Gravity – A Review

November 28, 2013 10:56 am

Any Astronauts watching would have considered the events in Gravity to be a bad day at the office. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first space mission which goes horribly awry after her space shuttle is torn apart from the debris of a destroyed satellite. Along with Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) Stone survives but is set in a race against time to secure an escape pod from a nearby Chinese satellite to escape. The story is a simple survival set up. Stone must utilise what little training and knowledge she has to survive this ordeal.

The narrative is interesting in the sense that it deals with feeling isolated and being out of one’s depth in a hostile situation in a unique manner. However, whilst these themes are fairly relatable, it is hard to truly connect with the story given its setting: space. This is where the biggest issue comes into play. Despite how vast and seemingly endless space may be, the story feels slightly constricted. At least the story Director Alfonso Cuaron tells is. As a survival story, there is very little to interfere with Stone’s fight to survive. No outside factors other than the dangers of space and her own inexperience hinder her. Admittedly, these are largely massive obstacles which should not be undermined. However, without an actual physical threat that we can relate to, it is hard to truly connect to Stone’s plight.

Putting that to one side, Gravity is visually stunning – a technical masterpiece. Every aspect of production is flawless. Steven Price’s musical score intensifies the action, bringing the limited story to life. Emmanuel Lubenski’s cinematography is astonishing to watch as well. The camera is never stationary for too long. Lubenski’s shots glide and float gracefully, almost as if Gravity was shot in a zero-weight environment. Even in 2D the visual effects are mind blowing. The idea that new technology was developed for this film to be made is astonishing, and really makes Gravity a game changer in that respect. It makes the interludes of waiting for stuff to happen more bearable as the backdrop of the darkness of space and the mass of the earth’s surface are gorgeous to look at.

The casting is also excellent. Bullock and Clooney work well together as their characters contrast one another. Clooney plays the experienced veteran Astronaut who is calm and collected under the worst of situations. He acts as a mentor of sorts and even the catharsis for Stone’s development. Bullock also gives an excellent performance. Stone is a tortured individual living an exhausted existence that led her to retreat to the isolation and quiet of space for a newer purpose. As the story goes on she struggles with the decision to carry on or give up the struggle. The characterisation feels dated but is given a fresh breath of life by Bullock’s performance. Even with the back story surrounding her dead daughter which feels forced, Bullock manages to tug gently on the heart strings.

Gravity manages to work despite its survival story lacking a large amount of thrilling moments. Not to say there aren’t any at all. When Gravity is good, it’s great. But there are moments when it feels a bit slow and sluggish. This is not too big an issue because it is so technically sound it becomes an immersive experience. The excellent acting contributes towards this too with Clooney and Bullock portraying perfectly the humanistic emotions involved with trying to survive in the harsh and barren coldness of space.

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