Gravity (2013)


Who else would you want to be stuck up in space with other than good ol’ George and Sandra?

In space, no one can hear you scream. Or hell, they can’t hear you do much of anything if you’re stranded out in the middle of the vast universe, which is what happens to both to rookie medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and smart and skilled Commander Matt Kowalksky (George Clooney). After debris from a nearby crash comes to attack their ship, both are left not having any damn clue as to what the hell to do except trust one another and use each other’s skills to the best of their ability. The only problem is that she’s always panicking and not ready for this type of excitement and havoc, hence why it makes the job of getting home safe and sound a bit harder. However, if Stone can reach deep down inside, to the inner-levels of her soul, she’ll find a brave woman that’s ready to fight for her life.

As you can see, I definitely tried my hardest right there to stretch this out as possible as I could, but in case you’re still confused, let me lay down the law for you like this: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney get lost in space. There, that’s it. In a nutshell! Bada-bing! Bada-boom! Seems simple enough, right? Well, it totally is, but what makes this movie not-so simple in its own way is that it’s directed by Alfonso Cuarón who, if you don’t know already, has a keen-eye for detail and finding the inner-most beauty in anything he’s filming.

Face it, it's as close as your average, everyday male is ever going to get to being with Sandra.
Face it, it’s as close as your average, everyday male is ever going to get to being with Sandra.

He did it with the near-catastrophic, post-apocalyptic vision of the world in Children of Men; he did it with a bunch of horny Mexicans venturing all throughout paradise with Y Tu Mamá También; and hell, he even did it with A Little Princess, showing us the imaginative mind of a young girl! So why the hell not space? I mean, there’s simply nowhere else for the guy to go out and explore except for up, up, and up. However, if anybody can make a 90-minute-movie dedicated solely to getting lost in space and somehow make it appealing both visually and emotionally, then it is sure as hell him.

Where Cuarón excels in the most, above all else, is his vision. The movie really does seem like it was filmed somewhere up in outer space and doesn’t make you think twice about what you’re watching, where you’ve been placed, and just how you got there. This movie could have easily gone down the “Hollywood route” and made this come off as just two big-time stars getting lost in space while looking as bright and as beautiful as possible, but Cuarón wouldn’t have it that way, and that’s exactly the way he got. Just the way space itself looks, from the alignment of the stars, to the way the planets spin so slowly, you just feel as if you are lost in space along with these characters, and begin to expect the worst, but hope for the best. The camera glides all throughout this action as it’s happening, giving you the idea that not all thrillers need their cameras to be shaken until they break just to get a rise out of an audience. All you need is some simple tricks of the trade, an acute eye for what’s appealing, and a wonderful pair of ears that allows you to hear everything and anything, just as its happening. Almost as if, you got it, you were right there along for the adventure. I definitely sense plenty of Oscars for visual effects and all of that yiddy-yadda for this in the future, and I have no problem with that whatsoever because it’s obvious that Cuarón put a lot of work into the way this film looks, and he should definitely get some love and adoration for that.

However, it isn’t just looks all the way, there is actually a story to be had here, and as ordinary as it is, it still gets you and never lets loose of you the whole time.

Right as soon as we’re placed into this movie, automatically, we get a somewhere near-17-minute tracking-shot that did not lose my attention for a single second and needless to say, neither did the rest of the film. Once the ship is hit and these two get taken away from one another in space, you are brought right into the story, thinking of all the worst things possible that could happen, and are also left imagining what might happen next, regardless of whether or not this is a Hollywood production. You just automatically feel tense, as if there’s a knot in your stomach that won’t go away, and that’s what Cuarón wants. He isn’t necessarily playing with us, as much as he’s constantly spinning us around (sometimes literally), having us expect what we usually know from movies about survival in a not-so natural instinct, and continue to throw us curveball-after-curveball, while giving us the cheerful, happy moments we as an audience, oh so deserve.

You’ll feel tense at every step-of-the-way and if you can appreciate what Cuarón puts in front of you in terms of visual grandeur, then you’re going to love the hell out of how this movie makes you feel. It’s the go-to definition of what a big-budget, Hollywood movie, with big names, and an inspired premise, as simple as it may be, should to, and then some.

"One day, that planet will be all mine."
“One day, that planet will be all mine.”

But here’s the weird thing about me and this movie: When I originally left the theater, I was automatically thinking 9, like how the hell could I not?!?! Not only was it a gut-punchingly tense movie, but it also had plenty of emotional moments that made it all the more compelling and easy to care about. But when I began to think about it, I started to think that some of the writing for this movie was in fact sloppy, and probably really manipulative. For instance, rather than giving the character of Ryan Stone the simple dilemma of having to try and get out of space in one piece and alive, she also had to have a kid of hers die and make her seemingly numb to the rest of the world that surrounds her. Not only is this is a bit hokey, but it seemed like such a lame-excuse to write Stone as someone more than just your average, ordinary astronaut; she just HAD to have a cause and/or reason for surviving, and that in and of itself felt a bit ham-handed, not something I’d expect from Alfonso Cuarón. Maybe from his son, Jonás (who he co-wrote this one with), would, but not Alfonso. I know him too well.

