Published on November 5th, 2013 | by Allan Brown12
Movie Review: Gravity 3D (2013)
Running Time: 91mins
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writers: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Plot: Astronaut Medical engineer Dr Ryan Stone and team commander Lieutenant Matt Kowalski , must work together to survive after an accident leaves them alone and adrift in space.
After a 7 year hiatus, multi award winning Mexican Director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) returns to our screens with what is being hailed by some, as the cinematic experience of the decade.
Our plot centres around Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first Nasa Space Mission. She is accompanied by acting commander, Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who is taking his final spacewalk before retiring from the Nasa Space Programme. What starts out as a routine mission quickly descends into a terrifying fight for survival, as debris from a satellite collision comes hurtling towards their location. When their space shuttle is hit, this leaves Stone and Kowalski utterly isolated in the vast blackness of space, tethered only to each other as they drift deeper and deeper into the void.
So does Gravity live up to it’s hype?
It is clear from the jaw dropping opening 15 minute single shot sequence, that the directors intensions for Gravity is to create a cinematic experience like no other. The film is shot using a 3D digital handheld camera, but never has a film quite captured the degree of fluidity, elegance or intimacy using this method, as shown here. It is known that Cuarón consulted with James Cameron (who developed digital 3D as we know it today) on using 3D technology to shoot Gravity during pre-production, after his astonishing 3D visuals on Avatar. The results: Perhaps the most immersive cinematic experience I have ever encountered.
The camera follows the astronauts moving with them as they negotiate their way through each scene, unburdened by noticeable edits or camera shifts. Never before has a film achieved quite this level of closeness or freedom in its shooting technique. Nor since Kubrick’s, 2001: A Space Odyssey has a film captured the vastness or endless expanse of space is with quite the level of fear, beauty and realism. It’s simply astonishing.
Not since Kubrick’s, 2001: A Space Odyssey has a film captured the vastness or endless expanse of space is with quite the level of fear, beauty and realism
Whilst some might gripe that Gravity has a simplistic and linear storyline, I would argue that again the directors intentions where always focused on giving the audience a REAL EXPERIENCE, rather than a multi layered narrative. The fact that the director has taken time to have Computer Generated arbitrary objects and water droplets hitting the camera lens, only solidifies the idea he wants the audience aware of its presence. In a sense, he wants you, the audience to be totally immersed into the reality of the visuals being displayed, never to question physical existence of anything in the shot. He wants you to believe he has taken a camera crew on location and filmed this event first hand and as its happening, like a fly of the wall documentary.
Gravity is filled with moments of high intensity, followed by sustained moments of calm and just as one problem is cured another takes its place. To simply call Gravity a sci-fi thriller would be wrong as it reaches levels of nail biting terror that most horror films don’t even come close too. Cuarón does well to balance these terrifying, edge of your seat moments with beautiful character development and in turn nurtures Sandra Bullock into turning in one of her finest performances to date. With themes of Survival, Rebirth and Evolution on show, Bullock embodies the role of Ryan, displaying a vulnerability and a range of emotions that are beautifully poignant and truly heartbreaking to watch. To watch her character develop over the course of the film is a wonderful experience filled with emotional highs and lows, a stunning performance indeed.
George Clooney charms his way through each scene the way only George Clooney can. And despite George, just playing George, there are notable instances where he snaps out of his optimism and charm in a way to grab the immediate attention and focus of Ryan (bullock) during her moments of surrender. These flashes of character shift are striking and add a deeper presence and respect to the otherwise jovial commander.
As previously stated the visuals in Gravity are truly unmatched thanks to Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life, The New World, Children of Men). From the stunning vistas of Earth from orbit to the panoramas of Egypt and beyond, each frame is a piece of art striking and beautiful in its view from the vastness of space, it is easy for me to say that space has never looked so strikingly convincing or as beautiful before on film. In fact, the visuals are so clear, immersive and beautifully realised that at times it is like the cinema screen ceases to exist.
Cuarón does well to respect the laws of physics for the most part, therefore as no sound travels in vacuum of space we are left with voids of silence or only the heightened breaths of our astronauts to temper the 7.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Cue Steven Price’s score. The full soundtrack to Gravity complements the film and matches its intensity and epic feel to great effect. Price uses threads of his score to alert the audience that something off-screen is coming, much like John Williams’ score did for Jaws, and it works stunningly well.
The partnership across the board and coherence between departments on this 4 year project is felt in every frame of the film. It is a stunning achievement and a landmark in cinema history. And while the debate for and against 3D rages on, it sometimes just takes a film like Gravity to show us, that in the hands of a passionate and focused director, it can really be something quite sublime.
Summary: Gravity is an awe-inspiring, wonderfully immersive and truly captivating cinematic achievement. Just be prepared to leave the cinema as physically and emotionally drained as the characters on screen.