Movie Review: Gravity


Last month, I had the opportunity to attend an early screening of Gravity, the latest effort by writer-director Alfonso Cuarón starring Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as American astronauts out in space. I’ll let the trailer explain the rest:

It’s hard to talk much about the movie without giving away too much of the plot, but Cuarón wastes no time getting the action started. The effects are incredible — and I expect the movie to rack up the technical Academy Awards — and so seemingly effortless that it doesn’t feel like you’re watching science fiction. I also saw this on an IMAX screen, and definitely recommend seeing this movie in an actual theater. While the action isn’t non-stop, the general expansiveness of space is something that needs to be seen on the big screen.

While Gravity is a disaster movie, it’s also very much about its characters, which is refreshing. Many directors would be tempted to make this movie about the chaos, on the ground and in space — and while there is chaos, it’s only seen through the eyes of Clooney and Bullock’s characters. Mission Control is always offscreen, and there are no real supporting roles to distract from the main story.

Clooney turns in a solid and charismatic performance here, as usual, but this movie clearly belongs to Sandra Bullock. This is her follow up to this summer’s hilarious buddy comedy The Heat, so she’s really showing off her versatility this year. I never thought of Bullock as the type of actress to work a close-up (probably because she’s so adept at physical comedy), but her face tells the story here.

(Side note: It’s too early to know how competitive the acting categories will be this year, but this role is total Oscar bait and it’s almost a shame Bullock won an Oscar not too long ago for The Blind Side — a strong performance, but I don’t know how it became career-defining.)

Gravity is one of the early must-sees this fall, thanks to its amazing effects, great lead performance and truly remarkable story. Like all of Cuarón’s films, it is grounded in reality despite its fantastical elements (after all, this is the man who directed Children of Men, Prisoner of Azkaban and A Little Princess). Fewer and fewer movies seem to be made to be actually seen on the silver screen, but Gravity is one of them — so be the audience the film deserves.

Gravity premieres in theaters Oct. 4, 2013.