Gravity Film Review

When Alfonso Cuarón‘s latest motion picture, Gravity (2013) emerged in cinemas a few months ago (released 7th November 2013), the trailers really didn’t make me jump out of my seat to get down the cinema and part with my cash. Considering Alfonso had directed the likes of Great Expectations (1998) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) in addition to producing the more recent Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) he had some good names under his belt so I was hoping for some great results from Gravity. For me at least the trailer presented a strong visual compilation of action but failed to really convey much of the underlying story line ultimately driving the film.

Official Gravity film trailer (UK)

Most of the reviews I’d read online boasted incredible special effects and a fully immersive 3D experience. I’m not a big 3D fan however as for me the whole thing just feels all a bit too gimmicky – I feel like I’m sat back in Disneyland at 10 years of age watching Honey I Shrunk The Audience(!) Once I got past all of the visual effects comments what was left presented quite a mixed bag of reviews online from critics and those appearing within my social feeds were also pretty inconsistent. With that in mind alongside the fact that Cineworld would charge £10 per ticket for the 3D experience (and at least the same again on refreshments) I passed up the opportunity to see this one on the big screen.

With both Bafta and Oscar nominations flooding in for Gravity it made me question whether I’d missed out on the opportunity to see a memorable piece of cinema history. So when Gravity finally hit Sky Box Office recently, I thought the £5.49 price tag was certainly worthy of resolving my curiosity.

The Film

Gravity commences with an unexpected 10 minutes of silence, immediately setting the scene and drawing you into the isolation and vacuum of space. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) are undertaking a routine spacewalk when a comet collides with a satellite setting off a chain reaction of debris and destruction around the Earth. What therefore follows is a serious of huge (silent) explosions taking place with the space shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS) and other stations getting destroyed whilst Dr. Ryan Stone attempts to save herself and find a reason to not give up despite the hopelessness of the situation she faces.

Visual effects

Even without 3D some of the scenes were incredible, looking great on my 40 inch TV with 5.1 surround. As with most 3D films it got a bit frustrating at times where there were obvious ‘made for 3D’ scenes injected into the movie e.g. the rather predictable debris spinning at and flying around the camera, but overall this was an impressive film to watch.

The Performance

The film did lack depth where we never really learnt much about either of the two leading characters however with a film like this, built for its visual effects, to be honest such detail wasn’t really needed.

Gravity was all about Sandra Bullock with George Clooney featuring in much more of a supporting role this time around. Personally I found his performance to be OK but certainly not memorable – years from now I’ll remember the leading actress but am likely to be hitting up IMDB to find out who the male lead was.

Bullock on the other hand was fantastic, putting across the emotion and desperation of the situation her character was facing incredibly well. As someone fascinated by space, despite the fictional nature of the film her performance was believable and really highlighted the dangers astronauts face each time they go into space.

Soundtrack

What really impressed me with Gravity was the soundtrack, created by Steven Price. Despite the silence of explosions and being able to hear the heartbeat of the actors there was always an underlying orchestral piece taking place during the action. I picked up on this very early on and could really feel the drama and emotion being portrayed through the music. A fantastic job and certainly deserving of the Oscar nomination and subsequent win that followed.

Oscars

Gravity was up against some serious competition at the 2014 Academy Awards, nominated in 10 categories and fighting it out with Steve McQueen’s 12 years a Slave for the prestigious Best picture. So how did Gravity fair?

Alfonso Cuaron wins at the Oscars with Gravity
Alfonso Cuaron wins at the Oscars with Gravity

Won

  • Best visual effects
  • Best sound editing
  • Best sound mixing
  • Best cinematography
  • Best film editing
  • Best original score
  • Best director

Nominated

  • Best picture
  • Best actress
  • Best production design

Not a bad effort considering the competition this year with Sandra Bullock losing out on Best actress to the impressive Cate Blanchet for her role in Blue Jasmine and Best production design going to The Great Gatsby.

Summary

Overall I thought the film was pretty damn good with Sandra Bullock giving her best performance to date and George Clooney’s role being rather forgetable. As it was a film built for and reliant upon its special effects in hindsight this was definitely one to be seen on the big screen. That said it was still fantastic on the small screen which combined with a good surround system had me fully engrossed in the action for entire film.

A fantastic film, entertaining and deserving of the Oscars it was awarded. Worth a watch – 9/10.

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