Veteran astronaut Kowalski (George Clooney) and greenhorn technology specialist Stone (Sandra Bullock) man a standard maintenance mission on the Hubble telescope in outer space orbit; however, things take a lethal turn when debris from a nearby satellite throws the pair into a desperate struggle for survival.
The latest offering from Alfonso Cuarón—director of such disparate pictures as Y Tu Mamá También and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban—is yet another typically atypical piece. This is a wholly original, high-concept picture boosting a novelty that will surely captivate audiences: it takes place almost entirely in zero-gravity.
The SFX displayed here are astonishing. It is a visual feast throughout, from extraterrestrial sunrises to the Northern Lights, it’s sumptuous to behold. Cuarón manages to capture the dynamics of zero-gravity motion perfectly, as characters glide through space station corridors and fire forms curious floating spheres without gravity’s interference.
Yet for all its beauty, therein lies the terror. Our heroes float above the world with the promise of floating off into oblivion or falling to Earth in fiery rain hovering with them at all times. It can be a nauseous affair and many will find themselves suffering vertigo from the off.
The problem with a movie like this is that it’s difficult to keep this situation visually and dramatically interesting for the full running time. Not to mention the amount of pressure laid upon the film's two leads to maintain our interest throughout. However, Cuarón sidesteps these obstacles with a masterfully well-paced script.
One of Gravity’s strengths is the chemistry between Bullock and Clooney who distract themselves from their desperate situation with playful flirtation. While Clooney is a solid casting choice for a seasoned pilot, Bullock steals the show with her portrayal of a reluctant survivor.
Surprisingly, if this film is comparable to any release in recent years, it would be The Grey, starring Liam Neeson in a fight for survival against a pack of wolves. Plot-wise, there is no comparison, but thematically they are near identical. While the central message of both films is powerful, its handling is a little ham-fisted in its lack of subtlety.
While it is not without flaws, Gravity is a truly unique picture and is undoubtedly worth a watch as it is one of the most visually interesting films in cinematic history.