That said, I can’t take any of that away from Sandra Bullock at all considering that she gives a great performance that’s both physically, and emotionally demanding of her every talent. Bullock definitely shows hints of that inner-charm she has, but that’s all down-played to give us a female that won’t give up and stop fighting for her life, even when the obstacles set in front of her seem like they’re almost too mighty or powerful to hurdle-over. Stone sounds like a corny character, or maybe I just make her sound that way, but Bullock gives her a believeability to her that makes her easy-to-root-for and understandable as a human-being when she has to make some questionable decisions on her path to living. George Clooney is also very solid as the gruff, wiser astronaut of the two and displays that same old type of charm and likability that we love to see from the dude, and the scenes between him and Bullock make the friendship/relationship between these two characters seem more worth caring for. Now, why the hell these two won’t just get hitched and whisk off together in real-life, is totally beyond me! However, that’s for TMZ to gossip about. This is DTMMR, bitches! We couldn’t care less about that crap!

Consensus: Gravity may be stretched upon its very limits at times, but most of the time, it is a very compelling, intense, and utter-beauty of a flick that demands you pay attention to it, and feel like you’re along for the ride, even if you don’t want to be at times.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Their love knows no limits.
Their love knows no limits.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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64 comments

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head here Dan: “You just automatically feel tense, as if there’s a knot in your stomach that won’t go away, and that’s what Cuarón wants.” If I could agree with you 212%, I would. I was tense from the moment the opening shot was established, which by the way, I guess was long as shit! When it opens i’ve never heard silence so loud before. Bravo, Mr. Cuarón; bravo!

  2. Its release is delayed here, but I guess I can watch it next week. A 2D show will be fine? The trailer seemed to ask for 3D. For the visual grandeur & effects you mentioned, 3D should be better suited, I guess.

  3. Haven’t seen it, want to see it, so I can’t really read the review but I always check the rating because that kind of pushes me to either see it or not.. So, I really want to see it now!

  4. I actually first heard about this movie a couple years ago. Robert Downey Jr. brought it up on a few interviews as one of his next projects. Then supposedly, he withdrew due to scheduling conflicts. After the recasting process (not positive how long it took Clooney to be cast), its release date kept being pushed back. I had NO idea it was going to be about and in hindsight, I can only be thankful RDJ dropped out.
    That being said, the first trailer FREAKED me out. Looks like the kind of movie that would be most stunning on the big screen, but if I saw it in IMAX, I’d come away with a serious case of vertigo (and I’m not the type of person who gets dizzy at IMAX either). I only know the director as the guy behind the third Harry Potter movie (one of my favorites in the series) and clearly, he’s the ONLY director who could make this movie as suspenseful as it looks.
    Glad to hear all the great reviews, I just don’t think I could sit through it, between it dragging out and the risk of hyperventilation 😛

  5. I’m always wary when a film has a tiny cast, I worry I’ll get bored watching the same 2 people (IMDB lists 6?) but everyone is raving about it. Maybe I should check it out. Nice write up Dan.

  6. Good take Dan. Cuaron grabs on to you and doesn’t let go for 90 minutes. While the script/dialogue was lacking, it was minimal and you needed something to keep the film moving. Overall, a fantastic ride with plenty of subtext.

  7. I especially agree with the part of your review where you left the theatre thinking ‘9’. I felt the exact same way. As much as I loved the film, my brain automatically said “If you give Gravity a perfect score I will kill you!” It is a little bit cheesy and Clooney is a bit too calm in the film for my liking… but the rest of it was just beautiful.

    Loved your review Dan. They’re always so detailed and thorough 🙂

    • Thank you! Needed something to make myself wonder if I should give it a “goodie”, or a “relatively okay” rating. Obviously, as you can see, I went with the latter.

  8. […] “Gravity may be stretched upon its very limits at times, but most of the time, it is a very compelling, intense, and utter-beauty of a flick that demands you pay attention to it, and feel like you’re along for the ride, even if you don’t want to be at times.” – Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews […]

  9. Ok cool, this is doable. It’s funny, since you blog your movie reviews, as soon as you come out of the theater, your thinking hmm, what score should I give this thing? I do the same thing but I think in letters not number. Good review, will see this one this weekend. Shazza.

