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Gravity (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 90 minutes

OK for children.

Wow; this is a movie! Much as I loathe movies that rely on special effects, this one is, well, special. With a cast of two, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (others receive voice credits), it is spellbinding. They are floating around in space, weightless, the entire film. The special effects are mind-boggling.

Clooney and Bullock are astronauts on a routine mission when disaster strikes. Clooney is an experienced, happy-go-lucky jokester while Bullock is an overly serious novice. It’s a tale of survival in the starkest environment known to mankind, space.

Although superstar Clooney is in the cast, this is Bullock’s movie as she is in almost every scene. Equal credit must go to visual effects supervisor Tim Webber, who was Oscar®-nominated for The Dark Knight, because they are the best I’ve ever seen, along with director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, whose photography is nothing short of spectacular. That’s not to diminish the award-quality work of production designer Andy Nicholson and director Alfonso Cuarón (who also wrote a pretty good script with his son, Jonás Cuarón).

Shot in exceptionally effective 3-D, this had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Obviously Bullock and Clooney were not really floating around weightless. The film is a hybrid of live-action, computer animation, and CGI with sets, backgrounds, and costumes rendered digitally. A unique 12-wire rig was used and manipulated by puppeteers that allowed Bullock to look as if she really was floating in some of the scenes. Even knowing this, what you see on the screen will blow your mind.

But just because this is a space-age movie with 21st-Century graphics doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pay homage to what came before. The scenes of the inside of a devastated space station are strikingly similar to the scenes of a similarly devastated WWII bomber limping back to England in 1946’s A Matter of Life and Death in which directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have their camera pan through the stricken plane in almost exactly the same manner and with similar views as Cuarón uses to display the condition of the space station.

Cuarón creates the isolation and solitude of space brilliantly, making the audience feel the desperation of the two astronauts when things suddenly go terribly wrong.

I was scheduled for another screening the same evening as I saw this in the morning, but was so overwhelmed by this that I cancelled the second. It wouldn’t have been fair to see another movie after I had just seen this.

‘Nuff said. This is one not to miss.

October 2, 2013