The physics around gravity are undeniable. The quality film-making associated with the movie Gravity is undeniable as well. Producer, Director and Co-Writer Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien, A Little Princess) has created a visually and emotionally engrossing film. To suggest Gravity is a space flick would be the same as categorizing Cast Away as a movie about island life.
As with almost all of Cuaron’s original works Gravity’s storyline is deeply human and totally engrossing. Combined with a short run tine (90 minutes) Gravity is over in what feels like a blink. This script was created by Alfonso and his son Jonas.
Cuaron’s teammate, Director of Photography Emanuel Lubezki (see Cuaron’s listing above, The Tree of Life, Ali, The Birdcage) provides a gorgeous tapestry of images coupled with some astonishing action. The five time Academy Award Nominee is arguably one of (if not) the best in the business right now.
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Ed Harris (voice) lead a film that has only seven actors credited (five of which are effectively voice only). Bullock is nothing short of superb as Dr. Ryan Stone, The role and script demand the actor display a professional in total focus, frailty, personal-loss, melancholy, outright-fear, perseverance, humor, compassion and faith in themselves. Bullock, as usual, is more than up to the task.
Clooney’s role is truly that of supporting actor, not male lead. Clooney’s character is light-hearted, optimistic laced with a deliberately fake veneer of pessimism and extremely cool under pressure. None of this is a stretch for Clooney. So the performance does not seem outstanding – but that would be unfair, because we just expect Clooney to be spot on in this kind of role.
And as for the space vehicles and other technical stuff? According to many industry experts Gravity is exceptionally accurate in its depiction of space travel, sans one gaping (and known to be so) plot hole. Astronaut Michael J. Massimino who flew missions in 2002 and 2009 to service the Hubble Space Telescope was delighted that Bullock (who is supposedly performing a repair on the same device) was using what looks exactly like his “favorite space wrench.”
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The Gaping Plot Hole: in order to survive the astronauts must travel from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to the International Space Station (ISS). This cannot happen because they are in completely different orbits – the HST at 353 miles above Earth and residing over the Equator, with the ISS at 253 miles above Earth and sitting over Northern Russia. The difference of elevation and location of these two was a source of debate only 10 years ago. The choice to keep them in different orbits was based on NASA’s fears and pull-back on future missions for the Space Shuttle after the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry in 2003.
In the film there are no depictions of sound in space – which is scientifically accurate. The movie trailers added sound to attract viewers – thanks marketing department and trailer makers!
Gravity opens with a 17-minute continuous single shot. Lubezki, is considered the master of the difficult (and often expensive) long continuous single sequence shot. Many consider Lubezki’s long continuous single shot in Children of Men to be the Standard Bearer.