Friday 14 March 2014


After directing Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004, Mexican writer/director Alfonso Cuarón helmed the bleak science fiction film Children of Men in 2006. Though his work on the Harry Potter series was indeed a dark turn for the series, with Children of Men he presented us with startlingly real 2027, in a time of great despair in which humans can no longer bear children. Both of these films cemented him as a force to be reckoned with in the film industry, but since Children of Men he remained largely inactive. It seems he was just biding his time, as now he brings us Gravity; a film that has not only grossed 700 million worldwide, but has been praised by almost every critic alive.

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone and George Clooney as Lieutenant Matt Kowalski, two astronauts who, when the film starts, are servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. Stone is a medical engineer aboard the Explorer shuttle, and with this being her first space-walk, she's quite nervous. However, Kowalski on the other hand is anything but nervous! He's most at home when up above the Earth, though he does try and steady Stone's shaky hand. But things are about to get a whole lot worse as Mission Control lets the duo know that debris from a destroyed Russia satellite is heading their way. Asked to abort the mission, Stone and Kowalski must prep the shuttle for immediate re-entry. But then the debris hits, and as chunks of the Russian satellite tear through the shuttle like a hot knife on butter, Stone is flung off hurtling into the dark void of space. With the shuttle gone and no means of returning home, Stone and Kowalski must try and work out a plan of survival.

A feeling of suspense is something that can be quite hard to get right on film, but Gravity has it by the bucket load. As soon as the shit hits the fan with the Explorer being torn to shreds, the entire film is one disaster after another, and amid this turmoil is Stone. Played exceptionally well by Bullock, Stone's journey throughout the film is meaningful and poignant, without being hammy or cheesy. She's pretty much our only human connection to the drama in this film, and this, coupled alongside her traumatic back-story that is slowly revealed throughout, successfully pull the audience into the world of Gravity. You'll feel for her, wince at every piece of debris that flies past her head, hold your breath during long leaps of faith through the blackness of space and, ultimately, be incredible immersed during its 91 minutes. Gravity is focused on her survival, and the resilience of the human spirit even when faced up to impossible odds.

Gravity is also equally as masterful when it comes to the visuals. While mostly using CGI, director Alfonso Cuarón layered a great sense of physicality into the characters by having the actors act out most scenes hooked up to wires, and spun around to simulate a zero gravity environment. This performance was given a coat of CGI and bam! you have yourself a film that never feels like an over abundance of CGI. It feels real, and this, more than absolutely anything, is Gravity's best asset. From scenes of simply floating around, to the final epic shots over Earth, it's pretty much flawless from start to finish. Furthermore, the music and sound design of the film is truly incredible. Backed up by a moving and thrilling soundtrack by Steven Price, the sound design in Gravity is just sublime. This is the final piece of the puzzle that successfully lets Gravity transport the viewer up above the safety of the planet, up into the nothingness of space, which is both beautiful and terrifying.

Gravity dominated the competition at the Oscars. I'm not really surprised to be honest, as despite Gravity being the film that wasn't deemed “Oscar bait”, its breath-taking blend of suspense, realism, action, survival and thrills is genuinely next to none. You know those cheesy reviews that say shit like, “You'll be glued to your seat!” and “You'll forget to breath!” Well, most of the time those reviews simply want to make it onto the movie posters, but with Gravity it's true. It’s an absolutely brilliant and perfect film. I'm getting chills just thinking about it. Watch it.

Houston, we have a 5/5, []

Denis Murphy

Gravity at CeX

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