13 November 2013
The film is essentially a two-hander, between Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, which takes place following a disastrous maintenance mission on the Hubble Space Telescope. Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a specialist who only has six months' space training under her belt, and the support of Clooney's more experienced astronaut, when the two of them are left spinning around in orbit of the Earth. With oxygen running low, and every option of escape becoming more and more remote, how can they possibly survive?
I was recently staggered to learn that films like Flight and The Grey, with their intense airborne disaster sequences, are included in in-flight movie packages on some airlines. It has also made me wonder if Gravity will feature, once Richard Branson gets that commercial space airline going. It wouldn't particularly concern me, because from the opening statement- "life in space is impossible"- this film had me convinced that I never need to leave this planet. Space can go and get fucked, as far as I'm concerned.
While Bullock has never been in a film like this before, (though it's tough to think of another film quite like this) she's on world-beating form, every line of dialogue and panicked breath building her character to where you easily forget her as a romcom darling. Clooney is only slightly more acquainted with this territory, if you remember Steven Soderbergh's remake of Solaris, but his usual leading man status lends to a powerful turn in his talky supporting role too- the fact that he's more likely to be a Buzz Lightyear than a helpless astronaut works to reassure and confound the audience's expectations in turn.
Elsewhere, the film unequivocally meets the hype concerning its visuals. Space sure is pretty, even if you wouldn't want to live there. Like last year's Life Of Pi, this is the surefire winner of every Best Visual Effects award from here to Oscar time, full of dazzling visual innovations, which leave you gasping with that old, all-too-uncommon feeling of "How the hell did they do that?" The film makes cracking use of Cuarón's predilection for tracking shots too, with the virtual environment lending itself to several intensely extended sequences.
The unbroken 17-minute opening sequence has been hotly anticipated by the kind of film fan that gets excited over this sort of thing, and the result is no less potent or impressive than any of the in-camera shots from his Children Of Men. Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography really captures the disorientation and agoraphobia of the scenario throughout the film. There are none of the sound effects that were thrown into the trailer to soup things up, because in context, the visuals are thrilling enough on their own. It's a terrifying and awe-inspiring piece of work, capped off at 90 minutes for maximum efficiency.
Gravity is now showing, in 2D and 3D, at cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Gravity, why not share your comments below? I'm dying to see this one in IMAX, so I'm especially interested to hear from people who've seen it there already.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.