Gravity is one of those films where you are acutely aware of all of the components of moviemaking: cinematography, sound, special effects, acting, props. All play key roles in making this space thriller a real gut-punch of a movie that sticks with you.
The story line is simple. Astronauts are working on equipment in space when disaster strikes, and they have to figure out what to do. They’re cut off from the world and alone in an impossibly hostile environment. And that’s where all of the elements of the cinema arts come in. In these days of blasting soundtracks, how many movies feature absolute silence, or only the sounds of panicky breathing, to help tell the story? In these days of explosions and superhero epics, how many films require you to watch tiny things, like ice crystals forming on a space helmet?
The zero-gravity environment of space is a perfect setting for jaw-dropping technical wizardry, and Gravity doesn’t disappoint. The weightlessness special effects looked spot on and, in the case of a tear forming into a tiny drop of water and floating toward the camera, moved the story forward. Equally impressive was the camera positioning and sets that gave a true sense of the claustrophobic nature of spacecraft and their tininess against the vastness of the universe.
George Clooney is perfectly cast as the wisecracking veteran who falls back on years of astronaut training to develop a game plan on how to respond to the crisis. Sandra Bullock is a revelation as the first-time space voyager who must draw upon the will to live as she faces challenge after challenge. Bullock shows an emotional range I didn’t think she had. And while the physics of their space adventure may be sketchy, thanks to the actors the human story rings true.
Gravity is well worth the price of a ticket. Just be sure to budget time afterward when you can talk about “how did they do that?”