When I first saw the promo for Gravity, I was immediately worried about how an entire film can revolve around one astronaut drifting into space, especially since this scene apparently happened in the beginning of the movie. I was further intrugued when I learned that Gravity was based on the actual experiences of real life astronauts. Having Academy Award winners George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star in the movie was already a bonus. I was already sold on it by the end of the trailer.
Not too far from earth, mission specialist Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran astronaut Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are troubleshooting data transmission error from the US Hubble Space Telescope when they are warned by Houston that a missile strike by the Russians will bring heavy debris their way. Before they can return to the safety of the shuttle, debris from the old satellite hit their location in full force and Ryan is detached from her tether. As she drifts off into space, a series of unfortunate incidents commence, making their return to earth all the more challenging.
Gravity is a piece of excellent filmmaking and this is a credit to the direction Alfonso Cuaron and the screenplay which he co-wrote with his brother Jonas. Based on the subject, there were many pitfalls that could have made the film go the opposite direction, the vision of the Cuaron brothers navigated the film into its proper path to make the outcome even more intense and mind boggling.
For one, the cinematography was excellent for its supposedly limited coverage and director Cuaron took his sweet time establishing the vastness of space and scaling it against his two main characters, and this comparison of their actual size to their environment, adding to the scarcity of their resources, makes them seem even more powerless in their predicament. The pregnant pauses that he uses to transition from scene to scene remind audiences of the sheer helplessness felt by Ryan, especially when she was drifting into space all by her lonesome. Not to mention Sandy and George were so effortless in selling their characters that from the first moment, audiences are already on board with them in that shuttle, worrying about their safety, rooting for them to make it. If a studio has a $100 million to burn for an entire production with just two actors, they made the right call in booking these two.
Gravity is the type of film that involves the audiences because of the underlying hint of reality in which the film is anchored. It gives viewers a terrifying look into the real dangers of being an astronaut in outer space. While there have been countless Sci Fi movies about space and the heroism of these space pilots, engineers, spacewalkers and explorers, audiences often get caught in the adventure part of the movie that they fail to understand that getting on that first shuttle is already a danger in itself. As the film’s tagline suggested, “don’t let go,” and drifting into nothingness with no inkling where and when, or even if one can find rescue is more horrifying than the idea of battling aliens from an unknown origin.
All in all, Gravity gave me a fresh perspective of outer space. I have never been as terrified of any outer space movie as I have been of Gravity, monsters or no. Hats off to the Cuaron brothers and two of the best actors on the planet for this experience. Note to self: best person to get stuck on outer space with is hands down George Clooney.