Space-stranded medical engineer Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) must face incredible odds to make it back to Earth in this nail-biting sci-fi thriller.
Why We Went
Critics love it. My friends love it. And being a huge fan of Cuaron’s work, I had high hopes for some soulful sci-fi.
Why It Worked
First order of business: If you haven’t seen this movie, do it. Right now! I’m serious. Quit reading this silly little blog and experience the revelation that is Gravity.
Go! Bring a friend or two. I’ll be here when you get back. Now! Shoo!
Oh hai! Didn’t see you there! So you saw the movie, I take it. Why, you’re very welcome! Really, it’s my pleasure! What’s that? Best movie about space since 2001: A Space Odyssey? Couldn’t agree more, chap!
Honestly, it may be BETTER in a lot of ways. It’s definitely more dramatic, that’s for darn tootin’. Sandra Bullock nails it and easily earns her spot as one of cinema’s strongest leading ladies. An even more impressive feat given the hundred others considered for this role. We’re talking A-listers Angelina Jolie, Marion Cotillard, Scarlett Johansson, and Natalie Portman. All of whom were probably too busy making shitty rom-coms.
So here are some key points:
Special effects. I, for one, was blown away. But you know what? You’re right – I’m not really an authority on the matter. Better check in with fantasy film titans James Cameron and Guillermo Del Toro. They probably have a pretty strong opinion about it, not to mention the experience to back it up.
Cinematography. Cuaron’s signature lack of cutaways – which made for one of the greatest moments in modern cinema in 2006’s critically heralded Children of Men – adds tension to a big black field of nothing. And when the perspective changes from an outsider’s view to the jarring first-person from INSIDE A SPACESUIT, there’s no looking away. Not for a second.
Conflict. Like me, you may have wondered how a movie set in the vacuum of space could be compelling. Where are the obstacles? Especially seeing as Bullock’s riding solo for more than 50% of the movie. Two words, my friends: space debris. That shit’s unpredictable, inescapable, and inconvenient. Your characters don’t have a chance. There’s no reasoning with it. There’s no fighting against it. All you can do is be smart and tenacious and hope to GOD you don’t end up like Shariff.
Themes. The closest I’ll give to a spoiler is pointing out all the great little sperm innuendos. Symbols of re-birth, infancy, and space-craft as man-made wombs are downright rampant. Fetal Bullock? I didn’t think I wanted that, but yes please! Oh, and while you’re at it — Could you pass the Clooney? I could explain his value in the film as a kind of paternal figure, but really, I just love looking at him. And listening to that voice. Mmm…
With now 2 major contributions in the genre, Alfonso Cuaron enters the film canon as a modern master of sci-fi. Don’t miss it.