  10. Gravity sucked me in right from the opening shots and didn’t let go of me until the credits rolled. The special effects are phenomenal and I can’t think of another film that made space feel so real to me (any actual technical inaccuracies aside). Plus I was truly impressed by how few edits there were and how well they were concealed. I couldn’t believe at times how much kept going wrong and had moments where I actually let out audible sighs of relief. I would agree that Stone’s backstory does feel a bit forced and the drama seems downright corny in her dialogue near the end. But overall an amazing film that accomplishes everything it really sets out to do.

  11. Never felt it stretched too much. And interesting point about the kid maybe being a bit hokey…didn’t have an issue with it myself. Have seen it a second time yesterday and enjoyed it just as much, my favorite movie of the year this moment.

  12. Great review. Spot on… Gravity is a visual sensation. There are a few roll-the-eyes physics moments, but the vast majority of the physics are really accurate. The section where she’s trying to pull away from the space station and the parachute is caught is exceptionally well done. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the DVD and seeing the extras & behind-the-scenes footage

  13. I don’t see any issue with Bullock’s backstory, and in fact that story goes a long way in making Gravity more than just straightforward disaster film. The idea of it being hamfisted I don’t agree with either. The tragedy of losing a child is one that is always lingering, but also one is very rarely willing to share. Even in situations with close friends or coworkers people often aren’t going to bring it to the table. Now, after a situation like nearly losing your life or after coming face to face with your own death people tend to revisit past tragic situations in their life. So it makes sense the first thing on a person’s mind would be their lost child.

    Now why was it is added? Well, a number of reasons. It’s clear inside this massive special effects driven story is an expressive journey of rediscovering one’s self. The emotional rebirth and fight for survival, a physical survival as well as a physiological one. The juxtaposition of this those two elements allows for an examination of how we use comfort, or the lack thereof, to rediscover one’s drive. Maybe some of the dialog is simplistic, but I don’t see that as a fault of the script. I see that as an attempt to bring some universal reliability. I’m not sure what the dialog of two astronauts would be like in a situation like this, but nothing sfelt me out of place.
    Anyways solid review. Did enjoy seeing your insights.

  14. I finally watched this movie, I couldn’t read your review until then so I didn’t have any bias, but you hit it all right on the head. Good review, this maybe Sandra finest performance!!!!

  15. You really made me think about the dialogue and the weaknesses in the script. They finally give a woman a big role in space and she says some dumb stuff, even compared to the stuff the man says (which isn’t rocket science, usually). Ah well. I guess women in movies – even in Cuaron’s movies – still have a ways to go. Great review. Thanks for your comment on mine!

  16. Arguably the best tagline for a movie EVER, “In space no one can hear you scream” Alien’s “In space no one can hear you scream” tagline is arguably the best tagline for a movie of all-time. That same tagline could easily be effectively utilized for Alfonso Cuarón’s latest thriller, Gravity.

    Starring two unknowns by the names of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, Gravity puts the two A-listers together as a medical engineer and an astronaut that must work in tandem to survive once a freak accident leaves them adrift in space.

    Their struggle takes place after debris from a Russian satellite comes speeding through their orbit ripping their space shuttle to shreds causing Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) to float untethered in space. Coming to her aid is astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) who estimates that the debris will again circle the earth and again zip past their location in approximately 90-minutes. Their mission quickly changes into a race to survival 600km above the earth where help from anyone outside of each other is impossible.

    Alfonso Cuarón is chiselling himself quite a career. He was last behind the camera for Children of Men (2006) which was nominated for three Academy Awards and he was also responsible for the best film in the Harry Potter film series with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). But Gravity is his best work to date.

    Bullock carries the film (expect some murmurs for a Best Actress nomination) and Gravity centers on the two main characters only. There are no other developed characters. Two other astronauts and a radio voice from Houston, Texas are the only other character influences and their parts wouldn’t amount to 2 minutes if strung in order.

    With only two actors to carry the entire 90-minute runtime, the movie relies heavily on its visuals of space and the various orbiting stations with the earth always prominent in the background. And the visuals are fantastic. There are no side-stories, sub-plots, unnecessary fluff or sexual tension between the characters. Just a desperate attempt to make the most of the oxygen they have left.

    Gravity is the best 3D film ever. Ever. Add to the mix the incredible visuals and perfect sound (both loud and quiet) and you have a faultless mix. Gravity will contend for Oscar’s in Visual Effects, Sound and Editing.

    Cuarón incredibly is able to give his audience a sense of claustrophobia whether his cast are inside an orbiting capsule or in the vast darkness of space. And as the astronauts deal with each new developing tragedy, the audience will themselves be gasping for air rooting for the character’s success in each new attempt at survival.

    With still a few months left in the year, it’s too early to call a film the year’s best. But Gravity will definitely be there on many lists at the year’s conclusion. It’s that breathtaking. It’s that good.

    More about the movie you can also find it here
    http://movieinfodb.com/en/movie/49047/Gravity-2013

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