Genres / Traits:
Psychological Sci-Fi, Science Fiction,
Dr. Ryan Stone is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone - tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness.
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Way back in kindergarten, I decided, like any other five year old, that I wanted to be an astronaut. That dream held until my senior year in high school when I learned that wasn't an option for me due to my horrible eyesight. Still, I never lost interest, and Gravity immediately caught my eye. Now while I normally avoid spoilers as much as possible, there's some pretty drastic twists that the trailers don't tell you about relatively early on, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, you might want to skip this review.
Review by Crispy
Added: March 29, 2014
Medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone has had a recent breakthrough and since NASA doesn't trust anyone else to install the technology on Hubble, she's found herself on her first space mission. She's none to happy about life with no gravity, but fortunately, the mission is being led by veteran Matt Kowalksi; in fact, it's the final mission of his long career. As she's installing the new components, and fighting to keep her lunch down, Mission Controls informs them that Russia has launched a missile at one of their satellites, sending a cloud of high-speed shrapnel in their direction. Stone and Kowalski are barely able to dodge the debris, but neither their crew or their ship were so lucky. With communications dead and oxygen running low, they set off for the nearby International Space Station, but while Stone was able to dock, Kowalski is left drifting off into space. Now on her own, Stone has to find a way to get back to Earth before that deadly cloud orbits the planet and makes its way back to her.
With radio and colleagues dead, Dr. Stone is literally the single character we're watching for the majority of the running time. Sandra Bullock's Academy Award nomination for this movie should be enough to let you know if she was up to the challenge. A rookie dealing with a situation that would tax a seasoned veteran is a time-tested recipe for dramatic viewing, and when you add in that Dr. Stone is a broken spirit from the death of her child, it takes things to a new level. Bullock handles her character's plight, along with both its highs and lows, perfectly. Which is good, because while all of this about debris clouds and spacewalks is important, it's actually more a part of the setting than the plot. You see, the true story isn't the predicament she's in, but rather how Dr. Stone uses this predicament to regain her will to live and finally heal after such a traumatic loss. Still, I wish Cuarón had let Bullock shoulder the weight of her story and didn't try and force the symbolism so hard. For example, when Stone enters the ISS, she immediately curls into the fetal position and passes out with a conveniently placed tube nearby that looks like an umbilical tube. Yeah we get it, this is her rebirth. Calm down a bit.
Let's take a look at the Academy Awards Gravity won as it was raking them in. Best Director. Best Sound Editing. Best Sound Mixing. Best Cinematography. Best Visual Effects. Best Original Musical Score. Best Film Editing. If you'll notice, those are pretty much all aesthetic categories, and it's a testament to just how good this movie looks. The long-panning point-of-view shots he used were among my personal favorite, and did wonders for the immersion factor. Plus, the word from the industry is that he pretty much hit zero gravity on the head. Believe it or not, the inconsistencies that have been pointed out have actually all been relatively minor. Things like how Dr. Stone isn't wearing proper insulation in her spacesuit (in the interest of Sandra Bullock floating around in bike shorts for the whole movie, I'll agree that this was a necessary evil) or that the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station never get that close together. Cuarón always admitted that some minor details were going to be fudged in order to tell the story, but in a world as overrun in mystery and myth as operating in zero G, the fact that he nailed it as well as he did is downright admirable.
So we've got a killer performance in a movie that looks amazing. Instant 10/10 right? Not quite. You see, the problem lies in the story, or rather, the lack thereof. Like I said before, the real theme is Dr. Stone's rebirth, and while Sandra Bullock handles that beautifully and it does carry the film through the running time, it doesn't change the fact that we quickly settle into a routine of Crisis-Stone Averts Crisis-Stone Catches Her Breath-Repeat. Making matters even worse is that those crises stretch suspension-of-disbelief just a bit too thin. More than once, her various ships take way more abuse than the viewers are able to believe, and frankly, she should have been sucked into space about five times throughout her ordeal. Again, the focus on Stone herself makes this a bit more forgivable, but it's certainly distracting.
So there you go. It's an OK movie with a great lead actress and amazing effects. It's definitely worth seeing, but I'm not entirely sure if it warrants a spot on the DVD shelf. 7/10.
- added 04/04/2014, 12:32 AM
I bought the 3D blu ray because I was able to get
it half price (all three Transformer movies and
Gravity 3 disc set for $40 whew hew) I had no idea
what I was about to see, and I didn't think it was
going to enjoy it. Like you I figured I'd watch it
once and be done with it.
This is one
movie that needed to be seen in the theatre. We
have a home theatre (7.5' x 4.5') and this movie
was absolutely incredible especially in 3D. My jaw
was dropped through most of this picture.
Bullock's performance deserved the Academy
Award. I saw Blue Jasmine and it did not hold a
candle to Bullock. Under the proper circumstances
(screen size) this would be a movie you would
watch again and again. It's a stunning motion
Unlike the fucking
Wolf of Wall Street. I thought every aspect of
this was great. But, 3 fucking hours on a piece of
shit's life is not my idea of a pleasant viewing