Joseph Austin reviews Gravity.
“Life in space is impossible.”
Gravity conveys its opening statement like no other sci-fi film before it.
A 90-minute thrill-ride that both dazzles and disorientates the senses at every juncture; Gravity boasts exceptional visual effects, stunning cinematography, captivating performances and nail-biting tension throughout.
If you didn’t already hate the idea of space before Gravity, you sure will now.
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards and winning seven; including best director, visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing, cinematography, editing and original score, Gravity took this year’s Oscars by storm.
And rightly so.
On a routine mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope satellite, rookie astronaut Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and NASA veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are cut off from mission control after debris from a Russian satellite destroys their shuttle.
Killing the third member of their team, the debris leaves the two astronauts stranded in space.
Director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men) helms a film set in space that, rather ironically, comes as a breath of fresh air.
Thrusting Gravity into (Academy award winning) space is its visual effects. They are truly sublime.
There are points in the film where you do have to remind yourself that what is on screen is entirely fabricated, and the 3D version only heightens the excellence of these effects.
In terms of performances, Sandra Bullock is at Gravity’s core.
Reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien, it is no coincidence that Cuarón and co decided on a female lead for Gravity (but sadly, no aliens.)
Clooney’s Matt Kowalski is secondary to Bullock’s central figure who, between the two of them, make up the film’s only two on-screen characters.
In fact, it is the absence of characters in Gravity that compounds Stone’s plight, making her ordeal seem all the more real, and all the more distressing.
But, aside from being a solid ‘100’ on the thrill-o-meter, Gravity is subtly thought-provoking.
In one scene, the foetus-shaped Stone finds solace for a moment after re-entering the womb-shaped space station, raising questions of re-birth.
Plus, Gravity’s final moments are heavily weighted with evolutionary, and rather contradictory, religious imagery.
Perhaps the film’s most touching moment comes when Stone, at her lowest, is content on giving up after her mayday call is picked up by an unbeknownst Chinese radio savvy and not, well, anybody else.
Cuarón perhaps suggests that in the end, lack of human interaction and the fear of dying alone is something we all dread.
Pitted against today’s ever expanding galaxy of sequels, reboots and remakes that circle around like a bad case of space dust, Gravity is a guiding light of originality that shines brightest in the sky among its many hazy contemporaries.
Beautifully put together and commanded with such grace and elegance, Gravity is an awe-inspiring, overwhelming, and nerve-rackingly tense journey to the stars and back.
Gravity is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD.