Film Review: GRAVITY

GRAVITY is a glorious cinema experience, with awe inspiring visuals and a compelling human story ... Naomi

GRAVITY stars Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, a jaw dropping landscape and textured sound design. Sandra plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission with George as Matt Kowalski, veteran astronaut in command. 

From the start I felt close and intimate with the characters and the film grew tense quickly as I discovered their vulnerable position within a terrifying expanse of space. It's said that at 600km above Earth, the temperature fluctuates between +258 and -148 degrees Fahrenheit, there is nothing to carry sound, no air pressure and no oxygen. It's not somewhere I'd want to hang around for too long, after taking in the sights I'd want to get back to Earth pronto.

George Clooney's last scene made me giggle when I know it shouldn't, because he was so much like Buzz Lightyear.

GEORGE CLOONEY as Matt Kowalski and SANDRA BULLOCK as Ryan Stone in Warner Bros. Pictures' dramatic thriller "GRAVITY," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.Right now, orbiting hundreds of miles above the Earth, there are people working in space where there is very little separation between life and death. The dangers of spaceflight have grown over time and those increasing dangers are manmade. The refuse from past missions and defunct satellites has formed a debris field that can cause disaster in an instant. NASA calls it the Kessler Syndrome.

David Heyman, who produced GRAVITY with Alfonso Cuarón, attests, "This is a real issue. Every screw or piece of junk that has been dropped or left behind is orbiting at an incredible speed and if, or when, they collide, they create still more debris. It is life-threatening for the astronauts, the space crafts and possibly for us here on Earth, too."

SANDRA BULLOCK as Ryan Stone and GEORGE CLOONEY as Matt Kowalski in Warner Bros. Pictures' dramatic thriller "GRAVITY," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Sandra Bullock offers, "I used to think that astronauts wanted to go into space for the thrill and adventure. When I spoke to them though, I was so moved by their deep, deep love of that world and the beauty of Earth from their perspective, seeing the oceans and mountain ranges and the lights of the cities. It’s amazing to realize how small we are in this massive universe." And affirms, "It is heartbreaking to think about not only the destruction of this planet, but also about what we don’t see: the trash that is literally orbiting above us."

SANDRA BULLOCK in GRAVITY. Photo COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

For the making of the film, visual effects supervisor Tim Webber of Framestore suggested they create a completely virtual setting. As a result, GRAVITY became a hybrid of live-action, computer animation and CGI, with sets, backgrounds and even costumes rendered digitally.

The most crucial element in conveying the sensation of being in space was replicating zero gravity. The filmmakers employed a combination of groundbreaking techniques, wires were used, but veteran special effects supervisor Neil Corbould and his team devised a unique 12-wire rig, which, with the help of expert puppeteers, enabled them to "float" Sandra  for specific sequences.

For other scenes, the actors were secured onto specialized rigs that could rotate or tilt them at different angles, allowing the team to take advantage of more extreme angles with cameras mounted on giant computer-controlled robot arms, like those used in automobile manufacturing.

SANDRA BULLOCK in GRAVITY. Photo COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

GRAVITY was co-written by Alfonso Cuarón and his son, Jonás, marking their first official collaboration.

Alfonso Cuarón says, "Throughout the film there are constant visual references of Earth as this beautiful, nurturing place. And floating above it is a woman who is cut off from her nurturing self. We wanted to explore the allegorical potential of a character in space who is spiraling further into the void, a victim of her own inertia, moving away from Earth, where life and human connections reside. Amidst all the tools and effects, we were always clear that Ryan's struggle is a metaphor for anyone who has to overcome adversity in life and get to the other side. It is a journey of rebirth."

Scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' dramatic thriller "GRAVITY," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

From the moment disaster hit I was on the edge of my seat until the last frame. I loved the graceful movement of the characters and cameras, the stunning visuals and heart felt story and I'd recommend seeing GRAVITY in 3D.

Some of the key players...

Writers - Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón

Producers - Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman

Executive producers - Chris deFaria, Nikki Penny and Stephen Jones

Director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, who also DOP'd on Children of Men and The New World

Production design - Andy Nicholson

Editing - Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

Costume designs - Jany Temime

Visual effects - Tim Webber

Music - composed by Steven Price