Warner Bros. sure has a bunch of the leading filmmakers working for them at the moment and they all seem to be performing at the top of their game. Zack Snyder has finally managed to reboot Superman with Man of Steel. Guillermo del Toro provided one of the best American kaiju movies with Pacific Rim (at least until Gareth Edwards delivers the new Godzilla next year). Now they’ve got Alfonso Cuarón making good on the mind-blowing feat of almost an entire film set in zero gravity and in one of the best uses of 3D possibly ever with his appropriately titled film, Gravity.
Medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are up above the world so high, working on a space station orbiting Earth. While another comrade is in the background floating around, Matt is making sure he keeps Ryan’s nerves under control. This is her first trip to space for NASA and she’s more than a little out of her element, while Matt is on his farewell mission. When Mission Control (voice of Ed Harris) informs them that the Russians have launched a missile strike against one of their own satellites, all hell breaks loose as debris wipes out their station and Ryan is sent spiraling out into the vast emptiness of space. Now, Matt must find her using his jet pack and rescue them both after they find the other astronaut with a hole through his head. With Ryan’s oxygen running out, it’s a race against time to find another station for safety.
The best way to describe Gravity would be to call it 127 Hours: A Space Odyssey. Cuaron’s visuals should get that Oscar now, along with the sound design. As characters float around the screen, their voices are heard hovering around the entire theater with nothing more than whatever they’re hearing inside their suit. Considering all of the action takes place literally in space, there’s also no real sound whenever something happens to be dismantling right around the terrified Bullock. Our only real source of sound is the spectacular score composed by Steven Price. While I may have declared Insidious: Chapter 2 the year’s hands down scariest film, Gravity is a whole different kind of scary. What’s not terrifying about being lost in space with an oxygen tank running low? Not to mention that having just reviewed the 3D Blu-ray Space Junk, the horror rings true because this is exactly the kind of danger the documentary warned of.
Gravity’s visuals are even better than Life of Pi and seeing how that film can be nominated for Best Picture, then Gravity is a guaranteed shoe-in. Running a scant 91 minutes, Gravity packs more visual gravitas, characterization, and emotion than most films could ever dream. This is the kind of film where Bullock reminds us why she deserves an Oscar—just not for The Blind Side. Be sure to take some Dramamine if you have any issues with motion sickness. What theaters should do is issue oxygen masks upon entry, because you’re going to need it. By the time Gravity is over, you won’t have much of an adrenal gland left. Also be sure to see it in IMAX 3D. My screening was not, but I intend to see it again on the biggest, brightest 3D screen imaginable. Gravity is one of the best films of the year, and it’s going to take a huge feat to knock this one out of orbit.
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