Movie Review: Gravity
- Actor(s): George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
- Title: Gravity
- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Type: Sci-Fi, Thriller
On a night at the box office, when a viewer sits down to watch a film they exhibit one of the highest levels of trust in the unknown. Their experiences, whether enjoyable or downright disasters are ultimately in the hands of a director. However, in his newly released film Gravity, director Alfonso Cuarón begs the question, ‘what happens when the experience is trusted in the hands of the audience?’ Through the insightful use of long takes, stellar CGI, bone chilling sound design, and a powerful performance by Sandra Bullock, Cuarón proceeds to deliver one of the most thrilling, enthralling, and palpable cinema experiences in the twenty first century.
Cuarón's use of long takes has set him apart in a league of his own in modern cinema. His famous stairway "cease-fire" long take in his critically acclaimed Children of Men (2006) was one of the most chilling sequences to date. However, Cuarón has certainly outdone himself in this film. The opening sequence clocks in at just less than twenty minutes. Yes, twenty minutes for an opening shot! This no break, in the face action increases the tension of the film tremendously. Audiences will feel claustrophobic and helpless in this terrifying sequence. This feeling translates well for the film as Cuarón seamlessly weaves in and out of third person and first person perspectives of the experience with impeccable timing and pacing. It's an evolution in modern cinema as Cuarón effortlessly and inconspicuously breaks the fourth wall. The audience is not just a viewer but an integral part of the experience. This is largely helped by the stunning CGI and sound design.
Simply speaking on a technical level, Gravity is an absolute marvel. The CGI, though clearly used, was never over the top or unbelievable. Shot after shot just glistened beautifully across the screen. There are just moments when viewers will literally be picking there jaws up off the ground. It's just that good looking. Furthermore, just as impressive was the sound design and mixing. The common misconception in most modern day space films is that there are sounds in space. This could not be further from the truth. No atmosphere and no air equals no sound. Gravity's sound design not only obeys those laws but expands on them with sounds of only inner suit functions like breathing, vocal communication, and vibrations from suit movement. This detail is ultimately what steers the film in the proper tone and direction. Audiences will literally share the terror and struggle of Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) through her epic journey throughout the film. It's a truly indescribable experience.
Bullock's performance in this film is simply the best of her career. This is no understatement considering her Academy Award winning performance in The Blind Side (2010). Bullock's effortless portrayal of humanity is what truly grounds the experience. She is afraid, she is vulnerable, and it's resoundingly believable. Audiences will cheer and empathize with her as she takes them on her journey through the picture. Assisting her was the film's male lead George Clooney (Commander Kowalski). Clooney was absolutely brilliant on screen as well. Playing as the active voice of reason and guidance for Stone. His presence was incredible and ultimately seemed a bit easy for him. It was truly watching George Clooney be an astronaut. His charm and wit were crucial and served very well for comic relief.
All in all, Alfonso Cuarón delivers one of the wildest rides in the history of cinema. His controlled and meticulous weaving perspectives, jaw dropping CGI and sound design, and strong acting from Bullock and Clooney truly put the audience in a place they have never been. They as viewers are no longer dependent on the director to deliver thrills. Cuarón has evolved the audience into one collective entity, not only watching but unexpectedly hopping in to enjoy the journey for themselves. With this feat, Cuarón has revolutionized modern day cinema and ultimately called into question the past ideologies of the medium itself. In essence, he has created a brand new genre. It was like picking up a joystick and playing along side the protagonist like a video game. Breaking the fourth is no easy task. Cuarón however doesn't just break it, he shatters it, blurring the lines of perspective changes, forever. Audiences will not watch this film. They will live it. This is a must see, a technical marvel, an emotional thriller and thus far, film of the year.
-Review by Josh Thomas