First of all, I want you to put aside all the "scientific facts" that this film ignores. There are already some articles out discounting what happens in this film. It's a movie! It's SCIENCE FICTION, not SCIENCE FACT.
Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way.
Here's my next directive. You MUST pay the extra money and see this film in 3D/IMAX. It's the only way to get the whole experience. Alright, that's it. Here's my review:
From the first moment of this film, I can tell you this is the closest us "regular folks" will ever be to experiencing what it's like to be in space. Sure we're not all weightless in the theater, but that emptiness, quiet, isolation is certainly felt. Those are just the beginnings of the roller coaster of emotions that Alfonso Cuarón takes us on in this film.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a newly minted astronaut working on the Hubble Space Telescope from the space shuttle. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is the experienced guy going for a record spacewalk. All is going to plan when they get word from Houston Mission Control (appropriately, the voice of Ed Harris) that there's a field of debris hurtling toward their location. (You've seen the previews, this isn't a big surprise.) Suddenly they're hit and all hell breaks loose. Stone and Kowalski are separated from each other and the shuttle. Stone is hurtling further into space, her only contact with Kowalski's voice. She goes into a panic, he gradually calms her down.
So what happens next? Repeatedly, I say in reviews, that I am NOT going to spoil how the whole thing plays out.
What I am going to do is tell you that this is more of an emotional journey (for both the audience and Bullock's character) than an action or sci-fi story. Cuarón co-wrote the film with his son Jonás. The two have come up with a tale that, while set in space, could have been set anywhere.
Bullock's character clearly goes through the five stages of grief, with a few more emotions thrown in to really get the audience chewing on their nails. I have not physically squirmed in my seat at a non-horror movie in years. Clooney is his typical snarky self, but his character becomes Bullock's conscience, talking her through a lot of the film.
The effects in this film are incredible. The weightlessness is amazing, the shots of the astronauts and the view back to Earth will make you gasp in astonishment. There are some single shots in this film, too, that just blew my mind with their beauty and symbolism. For me, this is a movie that as a film student I would have watched in class and had to analyze. I wish I could spoil the end, because it made so much sense.
Clooney's character provides a bit of comic relief at an appropriate moment, and in the end there is redemption. While there were some giggles at odd times, especially during the final scene. I do believe the audience I sat with enjoyed the film.
Overall it's an accomplishment in effects, screenwriting, and I'm sure it was a challenge for Bullock. She handles it with aplomb, and I couldn't imagine another actress in the role.
"Gravity" is rated, "PG-13" and runs 91 minutes.
You can read more from Mary Loos at her website, CinemaCynic.com.