge Sandra Bullock fan, I've never had anything against her either.  Certainly not enough to keep me from seeing a film.  I remember seeing the trailer in theaters, but not being all that impressed at the time.  As positive reaction to the film came out after its release, I had apparently myself convinced that the trailer I saw was slow and boring, but I'll be damned if I can find it anywhere on the good old world wide web.  All that I can come up with is that I wasn't really paying attention.  In any event, it's a shame that I missed Gravity in theaters.

Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is on her first space mission.  The crew that she is a part of is led by Matt Kowalski, a veteran astronaut with a story for every occasion.  Kowalski is on his last mission before retiring with the second most clocked space walking hours in history.  The crew is in the final stages of making some minor repairs when debris caused by an exploded satellite hurtles in their direction, destroying their shuttle and leaving Stone and Kowalski adrift in space.  Their reactions to the situation create a nice yin and yang - space flight rookie Stone freaks out and can barely stay focused while seasoned veteran Kowalski is a calming influence and is quite resourceful.  Together they are able to work their to the nearby Russian space station.  Unfortunately for them, they're not quite 'out of the woods'.  The debris that took out their shuttle has orbited the Earth and is back to cause another round of havoc.

Gravity is a tense thriller throughout and is a film that I highly recommend.  This isn't just a tale of surviving an accident in space.  The threats keep coming, all with the terrifying possibility of ending life in the vacuum that is space.   The performances are nothing short of spectacular and I personally feel that Bullock's performance is stronger than the one she gave in 2009's The Blind Side that secured her Best Actress Oscar.  Dr. Stone's growth throughout this film is wonderful to watch - starting as a nervous newbie, becoming an absolute wreck, then turning into the determined and resourceful astronaut that she is at the end of the film.  I really enjoyed Clooney's role as well.  His laid back, calm personality really balanced the film.

Once in a while a film will be re-released in theaters in order to help give it a push for awards season.  I can only hope that Gravity gets such a release so that I have the opportunity to see it on the big screen.  I was blown away by seeing it at home, but the scenery and scope of the film was clearly meant for larger viewing. Don't you worry about how I saw this film despite missing it in theaters and its not being available on dvd/blu-ray yet.  I'm kicking myself for having missed it and am waiting for the opportunity to throw money at this movie as it rightly deserves.  The usual caveats apply: if you don't like movies set in space, then ignore everything I have said.  But if you enjoy nice, tight, thrillers with good characters and amazing visuals, then do yourself a favor and give Gravity a watch as soon as you can.

*****UPDATE*****

Thanks to the theatrical re-release in conjunction with this week's Oscar nomination announcement that I had hoped for, I was finally able to see Gravity the way it should be seen.  To hear my thoughts after a proper viewing, see where it falls on my Top 10 of 2013 list here.












*****SPOILERS*****

- Ed Harris doesn't appear on screen, but he provides the voice over for Mission Control.  I loved this because since 1995's Apollo 13 I hear his voice in my head when I'm watching a space exploration movie, whether he's actually in it or not. 

- Other than Bullock and Clooney, there is only one other character that appears on screen: fellow crew member Shariff.  Although the astronaut appears on screen, we never actually see his face.  The voice over for Shariff is provided by Phaldut Sharma.

- We hear the voices of three other characters throughout the film: Explorer Captain (Amy Warren), the Russian Space Station Captain (Basher Savage), and the voice from the Earth transmissions Aningaaq (Orto Ignatiussen).

- The 3D was well done, especially one scene where a tear floats away from Ryan's face and the camera focuses in on it.  The tear just levitates there and you see Ryan's reflection in the tear drop.  It really is a gorgeous shot.

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