PORT ARTHUR —
This is the third week in a row that we’ve seen a very good film open up at the local multiplex. This time around, it’s Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity,” a film that has its eye set on Oscar glory. By my reckoning, those Oscar nods are very well deserved, both in the creative and the technical categories.
Sandra Bullock stars as astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone, the mission specialist rookie who finds herself outside of the shuttle when they’re hit by space debris. Dr. Stone is knocked free and left drifting in space, with only fellow astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) there to help them get back to safety.
All of this is shown in a spectacular opening sequence that will take your breath away. Director Cuarón once again uses long, uninterrupted takes where the camera gives us Dr. Stone’s terrified point of view before turning around and showing her flailing about in a sea of inky nothingness. That thirteen minute opening take is bravura filmmaking that sets the tone for the rest of the film.
“Gravity” begins with this tense sequence and never relents. This is a ninety minute immersive experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat during the entire movie. I don’t think I took one breath during the entire film, worried about the astronaut who was running out of her own air supply.
Part of this tension is achieved by stunning special effects work. Using state-of-the-art filmmaking techniques, Cuarón captures the unnerving terror of the situation, as well as the unmistakable beauty of outer space. The weightless astronauts are completely believable, to the point where you’ll leave the theater feeling like you were actually up there on the doomed space mission.
Bullock gets the other big round of applause here, playing a woman desperate to survive. Bullock has always had a girl next door quality that suits her well in this role. Her survival is always in doubt because she comes across as an everywoman who’s ill-equipped to deal with such impossible odds. She is the perfect casting choice, a pleasant surprise given that this role was initially offered to nearly every actress in Hollywood before Bullock took the role.
That was a smart career choice, as “Gravity” is destined to be one of the year’s best films. This is literally, out-of-this-world filmmaking from a director who knows how to combine rich screenwriting with spectacular visual images. Don’t wait for this one to come to home DVD. “Gravity” is an amazing film that deserves to be seen up on the big screen.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at email@example.com.