One of the most anticipated films, post-summer, has to be the Alfonso Cuaron directed, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney starring Gravity. My own interest was high following seeing a few of the released clips from the film, depicting a mind-boggling amount of space destruction.
By the time the film was released a couple of days ago, the reviews were incredibly good. As of today, Gravity is scoring a remarkably high 98% positive among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a slightly lower -yet still quite impressive- 90% positive among audiences. Yet I’ve noticed rumblings in various sites from people who felt the movie was a let down, a beautiful visual spectacle that featured a decidedly less impressive story. Are they being contrarians…or do they have a point?
To begin, Gravity’s effects are among the very best I’ve ever seen in film. The movie is, if nothing else, a visual spectacle and if you’re going to see it, please go see it in the largest available movie theater screen possible (I caught it on IMAX 3-D, but unfortunately not at the biggest IMAX theater screen around these parts…for whatever reason, that particular theater chose not to air the film).
The movie’s opening sequence, approximately thirteen or so uninterrupted/uncut minutes showing us Earth, then the shuttle and its astronauts -and our introduction to Ms. Bullock’s Ryan Stone and Mr. Clooney’s Matt Kowalski- achieves what it sets out to do: Give us a sense of the wonder of being in outer space. This one long sequence concludes with one of the two biggest effects showpieces of the film: High speed debris hitting the shuttle and sending Stone flying away, helpless and lost in the cosmos.
Stone is soon rescued by Kowalski and the film follows the two as they try to make their way back to some kind of safety.
I’ll stop there because I don’t want to get too spoilery. However, I will say this: Not all those who criticized the film’s story were simply being contrarian. The fact is that in the end Gravity features a very simple story which some people far more clever than me noted was little more than “Open Water in space”.
Does that make the film bad? Not really.
However, the simplicity of the story eventually made me realize the movie is -let’s face it- all about those wonderous effects. Yes, there are some very tense sequences and both Ms. Bullock and Mr. Clooney acquit themselves very well in the film (Ms. Bullock in particular took on a dramatic role the likes of which I’ve never seen her do before, and she’s quite terrific). Yet there isn’t all that much there there and that fact was bound to impact my overall feelings for the film.
That is not to say Gravity is a high-tech visual “bust”. It is an exciting and interesting -if mildly limited- film that nonetheless is very worthy of your time…even if one could have hoped for perhaps a little more meat on those terrific visual bones. On a scale of one to five stars, with five stars being a bonafide classic, I would easily give Gravity 4 stars.
Therefore, with some mild reservations, I highly recommend catching it.