Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 31 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Intense Perilous Sequences, some Disturbing Images and brief Strong Language
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Written by: Alfonso Cuaron & Jonas Cuaron
Starring: Sandra Bullock & George Clooney
Little under two months ago, I said that I wouldn’t be surprised if PRISONERS wound up being my favorite film of 2013. Having seen GRAVITY, I’ll now say that PRISONERS has some tough competition. GRAVITY is unlike anything you’ve ever seen on film before. Think carefully about how long films have existed and now, tell me you’re not the slightest bit intrigued. I was entranced from the beautiful opening shot to the intense finale. It’s a wondrous work of art, plain and simple.
The plot follows Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski in the vast endless universe that is space. Their shuttle is hit by debris and winds up in pieces. Suddenly, the two sole survivors of a crew (that began with five) find themselves floating in the starry skies that were once so amazing to behold. The situation is dire, as their suits are running out of oxygen and the two must use every single resource available (not many, to be honest) to find a way to make it back to Earth (if they don’t fry re-entering the atmosphere). A task that becomes more dangerous as the debris is constantly circling around the earth.
Though most of the sets were mainly composed of green screen effects, GRAVITY looks absolutely astonishing and feels real. In one moment, I was gripping the sides of my armrests and in the next, I was getting teary-eyed as the exasperated Ryan was finding her every effort to survive this ordeal becoming more difficult. George Clooney is a guy who cares about films as art, despite what some of his projects have shown (he is still ashamed of BATMAN & ROBIN to this day). He’s instantly likable as Matt Kowalski and does everything in his power to keep the two of them alive. He also frequently reassures Ryan that they’ll be okay.
The real star of the film is Sandra Bullock though. She gives the best performance of her career and I will be surprised if it doesn’t garner her any nominations come awards season. I’m sure that there are some scientific mistakes that certain people will be more than happy to point out to the casual viewer. However, there was only one I noticed enough to annoy me and it was explained in a solid way. Films can be amazing, mind-blowing pieces of entertainment as well as stunning pieces of art. GRAVITY does both perfectly.
Even though some bits of dialogue are given revealing more about a past tragedy in Ryan’s life, the film never once leaves the sides of the characters. We don’t get cheap flashbacks or scenes showing a devastated NASA group trying to figure out if anybody has survived the debris. Instead, we stay with the characters and it makes for an even more intense film, especially after one heartbreaking scene in particular.
Director/co-writer Alfonso Cuaron paints a story with the biggest canvas ever: outer space. The sets (or lack thereof) make for an adventure that you’re not likely to ever forget. Boasted with two amazing performances and top-notch special effects, GRAVITY never once cheats the viewer on anything. It doesn’t run at a real-time pace, but you’ll find yourself tensing up all the way through. My arms were sore after seeing the movie from all the times that I clenched up. It’s an thrill-ride, but a beautiful and astounding one at that. As much as the word is overused, it applies to this film. GRAVITY is an epic masterpiece!