Reviews

Gravity

Warner Bros

Mark Haddon

Alfonso Cuarón's glorious creation, less sci-fi and more a thriller set in space, makes you breathless with excitement

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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I’ll be honest, when I first saw the trailer for ‘Gravity’, I wasn’t immediately sold. In fact, I saw the same trailer three more times and still had no real desire to make a cinema trip to see it. Why? There was no particular reason but certain clips did make me fear it was going to be a film that defied all laws of physics and that sort of thing aggravates me. However, numerous friends had seen it and were raving about it. Such positive feedback from people, many of whom aren’t big cinema go-ers, could not be ignored. That, coupled with the fact every critics review said it MUST be seen on the big screen encouraged us to catch it before it’s cinema run ended.

As the opening credits rolled (or indeed before that!) I was glad we had made the effort. It is visually excellent, exploiting all of the modern day tools and technologies to bring ‘space’ to the big screen in a way that would never have been possible even a few years ago. The film also uses 3D more effectively then any other 3D films I have seen; Whilst other films have previously used it just as a value-add (to the extent that we haven’t bothered with 3D films for a good few years), it is used here to subtly bring depth to the vast backdrop of space where it is difficult to get a true sense of perspective. The imagery is further enhanced by use of sound; Director Alfonso Cauron uses minimal sound to emphasise the silent inhabitability of space. Obviously space shuttles, space stations and zero-gravity environments are places only a limited few have experienced so it’s hard to really tell how truly the environment in Earth’s orbit is really represented; But from a lay persons perspective, it feels very real.

Moving to the cast are there aren’t many actors to reflect on, it being made up of 2 actors present in body and 6 actors who provide their voices only. The plot really focuses around Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, who is a “Mission Specialist” aboard Explorer. She is supported by George Clooney as Mission Commander Matt Kowalski. Both are well known faces and in many of their films it can be hard to truly accept them as their character rather than their ‘celebrity’ self. Despite this, they both do a strong job of embodying their characters in ‘Gravity’, although the space suits help further by abstracting their voices from physical appearance during the first third of the film. Bullock in particular is never off screen and spends a portion of the film alone in shots - something which she handles well and, aside from a few more sentimental moments which are common to American films, manages to give a consistent and loyal portrayal of Stone as she deals with incident after incident.

The plot has induced some interesting discussions because, as I feared, it does play with the boundaries of science somewhat. However, at no point during the film did I find myself thinking “What the..?”, everything being just about believable. Of course, ‘Gravity’ is a film, not a work of fact and as such there will always be a degree of artistic licence used. This seems to have caused upset to many viewers of the film, but the ‘twisting the truth’ seen in ‘Gravity’ is no worse than seen in most other films; As an IT professional, I always shudder slightly when I watch any film that involves ‘hacking the mainframe’. My only response to any those die-hard Physicists who are upset about everything not being true to fact: don’t go and see a Hollywood production focused around a mission to repair the Hubble Space telescope! Physics aside, the plot is gripping and non-stop. In the 3 hour window the film covers (the running time isn’t that long though!), Stone experiences a unfortunate number of life-threatening dramas. So much happens that the final occurrence, 5 minutes from the end, is almost too much. Almost, but not quite.

From having looked at various reviews and comments online about the film, balanced with critics reviews and those of my friends, it seems that ‘Gravity’ really is a ‘Marmite’ film. If you really cannot stand Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, space films or arm-rest-gripping tension then this film probably isn’t for you. However, for anyone else, I think you will be (as I was) pleasantly surprised. 

 

 

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Reviewed on 15/12/2013 by Angela

 

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