Critic’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Paul Sharma. Opens Fri., Oct. 4 at area theaters.
It’s earthrise, as the Hubble telescope drifts into view. Although sound doesn’t carry in space, the astronauts of the shuttle Explorer are chattering away with their colleagues down in Houston. As neophyte space traveler Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) struggles to install her new components on the vaunted space telescope, Mission Commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is hot-dogging around with a new jetpack to test, passing his compliments onto the boys in Engineering.
As Mission Specialist Shariff (Paul Sharma) finishes his task and does a victory spacedance, Kowalski heads over to lend the good Dr. Stone a hand. Maybe to give her some help, maybe just to offer the timid first-timer some much-needed reassurance. Whatever the reason, it’s about as meaningless as a bumper sticker on a solid rocket booster. Houston reports that the debris from the Russians bringing down a satellite with a missile has caused a chain reaction. This debris — previously declared harmless by the boys on the ground — has effectively turned itself and other satellites into a field of orbiting missiles heading straight for Explorer.
Impact is imminent, as the spacewalking astronauts scramble to get back inside the ship. Stone is set adrift in the vacuum of space; while alone is generally her favorite place to be, what will become of her as she floats in the cold, silent emptiness?
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity is tightly written and offers gripping suspense. Cuarón penned it with his son, Jonás, with whom he also worked on Year of the Nail. Conceptually, it’s fairly original as far as sci-fi and thriller fare goes. It’s a journey of self-discovery in the face of the void. It manages to keep the suspense sustained without strangling you with anxious uncertainty.
The visuals are stunning; equally impressive is the cinematography, as the filmmakers make use of the entire screen. Just pretend I went on my usual rant about the 3D glasses not fitting on my face due to the existing frames of my nerdy specs. This is one film in which the 3D was used with restraint, something I genuinely appreciate. It’s also one of the few instances I think 3D has actually added to a movie instead of serving as a distraction (read: Wrath of the Titans).
Clooney seems tailor-made for the wiseass space cowboy being put out to pasture; his character may be goofy but he also has as much steel in his spine as he does on his scalp. All business and cool as a cucumber but with charm and panache, aka the “George Clooney Special.” It’s interesting to think that Robert Downey Jr. had originally signed on for the Kowalski role; last we heard, he was reportedly done zipping around the sky in all things rocket-powered.
Sandra Bullock’s legs are equally impressive in the lead role. Her legs bring life and genuine fear to the meek and cute lab-rat doctor. Bullock’s legs are adorable with the Sally-Ride-with-a-pixie-cut look she has going. And Bullock really toned up for the role too, because her legs look amazing. Overall, an impressive performance by Sandra Bullock’s legs.
Gravity is an out-of-this-world thriller that will draw you in without letting you down.