Nothing can survive in space. This is the first thing that the film tells us. So what are we doing there if nothing can survive? If the chance of the slightest error can result in total catastrophe, why are we there? What would you do in such a crisis? This is the question that 'Gravity' poses.
Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are two astronauts who are working on upgrades to the Hubble Space telescope when debris from an exploded satellite intercepts their orbit with devastating effects. With oxygen dwindling and gas canisters running low, a battle to survive against the encroaching void begins.
This is truly Bullock's film, and it's refreshing to see that she can break away from her romantic comedy "uptight at the beginning but not at the end" role, whereas Clooney feels like he’s phoned it in – again. Writer and director Alfonso Cuarón has created a fast-paced, suspenseful film that will make you gasp and grab the nearest solid object for fear of floating away.
'Gravity' needs to be seen in 3D; the depth that is provided is an essential experience, and coupled with the cinematography, it amazingly and completely captures the weightless nature of space. The constant movement and plentiful POV shots are enough to, at times, make you feel nauseous or dizzy (or both if you're me) but enhance the feeling of drifting through space. Computer graphics play a huge part in this film, with seamless integration that really looks like they have put Bullock and Clooney into orbit.
In the vacuum of space, there is no noise - and it would have been all too easy to scrap the sound budget there and then. But what the sound department has done is create a completely oppressive atmosphere, only adding to the intense tone of 'Gravity'. In stark contrast to this, Steven Price's score is nothing but instructive, with soaring strings at emotional moments and sustained piano chords in "vastness of space" moments. Being manipulated to feel a certain way is a film-maker's prerogative, but the lack of subtlety in the score does the exact opposite and can pull you out of an otherwise critical moment.
It amazingly and completely captures the weightless nature of space.
If this film doesn’t make you feel completely minuscule in the face of the enormity of the universe and physically exhausted from the constant tension, you’re not in the right mood. With relatively tight production values and beautiful visuals, it does a wonderful job. But if you’re looking for light entertainment, this isn't for you - 'Gravity' lives up the heaviness its name suggests. This film will most likely do to space travel what 'Jaws' did to beachgoers, leaving you happy to keep your feet firmly planted in the sand.