‘Gravity’ excites, keeps audience on edge


Jay Whang

If Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is a sci-fi meditation on advanced humanity, then “Gravity” is realist drama about human survival. Director Alfonso Cuaron (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, “Children of Men”), with his co-writer son Jonas, created a film that auteur James Cameron always wanted to see in his life- a suspenseful yet uplifting story set in middle of space.

The film begins with, in an unbroken shot, a veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) floating around near the space shuttle Explorer with his crew, including bio-medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) in her first space shuttle mission. Their mission aborts when space debris crashes into and destroys the space shuttle, killing all the other crew members and leaving Kowalski and Stone stranded in space with limited oxygen. Without any communications, they must band together and find a way to get back onto Earth.

One of key factors of the film is its use of long takes, which makes this film feels more like a documentary about two astronauts’ survival. Cuaron and his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (“The Tree of Life”) created a shot so that the audience could follow the progression of these two astronauts, sharing their claustrophobic and weightless feeling of loneliness in clear-looking and infinite space. The film’s well-rendered CGI space crafts and gliding debris, along with realistic physics give outer space itself a personality.

Without Bullock’s (“The Heat”) performance as an anxious yet determined rookie astronaut, the movie wouldn’t have this kind of organic feeling. The audience roots for her imbalances in dark and empty space with no sound as she deals with scenarios no one could have imagined. Clooney (“The Descendent”), as an optimistic veteran, nails as a mentor figure to Stone, giving her advice and commands to get her out of the frightening situation.

“Gravity” could be the spiritual successor to “2001: A Space Odyssey” that fans worldwide have been waiting for. The only difference is that “Gravity” didn’t take place in the future but in present day. Its minimal cast and captivating visual effects make this film a big thrill ride one should not miss. On top of that, it’s one of those movies where the 3-D visual effects add even more to the experience.
By Jay Whang