“Gravity” (2013) Review
Looking back, the last time I had been anticipating a movie as much as “Gravity” was probably almost a year and a half ago with “The Dark Knight Rises”. Between being a big sci-fi fan, having read reviews about the great visual presentation, and knowing Alfonso Cuaron (director of one of my favorite films, “Children of Men”) was directing, I don’t know how much higher my expectations could have been going into the theater. Despite these massive expectations, I was not ready for what I got with “Gravity” – a film that is a ground-breaking cinema experience and one of the best films I have seen in a long time.
While it’s easy to start by talking about the visual feast in “Gravity”, it is better to start by saying that “Gravity” is about more than just good looks… It is a film about survival. Space is a lonely and dangerous environment, one where Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) and Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) find themselves trying to survive in after debris destroys their space shuttle. Outside of a few opening scenes, this is the main overarching plot of the film – two astronauts trying to find a way back to Earth. This may sound like a shallow plot, but Alfonso Cuaron has developed a lot of depth within such a seemingly narrow framework. Conversations between Kowalsky and Stone are well-written, and reveal a nice depth of character that connects the viewer to the film’s main characters. This, in turn, makes each twist the film takes more impactful, leaving you wondering what will happen next.
Story aside, the most awe-inspiring part of the film is easily the overall presentation. Sure, I heard the visuals were amazing and broke new ground for the cinema world. However, “Gravity” doesn’t seem to be content with raising the bar for visuals in a film – it wants to create a new idea of what you can expect from a film. From the zero gravity physics, to beautiful shots of space and Earth, to the incredible detail in the debris, “Gravity” is a sight to behold. I can easily say that it is the best looking film I have ever seen, hands down. Even with the major effects and visuals, what really pushes it to another level entirely is the little things. There is a striking attention to detail present in every single scene that makes every piece of the film feel as realistic as possible. In the words of George Clooney’s Matt Kowlasky, you really “can’t beat the view”.
Speaking of visuals, it is necessary for me to touch on the 3D effects in the film. As you know, I have felt that 3D film-making was more a gimmick than anything, never adding anything to a film – at best you get a few interesting touches, at worst it takes away from the experience with poor use of background blurring and effects that make each quick camera movement jarring. In “Gravity”, however, the 3D is spot on, and enhances the visual experience enough that I would highly recommend seeing the film in 3D over 2D. Between these 3D effects and the overall visual presentation, “Gravity” is an incredible film that must be seen in theaters at least once.
Further adding to my praise for the film is its sound design. The soundtrack itself is perfectly ambient and unsettling at times, fitting right in with the challenges faced in and emptiness of space. Also, the clever use of volume and suppressed noises and music to mimic the vacuum of sound in space is a nice touch that draws the viewer into the setting. In particular, I have to give credit to the opening credits and scene, where the aforementioned items start the film nicely.
Lastly, it is necessary to give mention to both Clooney and Bullock for their roles in the film. Both play their parts wonderfully, with Bullock in particular turning in a tremendous performance as Dr. Ryan Stone. When you are tasked with being the only two characters on-screen for basically the entire film, you need to be able to turn in a special performance. This is exactly what Clooney and Bullock have done, and through Cuaron’s direction, the character interactions become entirely natural and the audience quickly connects with the two on-screen.
“Gravity” is not just good looks. It is a complete package. It has been a long time since I can remember leaving a film in awe, but “Gravity” did just that for me. It is a complete package – from visuals and sound, to plot and acting, “Gravity” is about as perfectly executed as they come. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy one of the most incredible experiences you can see in a theater, or even wait for it to come out on DVD/Blu-Ray. Do yourself a favor and experience “Gravity” in theaters, the way it is meant to be seen. You will not be sorry.
Final Score: 10/10