‘Gravity’ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated August 23rd, 2014 at 12:38 am,

Gravity Reviews Starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock directed by Alfonso Cuaron Gravity Review

Gravity tells the harrowing account of specialist Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a scientist-turned-fledgling astronaut working on a space station that is suddenly obliterated by an onslaught of space debris. In the midst of the calamity Ryan is thrown “off structure” and into vastness of space, with only veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) still able to hear her cries for help.

What follows next is a step-by-meticulous-step bid for survival in the harsh realm of the cosmos, as Ryan must not only best physical obstacles, but also the mental/spiritual obstacles standing between her and the will to survive.

The brainchild of acclaimed Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter 3Children of Men), Gravity is nothing less than a stunning visual achievement wrapped around a solid storyline and yet another surprisingly good performance from Sandra Bullock. In short: it is one of the top cinematic experiences of the year (so far) – arguably one of the top cinematic achievements of the last few years.

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in Gravity Gravity Review

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in ‘Gravity’

From the very first segment – a one-take tracking shot that clocks in at approximately 10 – 15 minutes – it is clear that, visually speaking, Curaón has created an experience unlike anything previously seen in cinema. It’s likely that film school essays will be written on this film for years to come, so to keep things in simple perspective: Cuarón is already hailed as one of the few true auteurs in modern cinema, and this is definitely his masterpiece. From the breathtaking cinematography and photography, to the impossible (but astounding) camera movements – to the visual concepts and set pieces that make genius use of outer space physics – this is directorial talent and imagination on a whole other scale.

Even when the technology hits a wall (some moments in the film fall into that CGI “valley of the uncanny”), the ambition of what’s being done, at the level it’s being done, fills in for the deficiencies in F/X.  3D viewing is a must, IMAX if you can. Gravity is prime example of what so many film fans want: new filmmaking formats (like 3D IMAX) actually being used to further expand and push the boundaries of cinematic art and storytelling. And thanks to Cuarón, it’s all masterfully handled in this film.

Gravity IMAX 3D Visual FX Effects Gravity Review

Usually I ‘m not one to address a film’s sound design in a review – but with Gravity it is a must. The filmmakers’ understanding of their unique setting (space) allows them to play with the relativity between sound and visuals in a way that few other films get the opportunity to. Immense danger flies in on silent wings; the only rhythm to a scene of blockbuster-style destruction is the breath and whimpers of the lead actress, etc. This is a movie that commands the ear’s attention as much as it does the eye’s, and the interplay between the sound effects and composer Steven Price’s (The World’s EndAttack the Block) grandiose score  - think Kubrick meets Hans Zimmer –  elevates everything that Cuarón is doing visually, resulting in a complete feast of sensory experience.

Gravity is a landmark in filmmaking, sure, but on paper the story it tells is (slightly) less remarkable. The script was co-written by Cuarón and his son Jonás; it is, admittedly, a very lean and efficient piece of thrilling dramatic storytelling, with the writers also managing to inject some larger themes and deeper emotions into the proceedings. However, when one pulls back and examines it, Gravity is also a somewhat standard point-A-to-B survival thriller, which relies on many familiar  - at times cliche – sub-genre tropes.

Sandra Bullock in Gravity2 Gravity Review

When the chase is on, things are great; when we stop for those inevitable moments of breath-catching (pun intended), the movie is still good, just not great. And because we are watching a chain of A-B-C disasters and challenges unfold into one another, moments of breath-catching in the film (a.k.a., clearly marked moments of character and thematic development) tend feel even more extraneous and melodramatic – especially when there is just one character onscreen to juggle them. Still, a film does require narrative development and the Cuaróns find a pretty strong emotional through-line to follow; however, when the action and visuals take a back seat, Gravity definitely loses some of its gravitas, and could arguably be criticized as watching Sandra Bullock float around space for an hour and a half (though such reductive thinking would be highly specious, given the revolutionary design and execution of the film).

Thankfully, the cost of those developmental moments is tapered by another good performance from Bullock. The actress proves to be a smart choice, in that she is able to find the pitch-perfect balance required to play a character who is normally highly-intelligent, resourceful, witty (and deeply damaged), but has been thrown into a situation of unimaginable panic and fear. The role requires everything from multi-layered and subtle emoting (often in close-up camera frame) to some dizzying “wire-fu” acrobatics, and Bullock delivers on all fronts in highly convincing and impressive fashion. (NOTE: Sigourney Weaver never had worry about a three-dimensional scene in nothing but her space skivvies, but Bullock manages to own that moment, too!)

