Thursday, October 10, 2013



Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Written by Alfonso & Jonas Cuaron

     Alfonso Cuaron's space epic Gravity is all it appears to be and is one of the most technically amazing films ever made. It is a movie that demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible with the ultimate sound. The film is daring and one of the most intense action films ever made, not to mention a true horror film as well. Cuaron and his director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki have created shots that cause your nails to almost break into the arms of the theatre seats. Blinking is almost absent from one suspenseful scene to the next and even though the film may lack a little bit of emotional relevance to the world we live in, not much though, it is still a movie for movie lovers. A film that has its metaphors, strengths, some weaknesses, but ultimately is easily one of the best films of the year and one of the greatest space/sci-fi films ever made. Cuaron has made a film unlike no other.
     The film begins with words across the screen stating that it is impossible to live and survive in space. Right away we know that this is going to be journey of survival, human strength and intelligence. A space shuttle is slowly moved in upon and we witness three astronauts on a space walk. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran on his last mission, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first mission and Shariff (Paul Sharma), who is working as the other two are on the shuttle. Kowalski tries to keep the highly nervous Stone calm and at ease while mission control, voiced by Ed Harris, notifies the three that a Russian satellite was intentionally destroyed and the unintended debris is heading their way. The three are in a rush for their lives.
     Shariff is killed. Stone and Kowalski are separated and all Stone has to calm her down is Kowalski's voice, but eventually they tether together in a fascinating, complicated rush. They make it to the International Space Station only to encounter another round of debris going at thousands and thousands of miles per hour. Kowalski realizes they must separate, especially since Stone is running low on oxygen and Kowalski is pulling Stone with him as they are tangled on the space station's hoses. She is terrified and Bullock expresses with a continuous series of "aahhs" and "no's", but ultimately Kowalski detaches her and Stone has to find a way to survive. The film is a harrowing thrill-ride that is all about the wonders of technology, cinema and the will to stay alive.
     The rush that you feel while seeing the peril that is about to happen to Stone is like nothing I have ever seen in my life on screen. Shrapnel from the satellite comes flying in and, if seeing in 3D, right into your face. The booming, growing score by Steven Price is almost a starting gun for the emotional turmoil and suspenseful thrill that is about to happen in each devastating scene. I can honestly say that within that first thirteen minute continuous shot, without one visible edit, is absolutely breathtaking and completely gripping. The scenes become more harrowing and suspenseful as the film continues its ninety minute roller coaster, but it sold me right away. The loops, spins and breathtaking use of CGI is so seamless and pinpoint. This is the way CGI should be used and how it should be used.
     Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography is as good as ever. Never falling at any point and the only wonder I have is how much of the film is CGI and how much is actual shots. Nevertheless, his camera work and use of lighting is some of the best you will ever see and sure to finally get him his much overdue Oscar. The CGI, which took over two years and the film close to four years to complete, is well worth the wait. The beauty of seeing these astronauts float in space and seeing different parts of the globe is mesmerizing. It is like seeing a Discovery Channel documentary. The clarity is perfect and the visuals are completely astonishing.
    Alfonso Cuaron's direction and creativity is unparalleled throughout Gravity. He wrote the film with his son Jonas and what a treat it is to see it on the big screen. He has crafted one of the greatest space films of all-time and has come close to the masterpiece that is Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film is a film for film lovers and enthusiats. It is a film that demands to be seen at the theater. I think, just because I find wearing the 3D glasses annoying since I have to wear them over my regular glasses, I would rather see it in 2D. The 3D is good and not stupid looking, but the graphics are sensational. The suspense is completely gripping and eye-popping. Cuaron has entertained some concepts of evolution and rebirth throughout his film, but those can be up to different interpretations, especially in the final scene. I will not spoil that for the audience. I do wonder what Kubrick would think of this film though. It was of the most technically amazing pieces of cinema I have ever seen.
    Clooney's role is somewhat small in the film, but he does bring it home throughout. Good humor, even if a little corny at times. The real wonder and beauty, outside of the technical wonder of creativity by all involved, is Sandra Bullock. Although Bullock does go through a phase at the beginning where all she seems to be saying is "ah" and "no" and "I can't breathe" that becomes a tiny bit annoying, she still is rock solid in her performance. This has to be one of the more physically demanding roles she, or any actor, has ever been challenged with and she delivers with confidence and warmth. Her spirit is tested, it seems like, every ten minutes as she runs into one challenge after another. Bullock is solid throughout the film and it is one of her finest moments as an actress. Definitely Oscar worthy.
     The score by Steven Price is a thing of beauty. Booming, slow build that brings home the emotional impact of what is occurring on screen. One minor problem and I might be knit picking too much, is that every time Stone was about to be in intense danger, his score is brought up and sets the tone. It is a beautiful crafted score, but I felt it would have been nice to have some of the scenes just be led into suspense by looks and gestures from Bullock. I am not saying I did not like it because it is amazing and a piece of genius, but it was over used a little.
     Gravity is about the struggles of humankind and the fact that space is something humans are not meant to survive in. I believe Cuaron tried to come through with notices that no matter how much technology we posses, it means little when you are in an environment not suited for human life and existence. In contrast, it focuses on the will and strength of human character to survive. To find anyway possible to get back home and not give up and die. I am not saying you do not need the technology to survive, because without it, it would be definitely impossible, but you have to have the power to not give it all up and keep fighting for survival. No matter how hard or drastic the situation, you have to fight on and find a way to survive the perils of life. Even if you are 600 plus kilometers above Earth and in the clutches of space.
     Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity was my most anticipated film of the year and what seems like the last four years, and he did not disappoint. A marvel of the possibilities of cinema and a film that is for all fans of the movies. A space/sci-fi/horror masterpiece of undeniable vision and talent. A thriller unlike anything made all year and one that will keep you clutching your seat for the duration of its ninety minute run time. Another marvel for the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and a top notch performance from Sandra Bullock. I cannot praise this film enough. I have never seen anything like it and cannot wait to see it again. Thank you Cuaron for crafting a film of such amazing creativity and one of the most visually astonishing films ever made.

Photo credits by IMDB.

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