Who wouldn’t want to go into space with George Clooney?
While their team is on a routine mission, medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) find themselves the lone survivors of a collision in space. Without a ship and running low on oxygen, they must find a way back to earth before they personally experience just how deadly space can be.
Alfonso Cuaron is one of the most underrated directors working today, or at least he was before this film. Even with the film’s short running time of 91 minutes, a story set in space with only two actors can be a little hard to pull off (Granted, Duncan Jones pretty much just had Sam Rockwell for “Moon” and that turned out quite well). From the opening scene the audience is set up with an environment that is just mesmerizing to behold. Space has been covered by many science fiction and horror films over the years, but very few of those guys could begin to hold a candle to what Cuaron and his special effects crew create here.
Along with a competent director, “Gravity” requires two strong actors to make the film’s small focus work. George Clooney is at his most likeable as Matt Kowalski. Wise-cracking and loveable as ever, his character is the heart of the film. On the other hand, Kowalski is also a seasoned astronaut who calmly reacts to the extremely dangerous situation presented. Bullock’s Stone, however, is the opposite of calm. Having been rushed through the training for space (one of many small details the film makes you tilt your head at), she relatively loses her mind when the team’s shuttle is destroyed and continues to suck down as much oxygen as possible with every breath. As you can probably guess if you’ve seen your fair share of flicks, her character is the one the story centers on and, in turn, receives the most development.
Both actors are in great form here, but more personally speaking, Bullock makes up for the fact that she won on Oscar for this.
Aside from a few complaints from the science community, the only real problem with “Gravity” is that there is a very pedestrian script holding it up. The dialogue and plot points essentially get the characters from A to B, but there is never anything of particular interest to be found in it. Clooney and Bullock should get extra points for classing things up to where it doesn’t drag down the film. Again, not bad, but clearly the weakest link to an otherwise great film.
In my last review, I talked about the great intensity and suspense Paul Greengrass achieved in “Captain Phillips.” Nothing against that film, but “Gravity” cranks those up to 11 and nearly suffocates you. I found myself gripping the armrest or curling my toes more often than I care to admit. If you’re the kind of person who digs through a bucket of popcorn when film sequences get intense, go ahead and buy the large.
“Gravity” is an imaginative film with gripping visuals and strong acting that is another great addition to what is shaping up to be a memorable fall film season.