Gravity  (2013)

I have mentioned that I have a distaste for going to theaters to see movies. In this case, I really regret not seeing "Gravity" on the big screen. The visuals absolutely blew me away. It should win every award for Visual Effects for the rest of history, because it felt that perfect and beautiful. Honestly, I don't even want to know the behind-the-scenes, because I'd rather just believe it was really shot in outer space.

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are two astronauts, on a mission to fix a flaw in the Hubble telescope. Clooney is the veteran, experienced enough to be floating around with a personal jetpack, not tethered to the ship in any way. Bullock is the rookie, a scientist brought on to fix the problem. She displays the typical nerves you would expect from someone doing something for the first time, while Clooney is smooth and calm.

This might be the most terrifying non-horror movie I've ever seen.  From the first scene, just the simple visuals of the ship and the astronauts floating hundreds of miles above the planet was enough to mess with my stomach and my heart. When Felix Baumgartner did his Red Bull jump from space, he was about 24 miles up and the view made me queasy. "Gravity" it set about 300 miles up, and the scope of that is just insane. The idea of being that high up, combined with the existential crisis of realizing how small one person is compared to the world and especially compared to space, was enough to keep me freaked out and tense. And that's before the actual problems begin. An orbiting satellite is destroyed, resulting in shrapnel being blasted in orbit. The damage to the spaceship is catastrophic, and Clooney and Bullock are left to figure out a way to survive and make it home.

In regards to the acting, the main fault I have with Clooney and Bullock is that it feels like I'm just watching George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Clooney is charming and comforting, but able to quickly take charge and be authoritative when needed. Bullock also just seemed like "Sandra Bullock in space", and was never really able to convince me she was going through the peril of her character.

Neil deGrasse Tyson spent a lot of time breaking down "Gravity" and debunking a vast majority of it, but I've resisted reading any of his facts. To a casual observer, everything seemed like it made sense, with a few exceptions. Frankly, I'm amazed this sort of space tragedy has not happened in real life. It's well-documented that there is a giant debris field of random junk floating around Earth, and it is surprising that nothing has ever struck a manned spaceship or space station.

I've also heard the main complaint is that this is "all visual, no story", and I have to disagree. The visuals are overwhelmingly beautiful, but I think the story holds up just as well. Characters are introduced, a dilemma arises, and the characters have to solve it. It's a basic plot, but just about every movie can be broken down to that base level. "Gravity" worked for me in pretty much every way.

 

 

On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Gravity" gets a 9 out of 10.

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