George Clooney in Gravity Gravity Review

As the only other actor we really see onscreen, Clooney is definitely going to be the more divisive element of the film. The character of Matt Kowalski is a smart and suave foil to Stone’s  inexperienced and panic-stricken character; however, what is going to distract some people is the fact that they are ostensibly watching George Clooney riffing on his own suave-guy persona, down to mid-crisis flirtations with his leading lady. Depending on how you feel about Clooney, the acting choice could irk you; then again, Kowalski does bringing the only real levity and relief from a lot of well-staged tension, and Clooney does gallows humor pretty well, so take all that for what it’s worth.

(NOTE: Yes, that voice from Mission Control you hear in the film is actor Ed Harris, in case it was bugging you.)

In the end, Gravity is one of those movie events that comes around once in a great while to remind us why theatrical viewing still holds potential for a unique and unequaled cinematic experience. As a story and character vehicle for Bullock, it would still rate as a four-star movie – but given what Cuarón has done here for film as a medium, Gravity is nothing less than a five-star 2001 space odyssey for a whole new generation of movie lovers. Take the ride.

517873709 4 620 439 Gravity Review

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Gravity is now in theaters. Is is 90 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.

Want to hear the Screen Rant Editors discuss the film? Then check out our Gravity episode of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast.

Follow me @ppnkof 

Our Rating:

5 out of 5
(Masterpiece)

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  1. Okay now I have to see it.

  2. I saw this last night and wow. I was surprised on how good this movie really was and especially with Bullock. The visual effects were just top notch and the best I’ve seen this year. The script/storytelling was just amazing and surprisingly Bullock pulled in a performance of the year. There were some scenes that were awesome/scary/breathtaking. I am going back tonight and on Sunday with friends and family as this is just a must see movie IMO. I agree, it’s a 5/5 stars and if screen rant puts it that high it must be good

  3. Seen it. Loved it. Liked the 3D effects.

    • Spoilers are a tricky thing. I’m sure Donny meant no harm.

      All the same: Donny I’ve edited out the portions of your comments that MIGHT be considered spoilerish.

      • Hey Kofi,

        If you wouldn’t mind… You can just edit out this whole section considering the replies to his comment don’t make any sense now and still contain “spoilers”. :) You rule.

  4. Saw it last night. Incredible! Definitely a must see in theaters. Don’t wait for redbox or netflix

  5. Going to go see it today!!!! So excited!!!!

  6. Also, on a side note, if you see this movie, please see it in 3D IMAX. This movie is what the 3D experience should be along with the visual effects. Pacific Rim was a great visual film but I must admit that this film just surpasses that in every way. A must see experience at the big screen

  7. 5/5 on screenrant ? IMPOSSIBRUUU

  8. Well worth a 5 out of 5. Best movie ive seen all year a masterpeice indeed

  9. “Star Trek” and “Stargate” have done this one the small screen. Turning the concept into a large screen experience might be worth the price.

    Nice review.

    • Fixed: on

  10. Hans Zimmerman?? Lol who’s that?

    • A composer who killed a little boy. :-P

      • A “little boy” who was six feet tall, 180 lbs. and on top of him beating the sh*t out of him? I’d say that “little boy” had it coming- not because of his ethnicity, but because of his actions. :D BTW, Kofi, learn to f*cking proofread, your article is riddled with grammatical errors.

        • @Cave-ish Man

          I was poking fun at my own mistake. Calm down, dude.

          And if you are going to call out mistakes, be constructive and point a guy to the actual mistakes so he can correct himself.

          TGIF. Try to relax.

        • Both your comments regarding the murdered Martin and your general rudeness make your moniker all the more appropriate. The irony of standing your ground while armed and inappropriately stalking and harassing an unarmed, teen-aged passerby is lost on you, obviously. That was a case of a paranoid, racist wannabe cop who is such an unqualified wuss that, against police orders, he chases a kid and gets in a fight where he is so over-matched that he feels he must shoot the kid to survive the confrontation he so badly wanted. Your opinions suddenly carry no weight.

  11. Damm!!!!!! That’s the highest rating I’ve witnessed at Screenrant. I will be seeing this…….

    @Kofi Outlaw

    Thanks for the review man, as always very well written reviews and spot on!

  12. History Channel’s Universe series had footage from Joseph Kittinger’s free fall from space. If you watch it on a large screen tv, the video makes you feel isolated and tiny. You start to realize how small we are in comparison to the universe. Its crazy stuff.

    Joseph Kittinger’s Footage (No CGI)
    Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw8OJJQ_hgk

    • I cannot wait to see how “Gravity” messes with everyone’s perceptions and depth of field.

  13. This is one movie that I will see in IMAX 3D. It looks great!

  14. Going into this article, I was gonna ask “has there ever been a five star rating for a movie here” and I got my answer.

    • There has been some

    • the last one was for The Raid. dont know about any before that

  15. 5 out of 5? That’s awesome. The review makes it sound more like 4.5 or 4 out 5, though. Well, it doesn’t matter. This will be the one movie that I’ll actually watch in 3D.

