Gravity ★★★★

Nothing amazes me more than space. So completely fascinating, beautiful but also terrifying by nature, I spend far too much time absorbed by videos, articles and pictures of stars, solar systems and anything else. You name it, I’m fascinated by it and I easily predicted that I’d thoroughly enjoy Gravity based on setting alone and the themes that are presented. If I were presented with a movie that’s nothing but shots of planets from space with ambient music playing in the background I’d still give it a high rating.

What I think Cuaron does really well is capturing the unstable, unfamiliar nature of space. Utilizing frequent shifts in tone from calm to immediate danger to demonstrate this; the result is an intense audiovisual experience that produced reactions from my body on multiple occasions. Whenever a character went spinning into the voids of space – notably Dr. Stone for the first time – my stomach turned; whenever they went crashing into an object I braced myself; just the thought of being lost in a mass of silence is enough to make me uneasy, I couldn’t even imagine how terrifying it must be.

It goes without saying that Gravity is a stunning piece of visual effects work and a joy to look at. The sweeping vistas and sunsets of Earth are beautiful, the dark expanse of space is unnerving and the shattering of space stations is intense; I’m not the biggest fan of excessive visual effect wizardry but Gravity is as near of a flawless execution as I’ve come across. It’s the little things that really won me over, such as the reflections on the helmet and drops of water floating in zero gravity. The score and sound effects complement both the calm and dramatic elements of the movie really well, with distorted voices and intense tones only adding to the despair of the characters. I will say though that on a few occasions I found the score to be slightly overbearing and I would love to watch this movie with no sound except for voices and relevant sound effects. Maybe it’d be worse, but I would like to experience it regardless.

Alas, Gravity is not perfect and while I echo the sentiment that it is very much about the experience, some areas did grate on me. I felt the plot and a lot of the dialogue were serviceable enough to move everything along but they aren’t much more than that and there are some really out of place one liners and contrived scenes – Dr. Stone’s hallucination/dream being an example, possibly my least favourite scene – that only serve to move the plot forward as quickly as possible, no matter how little sense they make. For large segments, Gravity is basically ‘everything that could possibly go wrong does: in space edition’. While I don’t necessarily have a problem with that as it leads to some great scenes, the overall story is really nothing to write home about and that certainly felt a bit disappointing when compared to some of Cuaron’s previous work.

I know people like to shit on Sandra Bullock and all, but I think she carried long sections of the movie admirably and generally puts in a pretty convincing portrayal of someone being put through the wringer. I, like a lot of other people, was skeptical about the casting and honestly I still am; I think a lesser known actor/actress duo could have really done wonders, but I understand why they casted the big names and think the movie is no worse off because of it.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gravity, it’s a hell of a ride and takes a rightful place as one of my favourites from 2013.

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