Let Go And Lose Yourself In ‘Gravity’ (Movie Review)

Gravity TNIt’s extremely difficult to walk into a movie like this when there’s so much hype and garnered praise surrounding it.  I mean, it has to be good, right?  Well, that’s the exact sentiment and question I carried with me into Tuesday evening’s screening of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity shown to all of us in 3-D IMAX.  It just had to be epic!  And so what?!  Even if it sucked, how could you refuse this screening?  It’s a space feature presented in 3-D IMAX!  You can’t refuse that!  No sane person can.  It at least has to look breathtaking and gorgeous.  However, with all the so very much positive praise and acclaim this picture has been receiving, I was willing to gamble on the fact that my Tuesday evening was going to be filled with something very stellar.  And to think…this all began with my first introduction to the flick this past July at Comic-Con in beautiful San Diego at the “EW – The Visionaries” panel (see my coverage here).  So before I start talking about Gravity I would like to lead in with this quote from James Cameron and let it brew while we travel farther in.  “I think it’s the best space photography ever done, I think it’s the best space film ever done, and it’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time.”

Now while there’s no denying the film’s beauty (although that’s always in the eye of the beholder) and breathtaking scale, there’s also no short changing the fact that it has taken an “awful” long time for Gravity to finally take flight on the big screen.  As Cuaron admitted at the Comic-Con panel I was at this past July, the feature has taken 4.5 years to make.  That makes it a 7-year gap since Cuaron’s last project, Children of Men, was seen on the silver screen.  I wish I could take that long of a break in life, but I digress.  The script, co-written with his son Jonas, was first in development at Universal before being acquired by Warner Bros. in 2010.  It has also seen its share of star attachments including the likes of actresses Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, Natalie Portman and even Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., before locking in the small cast of Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Ed Harris.

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It was at Comic-Con where I learned first hand just how much work went into creating the visual splendor that is Gravity.  Originally scheduled for a release last November, the film was pushed back in order to complete the extensive post-productions effect work.  And if you heard Alfonso talk about the contraptions they built and the challenging ways they conceived to show the realistic effects of achieving zero gravity on the big screen, then you’ll also know why it took so long to produce.  You just can’t keep sending people on 6-second rocket rides to capture footage.  And yes, I have to go on record when I say, I’ve never seen anything look this spectacular before in my life.  In my opinion, the only way to see this movie is on the biggest IMAX screen you can possibly go to and in 3-D of course.  Seeing those nuts, bolts and screws flying at you is like having hot pancakes and maple syrup on a late, lazy Sunday morning.  Now coming from a 3-D hater, you know I’m serious when I recommend it here.  Alfonso had me at hello the moment I sat in my recliner to watch Children of Men on HD DVD back in 2007, but he has my jaw dropped wide open and in awe in regards to his latest work.  Ladies and gentlemen…this is G-R-A-V-I-T-Y.

In my opinion, this one should have been called “Intensity.”  From the opening credits the perils of danger loom and the grip or tension it has on you never lets go until the very end.  So I ask again, where’s the “gravity” in this one?  Unless we are talking about the “graveness” of the situation that Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) finds herself in after a chain reaction of debris from a satellite crashes into the space shuttle Explorer, which also houses veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) and a few others in their space mission.  Just about everything is obliterated and Stone finds herself literally lost and tumbling into space with a limited air supply and I guess I’ll use it again…in a very “grave” situation.  Now riddle me this.  What would be worse, being pinned down and stuck in a pitch black cave between two rocks or floating endlessly in space until you run out of oxygen and suffocate on carbon dioxide?  I think I would pick the latter one only because you are freer and have one hell of a view.  How about you?

