The number one fad I hate in movies nowadays in 3D. Yes, more than the endless flow of sequels and remakes we don’t need. Yes, even more than whatever crap Adam Sandler puts out. 3D has always felt like a cop-out to me. It’s a studio-driven decision to hike up ticket prices and frankly, in my experience, it’s always lessened the experience of watching the film. But midway through “Gravity”, when I still remained on the edge of my seat as I had since the opening shot (a fifteen minute long, artfully crafted masterpiece) and the goosebumps still plagued my arms, as debris flew across the screen, I flinched. Because through my 3D glasses, for the first time, I actually felt like something was flying out at me. And it scared the crap out of me. “Gravity”, the new film from “Children Of Men” director Alfonso Cuaron follows the dramatic efforts of two astronauts separated from their shuttle to return to Earth before they float away into space, never to be seen or found again.
“Gravity” rests entirely on the shoulders of its two leads. Without them, and the human emotion they bring to their roles, the film would be a soulless, albeit beautiful, special effects romp. Luckily, Alfonso Cuaron smartly casted two incredible, A-list actors to get the job done. First, George Clooney is his usual, incredibly charming self, something we haven’t seen lately, considering the last time we really saw him was in the beautiful but tragic “The Descendants”. Here, Clooney is as smooth and suave as ever, and at times, lightens up a rather eerie, heavy film with a certain grace that would be hard for a normal actor and a normal director to make feel tonally consistent. Fortunately, the talent across the board, in front of the camera and behind it, is more than normal. It’s extraordinary. However, no matter how good Clooney is, this is Sandra Bullock’s film. She’s a remarkably emotional powerhouse here, rivaling Ryan Reynold’s brilliant (and underseen) performance in the similar claustrophobic survival film, “Buried”. Bullock brings a tragic weariness to her character that’s instantly sympathetic and provides some of the most heart-wrenching moments of the year, particularly throughout the entire act, which had me covered in goosebumps and ready to let the tears flow (Fruitvale Station-style) just because of how beautifully sad and wonderful her performance was. Bullock is definitely deserving of a second Oscar nomination for this one, and this is undoubtedly her best work to date.
I was having a conversation with someone prior to seeing “Gravity”, someone who claimed it’d be hard to make an hour and a half solely about trying to survive whilst isolated in space interesting. Just from sheer anticipation and love for the director’s previous film “Children Of Men”, I said that if any film could do it and do it well, it’d be this one. Let’s just say this: I love when I’m right. “Gravity” is a tour de force of intensity and emotion that nothing this year or in the past several years has quite rivaled. From the first ten minutes, you’re sent to the edge of your seat and the film, even in the moments where debris isn’t flying at you, doesn’t let go of the tension till the final credits roll. The looming, eerie sense of danger is incredibly engrossing and Cuaron has found a beautiful way to make space the most visually incredible yet terrifying thing ever. The film keeps up the tension, but never loses sight of the emotion either. For every sequence of debris flying and hitting our heroes and their shuttle, there’s always an underlying, yet prominent, layer of emotion to it all. There’s actually some beautifully poignant, incredibly heart wrenching moments near the third act that can easily be considered some of the most emotional stuff of the year.
But “Gravity” isn’t just emotional. It’s thrilling all the way through. This is a feat, and it’s really quite hard to put into words just how much of a feat it is. This film is a technical marvel, one that not only transcends all previous boundaries set by special effects films of the past years, but also one that is beautifully shot and done in 3D in a way that this film isn’t just good in 3D, it’s absolutely a necessity that you see this film in 3D. On as large a screen as possible. On as loud a sound system as possible.
When it comes time for Oscar talks, and believe it or not, that time is coming, I have no doubt “Gravity” will be on a lot of lists. Given the track record for science-fiction films at the Oscars, it’s hard to say whether one of those lists will be Best Picture and Best Director. But it certainly deserves to be up there, even as a frontrunner. Oscars or no Oscars though, people will be talking about “Gravity” for a long time to come. But not until after they get over the shock of watching it.
FINAL GRADE: 10/10
FINAL SAY: “Gravity” is a visually stunning, masterfully directed, beautifully acted rollercoaster ride that is as remarkably intense, thrilling, and exciting as it is devastatingly emotional.