Alfonso Cuaron’s latest blockbuster, Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is making space waves. I had to write this article as soon as I got home from the theater. It was that good. Why is it different from every other sci-fi action thriller? Maybe it was Bullock’s performance. Maybe it was the gripping suspense. Maybe it was the amazing visuals. Whatever it was, it worked. There was not a dull moment in the film.
First of all, 90% of the film takes place in space. That in itself is remarkable. Cuaron whisks the audience away to the unknown, and the mystery of that frontier made it that much more intense. Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, is thrown into every bad situation possible. The space takes into effect from a filmmaker’s perspective in a very subtle way. There are barely any audible sound effects: There is no sound in space. This lack of atmosphere (no pun intended) is one of the reasons why this movie makes you sit on the edge of your seat, unblinking eyes glued to the screen, knuckles pressed white against whatever is in range to grasp.
Don’t even get me started on the visuals. Of course, because it’s in space, it can’t very well be shot practically, so the majority of the movie is visual and special effects. Just watching how the zero gravity affects the different elements is entertaining in itself, but the jaw-dropping shots of the sun “rising” behind the curvature of Earth’s horizon, the clouds sweeping across the planet, and the stunning CG shots of the shuttle and ISS in orbit.
Speaking of shots, it was unique to most modern American films. The cutting was prolonged, keeping on longer shot lengths. But the pacing didn’t seem that way in the movie, probably because the story was so damn good. There were also an incredible amount of POV shots, which really allowed you to feel Dr. Stone’s fear, and what it would be like floating through a space station.
But I digress. This is an incredible piece of modern cinema. I constantly found myself not blinking, holding too tightly to the armrest, which doesn’t happen to me very often in the movies as of late. If Cuaron doesn’t get an Oscar nod for Best Director at least, I may well have lost all faith in the Academy members. As if I don’t already think the Oscars are complete bull. But I’ll save that for another post.
So, if you’re on the fence about seeing Gravity or think it’s “just another overblown summer blockbuster,” see it. See it, see it, see it. See it again. I am honestly at a loss for words, and I feel like this post could have been a lot better if I wasn’t writing it at one in the morning.