REVIEW: “Gravity”

Gravity Poster

“Gravity” had an interesting ad campaign leading to its release. The trailers and TV spots practically told us nothing about the story. Astronauts are in space. A terrible accident occurs. That’s it. Yet there was something so attractive and intriguing about what we are shown. Throw in two top Hollywood A-listers (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) and an intriguing director and “Gravity” quickly became one of my more anticipated films.

Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron co-wrote, co-produced, and directed this film which could best be described as a space drama/thriller/survival tale soaked in intensity and pure visual splendor. Cuaron has a solid track record and critics have already heaped a ton of praise on him for “Gravity”. But in my experience enthusiasm from critics doesn’t always point to a great film. So my one big concern remained as I walked in for my Rave Xtreme Screen viewing of “Gravity”. Would it be a gorgeous spectacle filled with stunning eye candy but nothing else to really chew on?

Gravity 1

First off there’s definitely more to “Gravity” that snazzy visuals. In fact, one of the film’s strengths is its ability to not only define its characters but to develop a strong and ultimately moving deeper meaning all within its limited space and with its limited dialogue. Much of this is a direct result of the ingenious writing from Cuaron and his son/co-writer Jonas. Their script is smart and strategic giving us morsels of information that over time paint a satisfying picture of who these characters are.

Even more compelling are the numerous themes which “Gravity” touches on. From being a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit to what I found to be a deeper and more personal spiritual meaning, “Gravity” is one of those rare gems that can touch people in a variety of different ways. The Cuarons clearly have this in mind but their execution of it all is nearly flawless. And while the visuals often take center stage, they are simply there to emphasize these greater points.

But perhaps the most affecting theme involves the clever imagery and references to infancy. The first I noticed involved a character floating in a zero gravity fetal position similar to a baby in a mother’s womb. At first I thought it was a slick homage but then I noticed other things. There are several childlike reactions and one particular scene where the same character, in a state of despair, talks in very childlike terms about never being shown how to pray. The infancy metaphor is wrapped up in the film’s fabulous final shot. The idea of starting over, being reborn, and standing up to embrace a new life is beautiful in both message and presentation. It’s that final shot and its stirring message that solidified my love for this picture.

Gravity 3

Oh, and did I mention this film takes place in space? While I may have been surprised that this movie had as much emotional pop as it did, I wasn’t a bit surprised that it looked so good. Quite honestly this is one of the most visually stimulating experiences I’ve had at the theater in some time. With the exception of one brief scene, the entire film takes place in the Earth’s orbit. In this setting Cuaron captures both the vastness of space and the claustrophobic confines of spacesuits, space stations, and space shuttles. I found it to be extremely effective. There were also moments where I was caught up in the sheer beauty of what I was seeing.

But the effects really reach a new level once a catastrophic accident occurs which propels the main story. The mind-blowing realism of these scenes are amazing. They ratchet up the intensity by drawing you in and I constantly found myself trying to dodge shrapnel or blinking for fear of being struck by debris. Those reactions are one reason this film should be seen on the biggest screen possible. It also features the rarity of some well implemented 3D. Now I don’t think the 3D was utilized as well as it could have been, but it certainly had those moments that really stood out.

Gravity 2

And I have to give props to the two wonderful performances from George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Clooney is rock solid as always and some of the film’s best lines belong to his character. But this is really Bullock’s movie and she knocks it out of the park. She flawlessly handles all of the physical and emotional requirements of her character and she’s a vital component to the film’s success. It was also cool hearing Ed Harris’ voice as Houston mission control (“Apollo 13” anyone). He’s just one of several tips of the hat that “Gravity” throws out there.

I haven’t said much about the story and that’s intentional. The less you know going in the better. To be honest, there’s not a lot of story there. Yet when mixed with the assortment of thought-provoking motifs and breathtaking atmosphere, it seems perfect for its 90 minute package. I’m really curious about how it views on a smaller screen and if people will think as highly of the film a few years down the road. But for me the initial experience was unforgettable. Completely original, strikingly bold, and brilliantly made. It’s a movie that actually lives up to its hype and it should be a sure-fire contender come Oscar night.




48 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Gravity”

    • I really went back-and-forth between a 4.5 and 5 star rating. It’s the first 2013 movie I’ve given five stars. It’s definitely one you want to see on the big screen.

