After seven years away, visionary director Alfonso Cuarón returns with a new film: Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock as a medical engineer stranded in space. So is the film worth your time (and money)? In short: this film is a strong case for the continued existence of movie theaters and 3D.
Let’s bitch it out…I debated whether or not to write a review for Gravity because I wasn’t really sure what to say. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a film that’s this immersive, but I recognize that it’s also “content light” in that the plot can be summed up very, very briefly. In a nutshell this is a not a film that’s about a story. Sure – things happen, but the plot is much less important than your average film. Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban) is more interested in showing and feeling than simply telling. He wants us to experience – and fear – what is feels like to be lost in space.
The film opens with a statement about the ravages of space, ending with a line that life in space is impossible. The following 90 minutes are a testament to this statement as we follow Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone desperately try to survive after a Russian satellite explodes, causing a chain reaction that leaves her stranded in space. That’s it. That’s the film: Bullock tries to survive and somehow make her way back to earth. It sounds padded, it sounds dull, it doesn’t sound worthy of expensive theater tickets or 3D surcharges.
But it is.
Everything about this film is sensory. For the first time in a very long time (possibly ever), 3D is an integral part of the movie. It’s not a gimmick. This is film that you absolutely must see in 3D, preferably on the biggest screen possible. At this point there are plenty of stories about the unconventional way that Cuarón shot the film and the new technologies that were required to bring his vision to life, including suspending Bullock and co-star George Clooney in a contraption called ‘The Cage’ that allows 360 degree filming and plenty of CGI. But this isn’t like other films with heavily fabricated worlds – Gravity feels real, terrifyingly real, so much so that as an audience we’re right there with Stone in space, spinning, twisting, and surviving. Some critics have equated the experience to a horror film, filled with sequences the drive you to the edge of your seat and make you queasy with nausea. It’s a completely emotive experience that words can’t do justice to.
Normally I would say that it’s cliché to suggest that a film must be experienced in theaters. After seeing trailers and clips on news shows, it’s clear that Gravity will not play as well at home, no matter what size screen or home theater system you have. If you limit the number of films you see in the theater and you’re even remotely considering seeing this one at some point, I would strongly encourage you to make the trip for this one. It’s a game-changer.
Gravity is now playing in theaters