Gravity is probably the best movie in which the main character spends half the time in her underwear. But to leave it at that does the movie a big disservice; it may well end up being the best science fiction film of the year.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), Commander Matthew Kowalski (George Clooney), and some redshirts are in space repairing a satellite, connected with NASA below (Ed Harris). But soon wreckage debris rushes through, destroying the satellite, the shuttle, and communications, and of course leaving the two of them as the only survivors. Tethered together, they must explore the immediate area to find an operational station and/or craft that can get them home.
With this simple a set up, Gravity is kind of film that’s hard to believe hasn’t already been made. But when seeing it, the reason why becomes clear: 3D. It and the other visual effects are truly what make this an enthralling experience, so much so that a standard viewing will not impress the same impact. So pony up the extra money for this one, it’ll be worth it.
To some, this might just seem like something that could be pitched as Open Water in space (a comparison to the more recent All is Lost might also be in order). And sure the basic tenants are there: man and woman marooned in a vast void, no one coming to the rescue, fast-ticking clock on survival, and so on. This however comes from a different place tonally. The focus is more on the adventure for survival rather than a meditation on hopelessness.
Looking more into this movie, I was surprised that many young actresses were considered for Dr. Stone. Were that to pass, it would have been a major detriment. Bullock provides the maturity needed for a character who’s not only a scientist but an astronaut that we need to believe has had years of training and experience in these fields. While I’m sure that Blake Lively and Olivia Wilde look equally as lovely in their undergarments, they just can’t deliver that. Bullock’s work here is a career best and proof that the Academy Award on her shelf was no fluke.
At this point I’m not sure how many out there haven’t yet experienced this film or if they are going to need any more persuading for doing so. But as the theaters are becoming crowded with space saga titles of a more fantastical sort, Gravity is the one to go to for something real. Something, um, grounded.