Intense. Stunning. Phenomenal. List pretty much any praising adjective to describe Gravity and the acclaim is warranted. With only a modest budget of $80 million, a cast size you can count on one hand, and a quick 90 minutes of running time, Gravity will amaze audiences with the best experience at the movies all year.
On paper Gravity probably doesn't come across as the must see movie of 2013. Sandra Bullock floating in space, trying to survive a ship wreck in a vacuum of nothingness and no little green men to make things interesting. I'll admit when the first trailer for Gravity came out I thought there had to be more to the plot than just that or the movie would just be a joke. The plot might be just that simple but the film is more than just that, so much more.
From the opening shot director Alfonso Cuaron uses an incredible uninterrupted long take that pulls you right into that moment and after that you feel like you are in space and along for the ride. I thought the long takes Cuaron did in his 2006 film, Children Men, were impressive but there are some continuous shots in this film that are absolutely breath taking. I'm not spoiling anything that wasn't already in the trailer here, but the shuttle destruction scene in the film's opening is said to go over 10 minutes without a cut or panning to another shot. Extraordinary scenes like that make you not want to blink in fear it might take you out of the experience. To try and describe the beautiful and mind-blowing visuals of the film anymore would just do them a disservice. However, what I will say is Gravity is not, I repeat, IS NOT a film you wait and see at home when it comes out on video. This film, as cliché as it sounds, is an absolutely must see in the theaters.
Bullock gives probably the performance of her career here. Given the moments her character is thrust into and feelings she is able to convey while being almost entirely on her own throughout the course of the film, it is truly outstanding. I would even venture to say this performance starts this year's Oscar buzz Bullock is that damn good. The inclusion of the wise-assed yet seasoned astronaut Kowalski (played by George Clooney) brilliantly lightens the anxiety and fear at all the right moments. Clooney's charm goes a long way but never over shadows Bullock; if anything it only helps aid her character as the film goes on.
Sure there are sequences in Gravity that defy the laws of physics but they are never to the point where those moments take you out of the film. The camera movement and the visual effects make the whole experience so life like you accept those inaccuracies as part of the reality. Cuaron adds to the sense of realism by using the complete and utter silence of space as a tool to create authentic panic. The silence and sound design is also balanced beautifully by Steven Price's score to round everything out and still give it that movie magic feel.
The best way to sum up this film is escapism at its finest. From the opening frame Gravity pulls you into it's world above our world and launches you into an immersive cinematic experience. It does what the medium of film was created to do: to tell a story that takes audiences away, if only temporally, and allows them to escape from their everyday lives. Gravity is one of those films and is a must see film. If at all possible see it IMAX 3D to get the full experience. You won't be disappointed.
To compliment Gravity as an amazing sci-fi film is all well and good, but it deserves its praise outside of just that genre. The film is a masterful work of suspense that supersedes just the sci-fi genre while still embracing it to its fullest. I can't say anything more about this film other than you should have stopped reading this review paragraphs ago and gone and bought a ticket for it.
Go see Gravity. What are you waiting for?
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.