Gravity Review


Ever since Georges Méliès’ silent 1902 film, A Trip To The Moon, space has always proved fertile ground for filmmakers.

It was the stage for Kubrick’s Odyssey, and the stars themselves have since served as the background to multiple Wars and Treks.

Big hitters such as Ridley Scott, James Cameron and Ron Howard have all tackled the subject with blockbusting budgets, whilst the likes of Danny Boyle, Joss Whedon and Duncan Jones have more recently viewed the stars through an arguably more Indie lens.

Everyone from Charlton Heston to Clint Eastwood has space-suited up at some point in their career.

Indeed leading man du jour, George Clooney, has already ticked the space box with Solaris.

So what can Gravity bring to the galactic table that we haven’t seen before?

The answer is a lot.

It’s a cliché, but Gravity truly is one of those films that grabs you from the first second and doesn’t let go until the final credits roll.

And the dizzying opening shot is the kind that makes 3D sceptics like me finally feel like this format can be justified.

Said shot opens on a trio of astronauts toiling away on a space telescope high above earth, among them a wisecracking Clooney as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, and an anxious Sandra Bullock as Dr Ryan Stone.

Disaster, quite literally strikes our heroes, in the form of high-speed space debris.

In a slight throwback to cold war propaganda, the culprits happen to be those pesky Ruskies with the ensuing impact marooning Clooney and Bullock from their ship.

Think of Open Water, only with orbiting shrapnel fragments instead of sharks.

Suffice to say, Kowalski and Stone’s troubles have only just begun.

As per his earlier works, such as the excellent Children Of Men, director Alfonso Cuarón utilises elaborately-planned long takes and sudden point-of-view shots to skilfully ramp up the tension and keep the viewer firmly in the shoes, or space-boots, of the protagonists.

Clooney, as you would expect, oozes charisma with an underlying current of unease, delivering the necessary comic relief at the perfect moments.

But Bullock is the real revelation here, and I say that a non-Bullock fan.

From her opening scene, she conveys the kind of barely-constrained panic that gives an audience someone to identify with.

And Bullock’s equally plausible as an expert at the top of her game, albeit in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A slightly mawkish sub-plot involving her character’s daughter almost detracts from proceedings, playing out like an X-Factor contestant’s sob story.

But everything else is so good, you’ll easily forgive this.

Last but by no means least are the visuals, which are so good I’ll say it twice.

The seamless merging of cinematography and special effects results in the closest experience to floating in space that I’ll ever have.

Gravity may not be the kind of film that’ll have you queuing for an application form down at your local NASA office, but it’ll definitely have folk queuing for tickets at their local IMAX.

Again and again.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

November 2013