Film review: Gravity is an hypnotic tale of survival

Planet earth is blue and there's nothing they can do… Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity
14 Nov 2013 @ 10.19 am
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Planet earth is blue and there's nothing they can do… Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity
Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing they can do… Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity

Film review: Gravity 12A, 1hr 31 mins
Venue: Now showing at City Screen, Reel and Vue in York

There’s been a lot of hype about Gravity and let’s be honest – it’s an odd concept. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children Of Men, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban), set in space, populated with two very high profile actors and shot in 3D I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The film begins with a beautiful image of earth from space, slowly zooming in towards a solitary shuttle where half the crew are balanced on the outside, floating and fixing, listening to music and chatting.

The atmosphere is relaxed, although you get the feeling that whatever is going to happen soon isn’t going to be good.

Primary characters Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) are established pretty quickly – with Bullock as the uptight, quiet-spoken medical engineer on her first gig and Clooney as the egotistical, all-knowing, motor-mouth astronaut on his last shift before retiring.

It’s clear that these characters are deliberately on the opposite side of the spectrum to represent the audience versus the film.

Suddenly the crew are notified that debris from a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite is rocketing towards them and that they must abort the mission. Despite their attempts to escape, the shuttle is hit and Clooney and Bullock are sent careering into open space.

As a viewer this is absolutely terrifying, much like being stuck in the middle of the ocean with nothing but a buoy to keep you afloat. The camera sticks with Bullock – who is spinning further and further away from help and, quite rightly, hysterical.

It’s a wonderful experience in 3D – with the combination of the solitary figure tumbling in a void lined only with stars and the horrified face of Bullock in her helmet, the reflection of the earth and the remnants of her shuttle flashing across her visor as she turns.

In a nutshell Gravity is a strange affair: beautiful, terrifying and truly unusual. As a science fiction film its use of 3D comes close to the brilliance of James Cameron’s Avatar.

Bullock is simply fantastic in the lead role, and Clooney wonderful, yet enigmatic as the support.

Realistically this isn’t a film for everyone – it’s claustrophobic, tense and difficult to watch – but if you can get past the limited character development and lack of a particularly interesting plot, you can’t help but appreciate Gravity‘s hypnotic and visually captivating journey of survival.