VOD film review: Gravity
Neil Brazier | On 02, Mar 2014
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Cast: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
When the Russians send a missile to blow up a former spy satellite, it causes a sea of shrapnel and debris to rocket around the Earth’s orbit, heading straight for Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who are out working on the Hubble Telescope. With the torrent of severed metal on their trajectory and due to hit faster than a speeding bullet, Stone and Kowalski can’t be anywhere near it.
That’s when Gravity kicks in. Opening up onto a stunning vision of the Earth, we are surrounded by the silence of space. Slowly coming into shot, a small speck and faint whisper – voices in constant communication. We float carelessly between the two astronauts who converse between themselves and NASA back at home. It’s an almost serene, gaping quiet, with a view only gods get to witness.
The majesty soon turns to panic. This is where Gravity grips you. Stone is ripped away from the ship and Kowalski’s safe grasp, her terror so real as Earth spins in and out of view enough to make you grip your chair to convince yourself you are safe. With depleting oxygen levels already something to worry about, the thought of tumbling endlessly through space with her makes your heart clench.
This is one woman’s quest to survive in the most impossible of scenarios. Her instinct, her sheer will, spurring her on as she struggles to get back home – her home, which taunts her by always being so large and imposing in her vision.
What makes Gravity almost unbelievable is the fact that none of it was shot in a zero-G chamber: it’s all a blend of CGI. But this is no ordinary CGI that you’ve seen in a James Cameron or a Pixar movie. In fact, director Alfonso Cuarón had to wait for technology to catch up with his vision so he could make the film – and it was certainly worth the wait. From the exterior shots of outer space to the interior of the various space shuttles, every intricate detail, the droplets of water, the flicker of flame, a Marvin The Martian figure, is rendered in such realistic beauty.
With its simple premise of surviving, Gravity is made even more dramatic by Steven Price’s score – which has already won awards. Within the silence of space, the destruction from the debris is told through the music, the peace broken by a crescendo of digitized sounds. The score is just as detailed as the film, recording individual instruments and layering them to create an immersive experience that compliments the movie perfectly.
For a film that only features two people, it creates incredible empathy with so little. We know almost nothing about Dr. Stone, other than she has seen tragedy and that this is her first mission, but we become so engrossed that we don’t need any other characters.
Sandra Bullock does outstandingly well as Ryan, a world away (literally) from Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality. She is aided by Cuarón, whose direction and writing are faultless – the opening shot lasts for over 12 minutes.
In a market saturated with cities getting levelled and casts of dozens, Gravity makes a refreshing change in the same way Inception did during 2010’s Summer of Sequels. This space thriller does almost everything differently from its Earthly counterparts and yet it gets every beat exactly right. Gravity draws you in so much emotionally that you’ll be cursing Dr. Stone for not keeping her helmet on, kicking as she kicks, bouncing as she bounces, on the edge of your seat, desperate for her to succeed. Just don’t forget to breathe.