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So all in all, Gravity tells the familiar tale of the primal instinct of survival, how far would one go and how much would they endure to save their own life.  It’s the adrenaline rush way it’s told here that makes it unique.  I mentioned the word intensity above.  Wow!  It’s much more than that.  It’s gripping.  It’s thrilling.  And it’s one hell of a rocket ride, never letting go.  In fact, not to sound too corny, but it gives new meaning to the words “star wars.”  Stone fights one hell of a continuous battle and endures what is seemingly the impossible at times just to cling to an ounce of hope that she can not only live to see another day, but also make it back home as well.  Notice I did not say anything more about Clooney’s character.  Don’t worry, no spoilers here, but rest assured…he’s a major player here.  I tread very lightly as I don’t want to ruin this for anyone.  I want you to go see it and feel the excitement.  I was so worried it was going to be bleak and pointless like 2003‘s Open Waters, but it was not.  Not at all!  If I can praise Gravity on only one thing in addition to its non-stop tension, I would comment on its runtime.  It’s perfect.  Not too long and overdrawn like the familiar waters of Cast Away, and not too short either.  It’s appropriately sized around the 90-minute mark and it may just leave you wanting a second helping.  That’s when you know you have a good thing.  It’s addictive my friend.

Gravity could have easily been a summer blockbuster.  Hell, it should of been.  It has more action, explosions and catastrophes than most of the big tentpole blockbusters I’ve seen this year.  While it’s no surprise at all that you’re in for one hell of a visual treat, let’s talk about the actors.  Luckily, we only have to talk about two of them, Clooney and Bullock.  What can you say, Clooney plays the same charming and egotistical man in all his films.  Nothing has changed here.  Bullock on the other hand, minus the haircut, continues to prove why she’s one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood.  This is her Cast Away and her time to shine in the spotlight, and while I didn’t feel for her character as much as I wanted to, I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the ride she took me on.  She took what she had to work with here and exceeded my expectations in every category.  This wasn’t an easy role to play.  It took a lot of emotion, dedication and physicality to play the role of Ryan Stone, and in my opinion she knocked it out of the proverbial ballpark.  Like I said my only complaint here is her character.  I just wasn’t attached to her as much as I wanted to be.  I admittedly was a little emotionally disdained.  But that’s just me.  And honestly, that’s the only reason you are not looking at a score of a 5 here.  Given her character’s backstory, I’m not quite sure in her situation if I would of had a reason to fight that hard to cling to life.  That’s all I will say on that.  My lips are zipped.

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So like the movie’s tagline reads…”Don’t Let Go.”  Believe me, you won’t want to.  The movie doesn’t waste anytime getting to the good parts.  The pacing and editing is precise in only giving you what you need and then boom, you’re in the middle of it all!  And what a hell of a ride.  A space odyssey, journey like none other.  Since I saw it in IMAX more than a couple of times I found my head bopping and trying to avoid hitting objects as I floated ferociously through space with Stone bouncing into metal objects and debris over and over again.  It felt real.  It felt authentic.  And most importantly, despite my problems with her character’s wanting to fight, it was a journey I felt that was worth taking the ride.  The rousing music at the end brought me full circle, put a smile on my face and left me wanting a second helping.  Maybe I’ll see it again theatrically, maybe I won’t.  But I do know this…I can’t wait to tackle this one on Blu-ray and learn all about how they filmed this.  For once, I’m looking forward to a disc with lots of extras.  Kudos to Alfonso and son for crafting a tight and effective screenplay that had me never wanting to let go.  See, the tagline doesn’t lie.  See this one on the biggest screen as possible, and if it’s a choice, opt for the 3-D experience.  It’s a ride like none other and the scenery is beautiful to take in.  Enjoy!

Gravity Movie Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

2 Responses to “Let Go And Lose Yourself In ‘Gravity’ (Movie Review)”

  1. Wil

    Not to nitpick, but it’s “would have,” not “would of.” Thanks for the review.

  2. Fred

    (Thanks for correcting him, Wil; this kind of mistake, made twice, needed to be caught and corrected by a proofreader and has no place in a published article.) As for the review, I can only add that the reason Bullock’s character seems so emotionally distant is that she has completely internalized the pain she’s still experiencing over the loss of her daughter. Notice that she never mentions the girl’s father (other than acknowledging there is no current “Mr. Stone”)to Clooney, and in fact never tells him her daughter’s name. We only learn it after Sandra has decided she wants to live after being prompted by her imagining Clooney was still alive.