    • Thanks my friend. I gotta say, even though I was really excited about this one, I didn’t see how it could live up to the hype. It does. I gotta say though, I’ll be anxious to see how it holds up over time.

  1. Solid review Keith, loved it. And I think what you get to at the end there is really quite a good thought; who knows how this film’s scale will end up playing out on my laptop lol or even a 55-inch flatscreen. the first viewing of it is quite something, and an experience i urge all cinephiles to put themselves through. I kind of want to see it again, but kind of don’t . . . for those very reasons above. 🙂

    • Thanks man. I think I’d love to see it again on the big screen. The sheer visual spectacle itself was amazing. But there is a lot more to the film than that which really surprised me.

  2. Lovely to just gaze at, bad to listen to when they all started talking. Oh well, I’ve come to realize that I’m the only one who seemed to have a problem with that. Good review Keith.

    • It’s a really smart movie. As I mentioned there’s not a lot of story. But it fits very well in its 90 minute running time. I think if they would have stretched it out even 15 more minutes it would start to drag. But they make site that doesn’t happen. I also felt the 3D had some standout moments but overall it wasn’t as amazing as it could have been. That’s really all I have! LOL

      • Ha ha, well my local cinema shows a very limited range of films, and it’s not certain whether they will show this yet, so I have my fingers crossed!

        You paint a very good picture of the film!

      • Thanks! I have no “local” theater. It’s a 140 mile round trip for me to the theater I frequent. Not a big deal I guess but it does limit those quick, after work movie engagements.

  3. First review I’ve read Keith… and I was excited after the trailers but am really excited now. Given that you haven’t spoiled with any details (thanks!) I am going to try and avoid all other reviews I see until I’ve watched it myself. Sounds great.

    • Thanks for reading mine. I really appreciate it. I always try to stay spoiler free. It’s important to me not to have the movie spoiled before I see it.

      I hope you get to see the film soon. It has to be seen on the big screen. I’m really curious as to how it will look once it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. But as I mentioned in the review, the visuals are gorgeous but they are mainly setting up the journey that these characters are taking. I don’t want to go more into it than that but let’s just say the film had a lot more depth than I expected.

  4. YAY Keith, high five! Hope you get a chance to check out my review but we agree on the rating 😉 I think the thought-provoking aspect would make this very much worth watching even in the small screen. But of course, it’s meant to be seen in as big a screen as possible!

  5. Nice review. I missed Gravity last weekend, but hope to check this out soon, especially since I loved Cuaron’s Children of Men. Great to see a high score.

  6. Watched this at the Imax for $19. Yes $19 and it looked amazing. I don’t think I dug the story or performances as much as you did, but no denying this is gonna win a boat load of technical awards and probably best cinematography.

    • Thanks bro. It’s a funny thing, I really struggled between giving it a 4.5 and a 5 star rating. Reflecting back on it, the story is pretty simple and light. But as I mentioned, there are so many cool motifs interwoven throughout it. And they are very effective in terms of how they are presented. And then of course there is the visual presentation. I swear, this thing looks incredible. All of that led to an initial experience that I truly loved.

      Now as I’ve said before, I’m curious how this one holds up over the next few years. But right now I’m just dying to see it again.

    • I think it has a really good shot. It’ll definitely be nominated especially with the expanded number of nominees. But in terms of winning, I also think it’ll be in the conversation.

  7. So awesome that you liked the movie, it’s honestly one of the most stunning movies I’ve seen in terms of both visuals and story. I adored the rebirth symbolism and the ending was beautiful.

  8. I got out to see this yesterday and thought the visuals were amazing; moments after the film opened I thought “that guy on the radio sounds like Ed Harris” and then I was surprised on the credits to learn it was in-fact him. That was cool. I like your interpretation of the film and agree full-heartedly. I like the last shot, as well. To me, when she utters “Thank you” I felt as if she attained a belief and faith in God.

    • That’s exactly how I interpreted it. It’s cool because you could interpret it another way. But for me it was oozing with spirituality. Really glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was a great film and I plan on taking my wife to see it this weekend.

  9. Great review and such a great movie in every way. Actually went to see it twice within one week and it was exciting to watch as the first time. Currently my favorite this year.

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