Gravity (2013)

Watching Gravity, it's clear that Avatar was just a tech demo. This movie is what happens when you take an amazing technology, and wield it using the emotional language of cinema to tell a powerful human story. Because of this, this movie will stand the test of time, regardless of its heavy reliance on visual effects.


Mind-blowing digital effects in the service of a gut-wrenching, emotional journey.

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The film opens with a spacewalk scene that will blow the mind of anyone who loves cinema. How did they manage to shoot such a complex scene? The nearly fifteen-minute long uninterrupted shot, with its sparse soundtrack, feels adequately weightless without the anchors of sound and camera cuts.

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The 3D is perfectly justified, perhaps for the first time in cinema history, as it helps us grasp the three-dimensional movements of objects on the screen. And after the laid-back banter of the opening scene, when the debris finally hit, the terror is visceral and all-encompassing. The absence of sound effects even as the astronauts’ world breaks apart around them, rather than take away from the terror, contributes to it immensely.

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A touching, understated counterpoint to the big set pieces, as Stone and Kowalski float around, held together by a single tether. The sense of isolation is all-encompassing. The tension is still there, thanks to Stone’s O2 meter, but it’s dialed back enough to give us a breather, while we learn why we should care about these two.

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The second wave of debris really highlights how utterly perfect the music score is. The movie bravely sticks to the realistic “no sound in space” approach, but still underlines the devastating impact of debris by employing deep, rumbling bass in a perfectly-orchestrated score. The scene ends on a perfect note, as Stone must let go of the rope that binds her to Kowalski.

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Now completely alone, Stone gets out of the space suit, and we get to see a weightless Bullock in a strangely intimate, almost fetal moment of devastation and exhaustion. We’re a bit miffed at this point that the movie stands on the shoulders of her character alone, because she’s not a particularly strong character: she seems to almost have a death wish, which is an odd choice for a survival story.

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We guess Clooney still had some elevating to do! His return is so cheerful and full of energy. He’s now here to save us from Bullock’s suicidal Stone, which is not helping Bullock’s character one bit. And he even brought the vodka!

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…and lo, Kowalski was never there. This moment is the heart-wrenching emotional core of a brilliant movie, and it resolves Stone’s character arc in a beautiful manner. Cinematic perfection. We’re sorry for what we wrote about you, Stone. We’re behind you now.

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After Stone worked through her pain and desire to give up, it’s impossible not to root for her with every fiber of our beings. And she struggles so hard through it all: the re-entry, the fire in the cabin, the capsule sinking, getting out of the drowning suit… LIVE, STONE, DAMN YOU!

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Stone shakily stands up on the beach, alive, triumphant, without a line of cheesy dialog to ruin the conclusion to a superb character arc. And as credits roll, you realize that all this while, you only ever saw two actors on screen.

2 Comments on Gravity (2013)

  1. It’s a classic. The blu-ray ‘making of’ content is almost as good as the film too. So Interesting. After being a little disappointed with Interstellar this weekend, I went home and watched this movie again.

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