  16. Just saw this movie in IMAX theatre, I tell you that it worth every of my cent. Amazing Acts, Amazing CGI , Amazing Long Take shoot. This movie require to watch in theatre to get full 100% experience.

  17. NO WAY! Wow! Now I’m even more interested in seeing this movie than before! I trust you guys’ reviews, so far it’s been spot on.

  18. FIVE STARS?!?

    When was the last time SR gave out 5?

    • I know! It was The Raid: Redemption! (Yes, I went and scrolled through all of the former reviews to find this.)

      • Hmmm… doesn’t make that 5 sound so good now.

        Raid was only okay for me (I like Dredd better… same premise).

        I guess I’ll have to see it for myself… in 3-4 months when it’s out on DVD. :)

  19. I saw the first trailer, thought it looked stupid. Saw the first poster, thought to myself, “What on earth could be good about Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in space?”

    Then I read the first good review. And then the eighth good review. And then the 30th good review. And I just kept thinking “what makes this good???”

    And now this. I am seeing it this weekend because I just NEED to know why this movie has critics rolling on the ground in ecstasy.

    • Try 207 good reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Fricking 98%, at the moment!

  20. 5? Holy crap!

  21. I’m even more excited to see it. Are you guys going to review the Godzilla footage soon? http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x15jxso_godzilla-trailer_shortfilms?

  22. “Gravity is nothing less than a five-star 2001 space odyssey for a whole new generation of movie lovers. Take the ride.”

    I’ll definitely be taking the ride (largely because of this this review, and despite disliking Sandra Bullock as an actor), but as someone who didn’t like ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ that much, I really don’t know if I’m going to enjoy it :(

    @Kofi (or anyone who’s seen it), if you had to compare the two (Gravity and 2001), would it only be in terms of visual aesthetic and revolutionary film-making techniques or does the story, characters, pace, tone, etc. also compare?

    • For me, I would say more along the lines in terms of visual aesthetic and revolutionary film-making techniques. The story does have it’s flaws at times but it’s soo minimal that it doesn’t take away from the experience.

  23. I know this might be off topic but with such great visuals this movie has Alfonso Cuarón should go from space to the ocean and do an Aquaman movie just imagine how Atlantis would look.

    • I was actually thinking the same thing. If he applied the same visual effects for underwater and it comes out just as good then Aquaman could be something special

  24. I fail to see the hype behind this movie.

    Sure, it’s a good, maybe great film. The special effects are wonderful.

    I didn’t have much of a connection with Bullock’s character, which is a major problem for a film like this. Obviously, this film may work for some, but may not work for others. Anyone else feel the same way?

    Lastly, 5 stars, to me, implies perfection, and it’s obvious that the film isn’t perfect. I recognize that this is Kofi’s opinion of the film, so I won’t belabor the point.

  25. UG, now I want to see the movie. But it is very hard for me to sit through a movie with George Clooney. Decisions, decisions….

    • God someone who understands me, I like Sandra Bullock, is she enough to go to a theater simply because of her presence? No, but I’d be SO much more willing to go see this if Clooney wasn’t in it, He’s is so god damn awful it’s not even funny.

    • Never got the hate for george Clooney, but this was an incredible movie that should be experienced by anyone. See it. You’ll see that you didn’t have to worry about Clooney.

  26. Just got home from seeing it and oh my goodness, that was amazing! Everything from the visuals to the sound editing to the soundtrack! Loved it :D

  27. I just saw the film and it was the best film I’ve seen this year.

    But this is a hard film to rate because essentially it should have two ratings: the story and acting, and the technical masterpiece that it is.

    I think had I waited and watched this film on DVD in a few months I would have said: that was pretty good.

    Watching it at the theater, in 3D I found it outstanding. This film is truly meant to be an immersive experience. It is on some level a ride and to experience this you need the 3D and large screen.

    So, having said all of that there is one thing about the film that’s driving me crazy because as I watched the film to its conclusion I had a thought that I haven’t heard anyone mention–a possibility of something with the plot that may change the way the film is viewed.

    I really need to see it again to see if I’m looking for something that isn’t there–which is probably the case.

    Of course none of this makes any sense right now because I can’t mention it without spoiling the film. But maybe when the film is out for awhile and everyone has seen it I’ll see if anyone else sees it, or not.

    Anyway–great film–in 3D.

  28. ‘Gravity’ was a great movie,it truly deserves all of the praise its getting,IMO,this is the 21st century cousin of ’2001 A Space Odyssey’,with a tiny bit of the first ‘Alien’ movie when you consider Sandra Bullocks strong performance.A MUST IN IMAX 3D,or at LEAST in 3D.

  29. A must see in IMAX 3D. 4.0 out of 5.