Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gravity (2013)

Who's in it?: Sandra Bullock (Bionic ShowdownDemolition Man) and George Clooney (Return to Horror HighReturn of the Killer Tomatoes!).

What's it about?: A novice astronaut (Bullock) is stranded in Earth's orbit without a ship when a space shuttle mission goes horribly wrong.

How is it?: My default setting is to have zero interest in movies about people stuck alone in one setting for an hour-and-a-half. Though I've heard good things, I've never seen Castaway, Open Water, or that one with Ryan Reynolds buried alive. That's why I resisted Gravity when I first heard about it, even though it stars two of my favorite actors and was made by one of my favorite directors.

The pull of Bullock, Clooney, and Alfonso Cuarón became too powerful though, especially when paired with almost universally great reviews and a serious admonition by the right people to see it in 3D. I'm almost as disinterested in 3D as I am in watching a person try to stay alive for an entire film without any antagonists, but when other people who don't care for 3D tell me that that's the way I need to see a movie, then I usually listen. And I'm glad I did.

Though the action of Gravity all takes place in Earth's orbit, it's not just 90 minutes of Sandra Bullock floating in space, which is what I sort of feared. She has plenty to do as she tries to make it back to solid ground and there are lots of complications to prevent her from getting there. Sometimes you don't need a bad guy.

There's also some light character development as Bullock - because of some trauma in her past - has to remember why it's even important to live. This is the weakest part of the movie, but it does drive her character's emotions which in turn gives her some great scenes that remind me why she's one of my favorite actors. George Clooney doesn't have to stretch as much, but he's perfectly charming as the more seasoned astronaut who commands the shuttle mission and it's not his movie anyway.

As thrilling as the story is though, the real treat is the way it's presented. Cuarón mixes live performance and CGI seamlessly to create some amazing and breathtaking shots. They really do need to be seen in 3D though to appreciate their full glory and should be viewed on the largest screen possible. I don't know how much Gravity will reward multiple viewings, but it's a powerful, immersive experience and needs to be seen the right way at least once.

Grade: Four out of five debris clouds.

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