There are probably a hundred different reasons why space continues to enamor us. I think the biggest part of it has to do with the unknown, the fact that we have a huge mystery out there waiting for us to be explored; which is why it carries such a romantic notion. There is also an enormous risk involved in getting there. Essentially you are setting out with nothing but what you can take with you and cutting yourself off. I, unfortunately, can’t speak from experience, but I would imagine it has to be the equivalent of going over a waterfall in a barrel and saying “Well I hope this works!” Growing up, the best idea I could get of being an astronaut was from watching Apollo 13. From that movie, we see the inherent risk. We can die. After watching this new film Gravity, you’ll never think of being an astronaut the same way ever again.
Gravity does not hold the largest cast. There are really only two major characters, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock, Speed) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney, The American). However, they do an excellent job of portraying the two fictional characters and story line. The film finds the pair and another few astronauts on a mission to repair a telescope. Dr. Stone’s character is green to space travel and is only there to assemble a seemingly important piece of the telescope while Kowalski acts as commander for one of his last trips into space. During work on the telescope, the group receives word from mission control that another satellite has broken up and formed thousands of little space missiles traveling at what I think I remember hearing to be 50,000 miles an hour! Needless to say, Kowalski as the veteran commander understands the need for haste and immediately orders an abort mission to get everyone out of the orbit of the debris. This is where it all goes wrong. The debris doesn’t give them enough time to get out of the way and completely destroys the shuttle and satellite the crew was working on. Killing nearly everyone and leaving Dr. Stone plummeting end over end into dark, silent, and endlessly chilling outer space. Turns out only the two have survived and it is up to the two to work together in order to return to a space station and get back home.
When I first saw the trailer for this film, I wasn’t sure they would succeed turning what appeared to be a single astronaut doing cartwheels in outer space into a full on sci-fi thriller. I know it doesn’t happen very often but hear me now, I was wrong. I know crazy, but I was very wrong. If you have seen any other space movie such as Apollo 13, Armageddon, yes, even Men in Black, this film blows them out of the water. This film is what every space movie should be based on and should be considered the new standard for space cinematography. I can’t begin to explain how much I enjoyed this film. It makes me want to write space poetry. The creativity in it alone allows for new levels of genius and my writing is simply not good enough to adequately portray what I saw. Alfonso Cuarón deserves to be put on top of the shoulders of Avatar and carried around. If you thought James Cameron was good in 3D, wait until you see this film.
Alfonso Cuarón wrote, directed, and produced this movie which is amazing for someone whose last few movies were Y Tu Mamá También and Children of Men. Both received praise but nowhere near this genre or field. Emmanuel Lubezki also deserves praise for the cinematography in this film. Matching CGI with film and making it seem flawless is not easy, but they have managed to make it an art. Space has no air pressure and therefore no sound which may appear somewhat dull but the use of silence is eerie and is used skillfully when portraying the challenges on the characters. Steven Price does have an expert’s touch to the film score that finishes out the sound perfectly. You could watch this movie blind and still find it chilling.
Lastly, the thing that I feel holds a movie like this together that last bit is the challenge the characters face. Bullock’s character deals with an immense amount of hardship in this film and it is her journey of attempting to overcome it that really makes this film special. I think I would find it overwhelming. What task could be more overpowering than getting home from space without a ship, crew, or even air?
I feel Gravity redefines what it is to make a space movie and will grab the audience by the goose bumps and hairs standing up on the back of their neck. It finds a way to take you into space with the characters. Hopefully, it won’t leave you there but send you on a chilling, twisting, heart pounding trip back again. Go see this movie. And then go see it again!
I give Gravity 5 out of 5.
by Jason Burleson