Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film, Gravity, is a visceral experience that you will not soon forget. In fact, you will not have experienced anything else like it. Despite there being countless films set in the vastness of space, Gravity is the first to give you a true sense of what being in space is like. Cuarón creates a film that is so claustrophobic and tense, that you will feel as if it was you, and not Sandra Bullock or George Clooney, who had embarked on such a harrowing adventure.
Gravity is a film that is all about the experience. The plot is extremely thin, but effective. A medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), and an astronaut, Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), find themselves stranded in space after an event sends satellite debris into their ship. We know very little about the characters outside of Stone is still mourning the death of her young daughter, and Kowalsky is hoping to break the record for the longest space walk. Cuarón tries to sprinkle in contemplative moments about life and death throughout the film, but this only accentuates how shallow the characters are written. However, what Gravity lacks in character depth, it more than makes up for in sheer spectacle.
From the moment the first bits of debris enter the frame, Cuarón is relentless in providing a sense of panic and terror for the remainder of the 93 minute running time. Characters are whipped around on tethers, forced to navigate through debris travelling at high speeds, flipped uncontrollably while trying to stabilize themselves and subjected to a myriad of other deadly obstacles. The way in which Cuarón moves from one disaster to the next will no doubt draw comparisons to numerous video games. His use of POV shots alone will cause hardcore gamers to get their backs up in a “that is nothing new” kind of way.
The important thing to remember in those brief POV moments, and most of the film for that matter, is that it is not about who did what first, but rather how well is it done here. Gravity’s success and overall tension is largely due to the jaw-dropping technical mastery that is constantly on display. There are so many moments, whether it be a complicated long shot or the way the camera movements generate a sense of panic, that will insight many “how did they do that?” questions.
Again Gravity is not a deep film. There will surely be those hoping for a deeper science fiction film rather than a mere disaster film set in space. However, Gravity delivers on everything its trailer promised a few months early. A visually stunning film that is full of immense tension. Cuarón is not interested with aliens or philosophical discussion; he merely wants to depict the human instinct for survival in even the most extraordinary circumstances. He constructs an edge of your seat thrill ride that you will want to see on the biggest screen possible.