- Warner Bros
By Carly Keyes, Daily Arts Writer
Published October 2, 2013
When I was 9, my mom told me I should watch this movie called “Star Wars.” However, my next-door neighbor, with whom I was forced into play dates, was a huge “Star Trek” fan — and a total nerd — so I wanted none-of-that “sci-fi” stuff.
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Somehow, she reversed my obstinacy (as moms tend to do), and as soon as she popped the VHS into the VCR (it pains me to know that many people today and in future generations will never what that means), an obsession began, one that instigated my love for film and for storytelling, and it had nothing to do with the “sci-fi” creatures at the Mos Eisley Cantina or aboard Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge.
“Star Wars” is full of dramatic moments sprinkled with a bit of comedy, and just happens to be set in space. And that’s exactly what “Gravity” is.
Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men”), “Gravity” is almost entirely set in space. At first, it seems doubtful that a writer-director could create a one-location storyline to sustain a 90-minute, full-length feature. But, akin to “Cast Away,” where Tom Hanks mesmerizes as simply “a guy stuck on an island,” Cuarón finds a way to keep the dialogue and conflict fresh and the viewer in excruciating suspense as Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock, “The Heat”) struggles to survive on her very first trip into space.
George Clooney (“The Descendants”) plays her right-hand man, Matt Kowalski, a seasoned astronaut on the verge of retirement: This is his last venture. Ed Harris (“Snowpiercer”) makes a highly fitting and endearing “appearance” as the voice of Mission Control, a throwback to his pivotal role in “Apollo 13.” (If you don’t know what a VCR is, then you probably don’t get that either).
It’s easy to understand why Clooney’s listed in a double billing — big names sell. But, as they tend to do, movie marketers mislead. Viewers might be disappointed when they discover that Clooney shares very little screen time with Bullock, though he does provide an impactful and pleasurable breath of fresh air. In fact, if “Gravity” were a song, the artist for the track would read: Sandra Bullock (feat. George Clooney). His appearance is a necessary part of the plot, but the film strictly relies on a riveting performance by Bullock, unarguably the most fierce and fearless female protagonist since Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in “Alien.” She’s a damsel in distress that actually does something about it, instead of waiting powerlessly for a man to come to her rescue.
Warning: A cheesy pun too good to avoid approaches. … The special effects are “out of this world.” Whereas 3-D can also be a helpful marketing scheme, but since “Avatar,” it has been typically an unnecessary and actually cheapening visual addition. But the 3-D presentation in “Gravity” endlessly heightens the immersive experience.
You wouldn’t want to watch it any other way as the collision of images and sound grip emotionally. The entire ride feels almost tangible, like we’re right there with Bullock during every beat of her journey, which unfolds in real time, wishing we could escort her to safety.
“Gravity” combines cutting-edge computer-generated technology with a simple tale of one woman’s solitary quest for survival. It’s an incredible and elaborate cinematic achievement that’ll leave you walking out of the theater with a newfound appreciation for freedom … and solid ground.