Feel The Pull of Gravity

By Danny Thompson

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“Gravity” is not a film; it is an experience, and it leaves you literally holding your breath. Director Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) transports viewers into outer space, nearly suffocates them, almost burns them alive, and finally tries to drown them before allowing them to set their feet down on solid ground. These events (and many more) happen to Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) as she struggles to make her way back to earth after the space shuttle she was working on is struck by a cloud of debris.

To truly appreciate this movie, one has to experience it in IMAX 3D. The setting, outer space, is stunning and brilliant. Both while floating among the grandeur of the stars and while being tossed around a space station from a first person perspective, your field of vision is filled to the max with stunning visuals. Even though this movie was obviously not filmed in outer space, it may as well have been. The camera flips and floats around, mimicking the absence of gravity and causing you to forget where you are at times. That’s why I say this movie is an experience. Instead of bringing the story to you, “Gravity” tethers you to its space suit and pulls you right into the screen.

The movie focuses on only two characters, Doctor Stone and astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). One hears the voices of others over the radio, but never comes face to face with them. (Save for one scene, and I won’t ruin the surprise). Both actors turn in great performances, as one would expect from veterans like themselves.

The best thing about the film was its ability to create suspense. In one scene, Doctor Stone is struggling to get inside a space station as she runs out of air in her suit and begins to suffocate on carbon dioxide. The building tension makes you want to hold your breath and not let it out until she does. This type of suspense is repeated in various scenes and is always accompanied by a swelling bass noise. Most of the film is silent aside from dialog (because there is no sound in space), so the sudden addition of noise builds even more tension. In addition to suspense generated by a single scene, the entire 90 minute movie is suspenseful. Cuarón does an excellent job of making moviegoers feel the vast, unpredictable, nature of space. No one in the theater can be sure how the movie will end.

If I could say one thing about “Gravity,” it would be this. “Gravity” is a truly original film; it boldly goes where no movie has gone before. It has a great original plot, and is shot in a mix of first and third person, both of which leave you feeling like you are floating around space. The originality of it also adds to the suspense. Watching it, I had no idea what would happen next because I had nothing to compare it to. The overall concept is somewhat reminiscent of “Apollo 13,” but that was based on a historic event. Hollywood loves to recycle. They’re very green when it comes to their (over)use of common themes and motifs, but “Gravity” does not fit into any category of film.

My only knock on the movie is that it may not have very high re-watch value. What makes it work is the suspense, and that may not be there to the same degree the second or third time around.

I would tell anyone I know to go see “Gravity” in IMAX and 3D. It’s a spectacular experience that can’t be replicated on a smaller screen.

4.5/5 Stars