Oct 21, 2013

[Movies] Gravity (2013)

From the time the first trailer for Gravity game out, it was pretty clear that it was going to be a rather intense movie. The feelings of isolation that one goes through when only a spacesuit stands between you and total vacuum, well, there's a lot of potential for fear there.

But even with the trailer, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this movie. It was clearly a science fiction piece, but then there was also a significant effort to make the movie appear as realistic as possible. After all, it's not like they were trying to depict some far off future. Instead the movie is fairly contemporary, and thus we face all the limitations of modern space travel.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this movie, even though it left my heart racing at a rather scary pace by the time the credits rolled. There was just so much going on as Sandra Bullock tries to survive the seemingly impossible odds that she faced. And while there were still some liberties taken with how things were depicted, in the end it was an amazing movie that managed to find a way to tell a particular story about the human spirit.

Synopsis: Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller directed, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Alfonso Cuarón. His son Jonás co-wrote the screenplay with him.

Our protagonist is Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), who is a Mission Specialist on her first space shuttle mission to install some specialty equipment that she had invented into the Hubble Space Telescope. The mission commander is Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who is also testing out an experimental thruster pack while Stone works on the telescope. During the mission, Mission Control in Houston warns the team of incoming debris from a Russian missile strike on an old satellite. The explosion has caused a chain reaction and the debris is taking out large numbers of satellites in its wake. Thus they are ordered to abort the mission and begin emergency re-entry procedures.

But they're unable to return to the safety of the Explorer, pelting the ship with debris and untethering Dr. Stone in the process. She's left adrift in space for some time until Kowalski manages to find her and tows her back to the shuttle. But there they discover that the ship has been heavily damaged and the rest of their crew is dead. Thus the only they can do is to try to get towards the International Space Station and use one of the Soyuz capsules to return to Earth.

The movie is quite the epic survival tale, as Stone and Kowalski do their best to find a way home despite all odds being against them. And quite frankly, it's hard to imagine how anyone could survive all that and still persevere despite everything that had gone against them. Kowalski's character is truly the stabilizing influence in the movie - a clear example of how training and experience can keep a man focused and determined to find solutions more than anything else.

Bullock does remarkably well in this movie, and this is probably one of her better films in recent years. She shifts between panic and determination in a realistic manner and you can feel her tension and fear during the movie's hairier moments. Her performance in this movie is wonderfully authentic more than anything else. And that's what helps drive things along.

I won't get into the technical inaccuracies in the movie. At the end of the day this is a work of fiction and the facts generally work to support the story more than anything else. And that's not a bad thing since the goal here is to tell a story. And that story is what takes the audience away to a completely different reality.

Gravity is a brilliant, intense and amazing movie. It's a tale of the human spirit - a story about finding a reason to live and survive against all odds. And given how beautifully it was done, the movie fully deserves a full 5 floating ballpens out of a possible 5.

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