Review: Gravity sends filmmaking benchmarks into outer space

Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” is more than Sandra Bullock and George Clooney drifting aimlessly through space. It doesn’t have the glitzy sets or award winning soundtrack one might expect from a recent science-fiction film, but the simplicity of everything separates it from the clichés associated with the genre, and the special effects employed do more than their fair share in aiding the plot. This film gives us a spectacular look at what surviving a catastrophe in space might be like.

The opening scene is perfect, opening to a view of Earth, crisply lit in the bottom left corner of the screen against the dark unknown beyond it. The outstanding cinematography right away gives us an idea of what is in store as the film progresses. It is truly an outstanding view meant to make it seem as though we are gazing upon Earth from space ourselves.

We are then introduced to Matt Kowalski (Clooney), who is talking to mission control about how he has a bad feeling about his mission with Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock). Before long, his feeling becomes reality, and a catastrophic accident sends the two of them drifting through space.

A seamless transition allows us to see through Stone’s eyes as she panics while trying to contact Kowalski. This experience makes us feel panicked too because she is spinning, creating a chaotic scene. This happens again in equally chaotic situations throughout the film. Bringing the audience into Stone’s helmet was a masterful way to convey the panic she experienced.

The one thing that made this film so great is that it’s not really about space. It reminds us of trying to survive after a shipwreck on a desolate island with no happy end in sight. Stone essentially ends up alone in outer space after Kowalski forces her to unhook herself from him in order to survive. It’s a tale of perseverance that really brings the whole film back down to Earth.

Even though Clooney returns to aide Bullock, she commands the spotlight. She shows us what it is like, both mentally and physically, in the aftermath of a catastrophe. Her ability to convey what it took to withstand the ordeal may just win her a few nominations at this year’s major award shows.

One thing I wish there was more of is Clooney. The seasoned actor plays the expert in the field, who seems to be Stone’s only chance of survival. More face time with him could’ve helped the viewers to cope with the catastrophe, instead of being worried throughout the film. I suppose that sense could’ve been what Cuarón was aiming for, in which case he did a wonderful job.

Overall, I’d give this film 4.5 out of five stars. The cinematic decisions and acting were both outstanding. It ruled the box office during its debut weekend, earning an October record $55.8 million. “Gravity” is currently being shown at the Bogar Theatre in Marshall twice a day during the week, and four times a day on weekends.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

About Jack Mattern 11 Articles
Jack is a junior from Dearborn, Mich., and is the paper's copy editor. He is an English major, a German minor, and a member of Delta Tau Delta. Jack enjoys watching the Detroit Tigers. You can find him on Twitter at @Jack_Matters.

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