Written by Matt Mungle
There is no doubt that Sandra Bullock and George Clooney can act at an award worthy caliber. The issue with the new Sci-Fi thriller Gravity is that it needs more than great acting; it needs a solid story line, incredible special effects, and an ability to rivet audiences in their seats for ninety minutes. Sure it is the name draw that will get tickets sold, but it is raising the bar of the genre that will make them worth the price.
Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney) are two astronauts left adrift in space after a routine space walk runs afoul. Kowalski the seasoned veteran and Stone a medical engineer on her first mission work together to try and survive. As they encounter obstacle after obstacle, it is clear that this is may not end well no matter how famous the actors are.
This is an intense thrill ride heightened by the understanding of how vast and dark space is. It is easy to find yourself short of breath or feeling a bit claustrophobic as you watch these characters struggle in the journey. The mental concept of floating with no control and nothing to hold on to will inch you closer and closer to the edge of your seat. Add to that the stunning graphics and visual landscape that director Alfonso Cuarón creates, and at times you will forget you aren't out there on your own.
That is the good news. Luckily it outweighs the bad. This film may leave some feeling a bit bored and starving for the multi-character interaction and comic relief that Sci-Fi often brings. Many might hope that an alien pops up simply to add a new dimension to the story line. Others will long for the more NASA driven movies of the past where you get both sides working to bring the stranded bodies home. The film often takes itself too serious, and you end up with overly dramatic angles and a stylized art piece.
Gravity has a bit of action, and it comes in bursts that are real and stomach churning. Those moments, especially in 3D theaters, will have you gripping your armrest and holding on for dear life. But most of the film is a lot of dramatic situations and reflection as death seems inevitable. You may find yourself questioning the validity of it all. Sandra Bullock does a fine job with the role, but at times it feels like she is out of her element. Maybe that was the point. Also having someone as well known in the role keeps the idea in your mind that this is just a movie. Having an unfamiliar face would have made the tension even greater. As far as Clooney, even in space he is witty and charming.
Gravity is rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images, and brief strong language. The only thing keeping this from PG is the peril and serious situations. Certainly an adult movie, but one all can enjoy; if you love the genre. You have to truly embrace Sci-Fi and not simply like movies that take place in space.
I give it 4 out of 5 Marvin the Martians. If you go into it with the right frame of mind, you will get your money’s worth for sure.