Talking Nerdy: Reviewing “Gravity”

For multiple reasons, I often try not to just force this column to turn into a review segment — mainly because I do not get to go out to the movies during school as much as I would like. Living on a fixed income combined with increasing ticket prices more often than not makes me hesitant toward spending money more, especially on a fairly risky affair that movie-going can be. But I still do get really excited for some movies and last week’s “Gravity” was one of them. If you haven’t seen it yet and are on the fence, I am telling you now you should go see it. “Gravity” marks not only one of the best films of the year but one of the best films in recent memory. “Gravity” stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalsky, who get stranded in space in what essentially amounts to a freak accident. During a mission to install a new mainframe on the Hubble telescope, debris from a destroyed satellite begins orbiting around Earth at incredible speeds, knocking out other satellites and cutting off communication from Earth to those still stuck in space. The rest of the movie plays out as an extended action set piece broken up by long, atmospheric shots of space.

For starters, this movie is beautiful. Alfonso Cuaron, directing his first since 2006’s fantastic “Children of Men,” lets the camera float through every scene with the same weightlessness as the characters, slowly setting the scene all while establishing the vastness and isolation of space. Most of the film’s cuts are invisible. After noticing how long the opening had continued on without a single cut, I began keeping a mental note in my head just how many cuts there were. The movie became so engrossing that I had eventually lost count, but outside of some of the more intense action sequences they were relegated mostly to just showing the passage of time.

It goes without saying, especially for all the praise this movie has already received, but the effects are some of the best ever put to film. The amount of detail work put into every shot is staggering, but the CG and apparent weightlessness of everything in the movie made me forget that I was really just watching a bunch of actors hanging around on strings in front of a green screen. I don’t often recommend seeing movies in 3D or IMAX, but this is one movie that you will definitely get your money’s worth on. Also, since there is no sound in space, the score picks up the slack left by the silence and is appropriately moody, exciting, and triumphant.

The one possible downside to this movie could be the script. In order to get a lot of factual information to the viewer, the dialogue is a tad bit forced at times. Fortunately, the acting mostly makes it work. Clooney is really just playing himself as an astronaut, unnaturally cool with the situation around him. The surprise here is a career-high performance by normally plain Sandra Bullock, who easily has the most screen time and has to carry most of the movie on her shoulders, which she does with aplomb. I would argue this would be her Oscar moment if it weren’t for the fact she has one already. Her performance was one I didn’t know she had in her and was almost like watching her being reborn on screen.

And “Gravity” is, at its heart, a great big giant metaphor for rebirth. It’s a movie about feeling apart, “finding” God, and overcoming tragedy. “Gravity” is a personal movie on a massive scale that balances the thrilling scenes of space stations getting ripped apart with the more subdued elements of the quietness of space and what it means to be alone.


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Meet the staff: Graham Hakala