"Gravity" is a movie that blew up quickly. No pun intended. From the rave reviews it was getting before release, to the commercial success it amassed one it was fully released. This is a movie more about experience, eye-popping visuals and emotion, than telling an actual story. Alfonso Cuaron, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were apart of one of the best movies to be set in space with this. It deserves the praise it gets, but this isn't quite a movie that is Best Picture worthy.
"Gravity" follows the story of Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer, while she is on Shuttle Explorer's STS-157 for her first mission. She is accompanied by astronaut Matthew Kowalski (George Clooney), who is commanding his final mission. During a spacewalk to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, they are warned of a Russian missile strike to destroy a defunct satellite. It would cause a chain reaction and send a debris cloud hurdling their way. Shortly after being told, they lose communication, but keep the lines open in case that they can still hear. Disaster strikes as said debris cloud strikes the Explorer and Hubble. Stone is detached from the shuttle and begins hurdling through space, until she is saved by Kowalski. They begin to head towards the International Space Station using Kowalski's thruster pack. He estimates that they have 90 minutes before the same debris cloud completes an orbit and hits them again. Thus begins a journey through space, in which Kowalski and Stone will encounter trials that are absolute worst case scenarios for anyone up in space.
I get the praise for this film, I really do, but is it really one of the top echelon movies of 2013? I don't think that it quite is. Problems abound once you get past the great performance by Bullock and the eye-popping visuals from Cuaron. There are just plain questions about everything going on. How are there so many abandoned ships and shuttles just floating around up there? I mean I can understand finding a ship, from maybe another country close by. But, it seemed that Stone at one point was really just hopping from ship, to ship, to ship. If she didn't find a working one, she would've gotten to one eventually. I get that this is fantasy, and I don't know about our orbit and atmosphere, or what really goes on up there. But, even with me turning my brain off, I can't wrap my head around Stone being able to just find all of the ships just there exactly when needed. Another thing, while the writing for characters is great, somehow they forgot to really make this a story. Sure, you have Stone eventually getting from point A to point B. If this was the case then I could make a movie based on me going from my house to Best Buy and hope it makes me millions. I'm oversimplifying things, I know. I like visual effects and I love great characters, but put a story with them. Finally, I thought this was far too short, if you're gonna leave me with little story and least give me another 10-20 minutes of visual effects or Bullock and Clooney shooting the breeze. This is a movie, with a bare bones plot, that felt short to me. Give me some more, make it worth my while, make me really want to come back to this.
On the flip side of all this, when this movie was good it was great. As I mentioned above there are two huge areas that really appealed to me with "Gravity." The first was the obvious visual effects. This movie started with a 15-minute shot, consisting of introductions to characters, beautiful shots of space and the setting up of what would be happening the rest of the film. Everything looks fantastic, it's really surreal to see shots of stuff that's all there if you just look up. The shots of earth at a given time, the space shuttles or of space itself are awesome. It doesn't end there as everything felt real, felt dire. The score for this really did a great job of setting atmosphere too. Okay that was a pun, I'm sorry. The debris cloud treating everything to smithereens and then the wandering, I use that lightly, from ship to ship, feels real. This is all partly due to the efforts of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. These two are great in their roles and as the movie wears on Bullock gets better. They work off of each other so well in the early part of the film. Conversations are witty, the emotion is real and there are even a few laughs sprinkled in throughout. As things become more intense so does Bullock. She ends up carrying the bulk of this film on her own. I really am glad she got the nomination for best actress, cause while this isn't the best film, she delivered a helluva performance in it. Despite the lack of much happening, it takes a lot for a actor or actress to keep me into something. Bullock really does deliver in this.
You could say that "Gravity" is a mixed bag. The plot and questions it brings up about a lot of the things actually going on in the film, is enough to leave you scratching your head. The acting by George Clooney, and more so Sandra Bullock, combined with the visual direction of Alfonso Cuaron, are exceptional. This is one of those movies I enjoyed, but wanted more out of. People can easily appreciate the same things I did if they view this. The visuals and acting is more than enough to make this a worthwhile film. But, "Gravity" at its peak was a good film, that got way over-hyped.