Many of us who grew up in the 60s have bemoaned our nation’s disinterest in the space program. I can’t forget the feeling I had when my family piled into the den to watch Neil Armstrong take those first magical, bouncing steps onto the moon in 1969. Sure, I’d been taught about Isaac Newton and the apple, but watching Armstrong that night really showed me what gravity is all about. In those days, astronauts were rock stars. And, although the popularity of space travelers has dimmed in the 44 years since that historic flight, writer/director Alfonso Cuarón’s breathtaking new film “Gravity” might just propel them right back into orbit.
“Gravity” stars Oscar® winner Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Oscar® winner George Clooney). On a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes, and the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone.
It’s almost hard to find the right words to explain the experience of seeing “Gravity”, because it’s not so much seeing as experiencing it. Not since “2001” has space been so magnificently realized. Cuarón has created a landscape so authentic that I felt a sense of isolation and cold despite being part of a packed theater audience.
As you would expect, Clooney is as solid as ever, but it is Bullock’s tour de force physical and emotional performance that seems destined to garner another Oscar nom. I can’t remember the last time I felt so involved in an actor’s portrayal – I actually found myself leaning forward – willing Bullock on as if my participation would affect the film’s ending.
“Gravity’s” script was penned by Cuarón and his son, Jonas, and Cuarón’s masterful direction is aided in no small part by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber.
After a long summer full of bloated action “blockbusters” clocking in 2 plus hours, it’s invigorating to see the right stuff. “Gravity” runs only 91 jaw dropping, heart stopping compact minutes.
The Bottom Line: “Gravity” is both edge-of-your-seat thrilling and visually spectacular. You should definitely see this one on a big screen, in 3D if you can. It will knock your socks off.
Rated PG, 1 hr. 31 min.