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Gravity – Movie Review

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Gravity – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

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Being a visual medium, filmmakers have the advantage to create a moving tableau of imagery that rocks the senses and take us to almost impossible locations. Alfonso Cuaron is certainly aware of that aspect of filmmaking, transferring the feeling of being in outer space to the screen, an experience only previously tackled to its full extent by IMAX documentarians and Stanley Kubrick. From a story and writing standpoint, Gravity is fairly basic. Visually, it is a technological feat, no matter what the format and screen it is viewed on. From the opening frame, Cuaron gives the viewer the sense of space travel, both its beauty and the potential dangers.

While Alfonso Cuaron’s careful attention to detail and simplistic editing adds to the overall success of Gravity, it is Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography that proves to be the star. The way he carefully maneuvers the camera brings an immense beauty during the more languid shots of the film. When the camera speeds up, Lubezki heightens the intensity and in some of the more impressive shots in Gravity, we see the point-of-view of the lead astronaut. The final result is like a combination of Geoffrey Unsworth’s camerawork on 2001: A Space Odyssey and an EPCOT attraction. The imagery is so absorbing, the scene cuts are practically unnoticeable. The visual effects artists also deserve a lot of credit for putting the right level of perfection and craftsmanship into making the space stations believable. Not a single scene went by, where I was not wowed by the technical innovation displayed.

The amazing technical quality Cuaron brings to Gravity is not merely limited to outside in the vast space of our solar system. Inside the space stations which the astronauts leap to and fro, the production design is quite stunning. While it seems unfair to compare Gravity so often to 2001, in this case, the similarities are major compliments. It is obvious that, like Kubrick, Cuaron has taken care to portray the shuttle interiors as accurate and close to reality as possible. It almost seems like Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were actually sent outside of our atmosphere to film on location. How many science-fiction films can you say that about? This sense of being realistically in space adds further to the terror, especially upon discovering the fates of some of the crew members. This increases the tension, which our lead character is going through during the ninety minute running time.

Sandra Bullock has a very difficult role to play as Ryan Stone, the astronaut left drifting throughout space. Spending most of her screen time by herself, she succeeds in making the most of her surroundings and her personality shifts from confident to scared are believable. Bullock’s performance makes up for the lack of connection towards her character. While her situation is frightening, the attempts at developing her are fairly basic and in one scene, Cuaron throws away subtlety and puts her into an obvious fetus position, complete with umbilical cord.

The dialogue, which Alfonso Cuaron co-wrote with his son Jonas, is on the simplistic side. Gravity could have deleted the dialogue passages and the use of words would not have been missed. While the space scenes are spectacularly handled and immersive, the conversations between Clooney and Bullock add little and feel very written. The Cuarons also utilise a story device later on that has rarely worked in the history of motion pictures and Gravity does nothing to buck the trend. This is a film where the story is best told through the visuals than with the dialogue.

Gravity might have wowed on the story level as much as on the technical level if Alfonso Cuaron had made it like a silent film with no dialogue and merely Sandra Bullock quietly thinking how to get out of her situation. Regardless, the visual and technological innovation displayed on screen is an amazing accomplishment and Lubezki even manages to top his awe-inspiring cinematography under Terrence Malick. Gravity is even universally appealing to those who have no interest in space travel or have a lack of fondness towards the science fiction genre. Like an EPCOT attraction with the most advanced of technology, Gravity succeeds in transporting the viewer to outer space for ninety minutes. Despite my disappointment with the scripting, every other department has obviously given one hundred percent into making this a breathtaking reality.

Review By: Stefan Ellison


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