Thursday 7 November 2013

Cinema Review - Gravity

Alfonso Cuaron has taken film-making to the next level; Gravity is a breathtaking masterpiece that will inevitably stand the test of time as one of the most awe-inspiring science-fiction films ever committed to celluloid. Comparisons to Kubrick’s 2001 are well founded, even if a little misleading, as Cuaron’s space odyssey doesn’t just completely reinvent the genre but delivers a multitude of nerve-wracking sequences that leave the audience as breathless and emotionally drained as the two astronauts gasping for oxygen and longing for their feet to touch the ground.

Sandra Bullock is exceptional as panic-stricken astronaut, Ryan Stone, who becomes detached from her ship during a routine spacewalk, and the unfolding events ratchet the tension up to breaking point as Matt Kowalski (Clooney) attempts to bring her to safety and a nearby catastrophe rapidly begins to spiral out of control. Both actors have had their inconsistencies throughout the years but Bullock’s stellar performance as a fearful yet strong woman and Clooney’s calm and well grounded (for a man in space) character are a perfect combination of innocence and experience that provide a surprising emotional heft to this very unique disaster movie.

As Stone struggles to survive against seemingly impossible odds, subtle changes in her approach to survival mirror the character arc of Ripley in Alien; she begins to confront impending danger with a hitherto unknown inner strength and will seemingly stop at nothing even when safety is far out of reach. Kowalski is far more pragmatic about their situation, quickly realising that any chance of rescue is fading fast and spending just as much time enjoying the stunning vistas of outer space as working out a way to head home. You can almost forgive Kowalski’s lackadaisical approach to their situation as it is inevitable that your attention will also wander towards the spellbinding celestial views more than once during the course of the film.

Even though only two characters share screentime, as soon as the first explosion hits the threat of danger never lets up, and Cuaron finds plausible and exciting methods of driving the story forward - which is no mean feat considering the drastically limited options available to a film-maker setting a film in outer space. The immersive 3D visuals and spectacular sound design pull you into a world fraught with danger that is so beautifully realised it is bound to leave you completely speechless. Space may be incredibly dangerous but it is also visually stunning and the precision of Cuaron’s camerawork clearly demonstrates an auteur who is not just seeking to push the boundaries of film but to capture an unforgettable experience that will astound audiences with its sheer audacity.

One of the most difficult aspects of reviewing films is managing the audience's expectations; I know first-hand how damaging it can be when critics are overzealous with their praise only for the film in question to underwhelm, and more often than not choose to avoid reading reviews before viewing a film for this exact reason. That being said, some films undoubtedly leave an indelible impression on all who behold them, and in this instance, I have to agree with every single critic who heaps praise on Gravity as words cannot justify how incredible Cuaron’s latest film really is.

This is the first time in over three years of writing reviews that I have ever given a five star review, and I sincerely doubt that there will be a better film released this year, or even the next. I cannot wait to experience Gravity again, only this time around in the comfort of an IMAX cinema. Unmissable.


If you liked Gravity you will also enjoy these:

2001: A Space Odyssey

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