Gravity: To See It Is to Be In Space

Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

Some movies are more than just a movie: They are an experience that transcends film. Ben Hur took everyone to Ancient Rome before CGI effects even existed. Jurassic Park enchanted us into believing that we had just seen—for the first time in human experience—living, breathing dinosaurs. We left Lincoln thinking that we had just met the man himself and seen through a window into American history. These movies are rare and powerful.

Gravity is such a movie. We saw it last night in IMAX 3D and it was awesome . . . astonishing . . . amazing.

You Have Been in Space

You will leave the theater thinking that you have been in space. You have been weightless. You have looked down at the Earth from orbit. You will gasp in terror and hold your breath in suspense. I leaned forward to try and fit through the screen and see everything I could—not just the beautiful views but also the objects floating in space around me.

There are only two actors in @Gravity_movie, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. In one virtuoso scene, the camera watches Ms. Bullock tumbling through space, then closes in on her helmet to show her face while she tries to stabilize herself, then looks out through her helmet to show the readouts on the Perspex, then retreats through the visor to look back at her terrified face. It is a jaw-dropping scene.

Gravity is More Fact Than Fiction

The critics call it a science fiction movie but I thought it was really more science fact. Everything that happens in this film could happen today. There are no aliens, no asteroids, no space ships more evolved than the shuttle and the International Space Station. There is no war, no space battles, no plasma rays, no Death Star. Everything you see in Gravity is currently orbiting Earth. And when you discover the source of the catastrophe, remember what I said about Russian technology in yesterday’s post.

Some scientists have critiqued this movie for technical reason and that is their right. I leave such commentary to people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) who are more qualified than I—and more concerned with such accuracy. I simply didn’t care.

Reviews of Gravity

I won’t review the movie because professionals have already done that and far better than I could. Here are some of those reviews:

Gravity, @Gravity_Movie, George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Alfonso CuaronThe Washington PostGravity works as both thrilling sci-fi spectacle and brilliant high art,” by Ann Hornaday.

“It goes without saying that “Gravity” must be seen in theaters to be appreciated; the prospect of watching this movie on anything less than a 40-foot screen is tantamount to listening to Beethoven through a tin can and a string. And this is that rare case when 3-D is essential. But in creating such a technical and artistic tour de force, Cuarón has not only brought back a sense of special-ness to the cinema, but also restored monumentality to its stars, making it a point to film Clooney and Bullock so that they loom as imposingly as the planets along with which they’re helplessly spinning.”

The Boston GlobeStrap in for the Astonishing Ride That Is ‘Gravity’,” by Ty Burr

“The most nerve-racking aspect of this catastrophe is its silence — millions of dollars of advanced technology, comsats, entire space stations, all ripping apart in a noiseless ballet. Stone, who’s established early on as something of a scaredy-cat, is cut free and Cuarón’s camera stays with her, inside and outside her helmet, as she spins through the void, fighting off immediate panic and then giving in to a greater one. How can anyone expect to find a needle this small in a haystack this infinite?”

The Wall Street JournalGravity Exerts Cosmic Pull,” by Joe Morgenstern

“More remarkable still, he (Director Alfonso Cuaron) has been able to translate his vision into a film that shows the world, and the filmmaking world, what wondrous new things big studio films can do. All too often in the recent past, Hollywood’s most magical tools have fallen into the hands of sorcerers’ apprentices who perpetrate the same old succession of explosions, car crashes and fireballs. “Gravity” was made by a sorcerer.”

I will just recommend Gravity to everyone.

See Gravity in the Theater

Gravity is not a movie to see on TV (no matter how big) or on (dare I say it) a tablet or smart phone. This is a movie to experience on the big screen. If you can choose 3D, do it. If you can make it to an IMAX 3D theater, make the pilgrimage, even if you have never done so before.

You will watch #Gravity with astonishment and you will leave the theater having spent an hour and a half in space.

NOTE: At next year’s Academy Awards, Sandra Bullock will collect another Oscar for this outstanding performance.