There is no way to start a review of Gravity without pointing out that it is more than amazing. The movie is not only worth the insanely high cost of movies these days, but it will also be worth getting the Blu-ray version whenever it hits the shelves. If there is any one reason why anyone should see the film, that reason can be singled out to a marriage between styles; Gravity exists at the corner of blockbuster-style captivating effects and independent-style plot and precision.
Gravity amounts to a space thriller at its core. It is not exactly sci-fi since the technology and locations, for the most part, currently exist. A great deal of research was done to make the film authentic and gritty, there are no magical mystery boxes that solve problems, only George Clooney’s wit and Sandra Bullock’s fervent desperation.
The crowning achievement of the film lies in the visual and sound effects. Unlike a majority of space films, there are no deafening explosions. Everything is heard is from the perspective of Sandra Bullock’s character Ryan Stone. From the introductory interplay between Houston and the Space Shuttle to the very end, the only method by which audible tension is introduced is through the riveting score. If it were not for the music, all that would be heard would be gasps for air and sounds transmitted through touch. For example, when an electric wrench is used, rather than the shrill whine of machinery that would be expected, a low pitched groaning sound is all that is heard.
Beyond the sounds of the film, the visuals are dramatic and captivating. While pure mayhem and destruction is happening in the foreground, the Earth floats tranquil beyond the grasp of our heroes. Fear inducing scraps of metal may be whipping by, but look, there is the Nile Delta at sunrise. The juxtaposition of the horrors of the movie floating several hundred kilometers away from the Earth hammers home the idea that humans are lucky for what is at home. The sound and visual effects make the whole movie worth it alone.
In terms of the plot, the movie grabs hold of the audience and does not let go until the credits role. There are a fair share of obvious moments in the course of the film. A solution is rarely reached on first try, and the whole chain of events goes from a believable premise to a remarkably unlikely outcome, but therein lies part of Gravity’s magic. The movie ramps up in such a way that it is hard not to become invested in the fates of the characters. One of the other sublime joys of the movie is that little comes as a shock, the movie is paced in such a way that it is evident what is coming.
There are a few final notes to heed when going to see Gravity. Unlike most movies with a 3D option, the third dimension is not a gimmick, it is purely necessary. The film is also, for the most part, scientist approved. Director Alfonso Cuarón doesn’t have to bend the laws of physics much to get his vision across. Finally, beyond effects, the cinematography is purely stellar. Whether the fragility of humanity is being highlighted by an almost womb-like scene or the the International Space Station is being ripped to shreds by a debris cloud, the films is captivating.