Skip to main content

Lost in space: The 'Gravity' of it all

Published October 16. 2013 05:00PM

"Gravity" is a masterful achievement in cinema. It will be regarded as a classic and a landmark film.

Look for Oscar nominations in the double digits, including actress: Sandra Bullock; supporting actor: George Clooney; director: Afonso Cuaron; original screenplay: Cuaron and his son, Jonas; cinematography, and numerous technical categories.

In "Gravity," a collision, intentional or not, of Russian satellites sends a debris shower into the path of the Space Shuttle where Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is repairing the Hubble space telescope and NASA astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) is zipping around in a jet pack.

They are the only survivors and are set adrift. They are lost in space. To reveal much more about the plot, or the sequence of events, would be a spoiler and take away from your enjoyment of the film.

What can be said is that "Gravity" will have you gripping your popcorn box, the theater seat arm rest or the hand of the person sitting next to you. The action is so realistic and so believable that you will think that you are adrift in space.

The visuals are spectacular. The black expanse of space, with its millions of stars, is contrasted with the blue orb of Earth, sometimes cloaked in clouds, or with brown deserts and the lights of metropolitan areas visible.

The effect is thrilling and threatening because of the predicament of the astronauts. There is spine-tingling action, jaw-dropping visuals and an inspirational theme.

"Gravity" is a spare production. Bullock is onscreen for most of the film. You couldn't have asked for better casting. Otherwise, five voices, including that of Ed Harris, at mission control, are heard.

Bullock has such an expressive face and voice. She retains the charm of a young woman yet again, we won't play spoiler but because of a deep personal loss, she has aged into a flat cynicism. Her faith in the universe, in God, in herself has been challenged. She is going through the emotions. She must find inner resolve.

Clooney is a wise-cracking, savvy sidekick. Most of the film's humor (amidst the chaos) originates with Clooney's quips. He has the gravitas, the cool head, the grace under pressure to see difficult situations through. It helps that he looks a lot like Buzz Lightyear from the "Toy Story" films. He also foreshadows the storyline when he says several times, "I have a bad feeling about this mission."

Cuaron ("Children of Men," 2006; "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban," 2004; "Great Expectations," 1998) creates a roller-coaster ride of emotions. His pacing is impeccable. His attention to detail is amazing (Marvin the Martian toy in the Space Shuttle, a Russian space toy in the International Space Station, a Buddha in the Chinese space station).

Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki, visual effects supervisor Tim Webber and a NASA rocket launch-size crew of computer animators and special effects persons keep "Gravity" up in the air.

Composer Steven Price uses orchestral, electronica and heartbeat sounds to make the tension palpable.

"Gravity" is a film that should be seen in the Imax 3D format. It's worth the extra money. And, if you can see the film during a matinee, there's a significant savings.

At times, "Gravity" is dizzying and disorienting. When space debris heads toward you, you will wince or duck. Other times, "Gravity" may restore your sense of wonder, not only of missions to space above, but of the preciousness of earth below.

Move Maven Mike Gontkosky calls "Gravity" ground-breaking and says it raises the bar for future space-themed movies. "It's immersive," he notes of seeing the film in the Imax 3D format.

"Gravity" is one of those films that has leaped off the entertainment pages to the editorial-opinion and front pages. "I was just happy they didn't cut off funding for my research," says Dr. Stone, ironic in light of recent U.S. politics.

The film's movie poster adage, "Don't Let Go," are words we could apply to our lives, families, careers, nation and world.

After you see "Gravity," you may never want to be down to earth again.

"Gravity," MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13) for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language; Genre: Drama, Science-Fiction, Thriller; Run time: 1 hr., 30 min.; Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "Gravity" was filmed at Lake Powell, Utah, and Arizona, and Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England, United Kingdom.

Box Office, Oct. 11: "Gravity" kept its footing solidly at No. 1, with $44.2 million, $123.4 million, two weeks; keeping "Captain Phillips" opening at No. 2, with a strong $26 million.

3. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," $14.2 million, $78 million, three weeks; 4. "Machete Kills," $3.7 million, opening; 5. "Runner Runner," $3.7 million, $14.1 million, two weeks; 6. "Prisoners," $3.6 million, $53.6 million, four weeks; 7. "Insidious Chapter 2," $2.6 million, $78.4 million, five weeks; 8. "Rush," $2.3 million, $22.2 million, four weeks; 9. "Don Jon," $2.3 million, $20.1 million, three weeks; 10. "Baggage Claim," $2 million, $18.21 million, three weeks

Unreel, Oct. 18:

"Carrie," R: The Brian De Palma horror classic is updated with Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role that Sissy Spacek played. The storyline is similar to the original. Julianne Moore also stars. Kimberly Peirce directs.

"Escape Plan," R: Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in the action-thriller about an escape from a super-maximum security prison of the future. 50 Cent and Vincent D'Onofrio also star.

"12 Years a Slave," R: A free black man from upstate New York is abducted and sold into slavery in antebellum United States. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars. Also starring: Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Michael K. Williams. The film is based on a book written in the mid-1800s based on a true story.

"All is Lost," PG-13: After a collision at sea, a sailor fights for his life. Robert Redford stars in the action drama.

Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press web site, thelehighvalleypress. com and the Times-News web site, Email Paul Willistein:

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


October 2017


Twitter Feed

Reader Photo Galleries