With ‘2001: A Space Odyssey”, Kubrick revolutionized the art of cinema and crafted space as artistic and subtle. Many films about space have been made since then, but nothing that captured the true nature of space. Movies like “Star Wars” and “Alien” took place in space, but their focus wasn’t the fear of space. After seeing “Gravity”, it becomes clear that Alfonso Cuaron has been able to do what Kubrick did and introduce something mind-blowing, terrifying, unique, and artistic for moviegoers.
‘Gravity’ starts off with biomedical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) on a space shuttle mission. For Stone, it is her first mission and for Kowalski, his last. Unfortunately, a debris storm strikes in their direction and Stone and Kowalski find themselves abandoned in space with their shuttle destroyed. Having lost all communication and running out of oxygen, the two must reach Earth.
The most incredible aspects of this film are the special effects and visuals. Make no mistake: this is the best-looking film of all time. The CGI is flawless. The special effects really work because of how realistically Cuaron captures space; when the debris is hitting the shuttle, the only sounds you hear are gasping and the film score. Cuaron’s timing when it comes to sound serves to show how frightening space is, and the way the astronauts move through space has never looked so realistic and terrifying.
While the special effects are incredible, what must really be noted is the direction. Cuaron is known for his long tracking shots and the first shot of this film really drives that home. The shot is his longest one yet, clocking in at around 15 minutes. It’s one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen, capturing the vastness of space perfectly. At the end of the day, Cuaron is a master behind the camera and his direction is what truly gives the special effects its meaning and beauty.
There has been a lot of buzz around the acting of this film, and rightfully so. The fear Sandra Bullock is able to emote hooks the viewer to feel for the character and to realize the scariness of her situation. While Clooney gives a very charming performance, this is Bullock’s film, and she absolutely delivers a powerhouse performance.
While the film’s visuals, directing and acting is all top-notch, the dialogue is, at times, troublesome. There were moments when the movie felt that it was forcing the characterization and moments where it was forcing unnecessary dialogue. Looking back on the film, these weren’t really notable flaws, but at the time, to see this masterwork being brought down a little by the conventional plot and dialogue really hurt.
But overall, “Gravity” is a work of art and a masterfully directed film. The characterization may be conventional at times, but it’s hardly a flaw. Good writing and acting is usually required for good characterization. In “Gravity”, masterful direction and acting are what ultimately give its characters that third dimension. This film is more than just about escaping space, this film is about a damaged woman finding courage in herself amid hopelessness and emptiness. Not since Kubrick has a director been able to paint such a beautiful and terrifying canvas of the cosmos.
Grade: A (masterpiece)