Monday, October 14, 2013

Gravity is a stunning achievement

      Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is breathtakingly beautiful and nail bitingly suspenseful at the same time.   Cuarón has probably made the most effective use of 3D effects to date to tell a story that is at once both simple and profound.   Astraunts out on a fairly routine space walk to install some software in a telescope encounter trouble when an old satellite being demolished sends debris hurling towards them at devastating speeds.   Stranded and running out of fuel and oxygen the stories becomes a triumph of (wo)man over nature in the vast, uninhabitable nothingness of space.
       The special effects are front and center with jaw dropping sequences of astronauts spinning and floating into the endless blackness of space.  What sets the effects apart from other films is that instead of using the 3D for cheaper pop-out shock moments the effects here are used to grant a depth to everything that is happening.  You can stare deep into space, see the earth below or tiny light offering a beacon of hope in the distance.  There are a few instances of things jumping out at you, but they are used sparingly and thus more effectively that say the endless onslaught of weapons jumping out in lesser films like the more recent Resident Evil sequels.

      Aside from the impressive effects Gravity also boasts some of the best assets a film can have: a proper film director and two proper MOVIE STARS in the full sense of the word.  Cuarón is not the most prolific filmmaker but all of his work is incredibly solid.  From the sexy character piece Y Tu Mamá También to action fare like Children of Men or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (far and away the best film in the series) all of Cuarón's efforts have a confidence and effortlessness to them that sets them apart.  His directing prowess is match by two of the last remaining legitimate film stars in the world.  Sandra Bullocks gives an excellent performance that in lesser years would guaranty her awards, but this year is a tight race and being obscured by a helmet for most of the film can make it an uphill battle.  Clooney can be overpraised and overvalued but in the right roles, like here, he still has a charm and a strength of screen presence that few can match.  There is no question about it though, this is Sandra's film to carry and she delivers.

      A simple store, great film making and strong performances all work to support one of the most impressive technical feats in recent memory.  I usually think paying more for IMAX or 3D is a bit of a waste but Gravity is the rare movie that demands to be experienced to it's fullest, while it is still in theaters be sure to research and go see it at the biggest or best screen in your area this is a rare time where it is toally worth it.

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