Gravity is Making Jaws Drop

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By Megan Cohen

It’s far too often that one watches a movie trailer and thinks it’ll be a hit before seeing it months later, only to be met with disappointment.  In the days leading up to the premiere of celebrated director Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, there were multiple predictions that this film would earn a similar reaction. However, with renowned figures in cinema such as James Cameron calling Gravity “the best space film ever done,” and astronaut Buzz Aldrin claiming to be one of the film’s number one fans, people are changing their tune.

In Gravity, Dr. Ryan Stone (her father wanted a son), portrayed by Sandra Bullock, is on her first space mission. Aboard the Explorer, she’s working alongside veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who is in the final frontier for the last time. When multiple waves of space debris start drifting towards the Explorer, Stone and Kowalski end up being the sole survivors of a ghastly incident that forces the two of them to fight to survive in a place where life is impossible.

While Bullock and Clooney certainly lived up to expectations, their performances are not what makes Gravity the masterpiece it is. There is no point during the movie when you begin to grow bored and think the scene is dragging on: Each minute enthralls you as you frantically wonder what is in store for the two astronauts that the audience begins to sympathize with — you genuinely hope they survive the ordeals that come their way.

Compare a movie like Space Camp to Gravity and you’ll see how far the world of cinema has come with creating the cosmic emptiness that is space. While it is definitely portrayed as a highly dangerous place where you can easily breathe your last, Gravity also offers an awe-inspiring look at space’s sheer beauty. Between Kowalski watching the sunrise over the Ganges and the view of the Northern Lights from up above, Cuarón shows how breath-taking space really is in both the metaphorical and literal sense.

The most captivating scenes, however, would have to be of Dr. Stone and Kowalski evading the space debris in a fight for their lives. The lack of sound in space makes it interesting, as the collisions that occur throughout the film emit nothing but a muted bumping sound, while there would surely be more of an audible impact on Earth. But this does not keep the scenes from being any less heart-stopping. With the debris’ path being hard to predict, you have no idea whether or not a single piece will stray far enough to hit one of the astronauts and kill them.

Gravity isn’t just a sequence of action, however. Dr. Stone remembers the loss of her young daughter and has a brief interaction with a Greenlandic fisherman via radio in which he sings to his infant daughter, leading to a few moments where tears can be shed even by more steel-hearted viewers.

The film’s premise may be simple enough, but the journey one takes while watching Gravity is anything but. Losses are mourned, breaths are held, and survival is celebrated as Dr. Stone and Kowalski try to find their way home. While you may be sitting in the theater, it feels as though you actually experience the horror of spinning recklessly through space or trying to live off of a small amount of oxygen, making it safe to say that Cuarón has truly delivered.

Obviously, there are reviews here and there that suggest the movie could have been better, but for the most part, Gravity has received critical acclaim. There are already multiple predictions that an Academy Award or two may come into the picture. Variety wrote of Bullock possibly being up for nomination for her performance, while Ryan Lambie from Den of Geek! pondered whether or not Gravity would be the first science-fiction film to win an Oscar for Best Picture, confident nonetheless that it would at least be nominated. Only time will tell if the Academy agrees with a majority of the major Hollywood critics. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, for Gravity is a movie good enough to stand on its own.