<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
While the 3D isn’t great, the film itself is a short and concentrated burst of thrusters that will thrill you and chill you.
‘In space, no one can hear you scream,’ was the chilling tagline to the cult Sci-fi film Alien. Of course there was a lot of screaming in that film in the tiny space station with aliens and Sigourney Weaver establishing a character (Ripley) that would go down in space history as legendary.
In Gravity too, space is our set, our backdrop, our playing field but there are no aliens; there’s only emptiness and stark isolation with the intense fear of dying alone.
“Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission,” goes Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) jokingly but ever so prophetically. He then goes on to tell one of his probably made up stories as Houston listens in and interjects ever so occasionally. The voice of Houston control centre is that of Ed Harris, who is never seen. The last thing he tells our astronauts Matt and Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is that a Russian satellite has been shot down by the always-bad-guys the Russians themselves and the debris are wreaking havoc in their part of space so they need to abort the mission.
Their space shuttle damaged beyond repair, Dr Stone almost being flung into deep space only to be rescued by Kowalski and a jaunt across space with the luminescent Earth in the background follow. They must get to the International Space Station or the Chinese space station if they are to survive.
What works for Gravity is that it plays on our fears of being stranded, fighting for our survival against almost insurmountable odds with absolutely no one to help. And the fear of being lost in nothingness, dying alone in alien surroundings. Director, co-writer, producer and co-editor Alfonso Cuarón thrusts you into that abyss of darkness with stirring and ominous music by Steven Price interspersed with perfect moments of silence. Hats off to the excellent Sound Designers who worked on Gravity.
In the short period of 90 minutes there’s not much dialogue but lots of action and trepidation. Sandra Bullock is the star of the film as she straddles her demons and inexperience to claw her way across space. In a way she reminds me of Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the Alien films. More so when she comes out of that space suit in a singlet and black hot pants! My vote is for her if there’s ever an Alien Reboot.
George Clooney plays the supporting role like the gentleman he is. Kind, caring, compassionate, sacrificing and witty. The only grouse I have is that when he does take a swig of Russian vodka and then ‘goes away’ that Sandra doesn’t reach for it after. You’ll understand the significance of that better when you watch that scene.
Gravity isn’t a great film, the 3D is alright, but the drama is high, the brilliant camera work and CGI have been merged seamlessly, the editing is sharp and the sound magnificent. It’s not a space saga but definitely a space episode that is filled with tension and cinematic delight.