Sunday, November 3, 2013
Gravity is a 2013 drama (well, is it a drama? I guess you can’t call it anything else really) by the badass Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron. I hedge in calling it a drama because this movie is one of those rare flicks that is more of an experience than a movie. It’s not a story. There’s no arch, no character development (I mean, not really), no protagonist or antagonist. The best way I can explain it is like this. You know those moments in some dramas and thrillers where there is a really tense moment of escape or attempted escape? The train car is filling with water and it is slowly engulfing our hero and seems just shy of snuffing him/her out, when, bam, they find a way and escape. You know the moments I’m talking about.
Well, imagine if that moment was the entire movie. Trust me, I’m not saying anyone escapes, by the way, but the whole movie is a small group of people trying to escape a sudden horror that has befallen them. A small group of scientists and astronauts are doing their thang remotely via a shuttle while the rest of their team is back at the space station. While they’re getting their space walk on there is an explosion that fills the sky with debris. The explosion gives the debris propulsion and it is flying right at them and tears their shit up. Most die immediately and Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s characters are sent adrift. What does one do when they are flung off into space where there is no friction and nothing to grab onto? Hell, for a decent chunk of the movie Sandra Bullock’s character is literally flipping end over end and can’t stop doing so. With no communication equipment, no way to contact home, no shuttle, no landing equipment, no protection or maps, etc, how does one keep the myriad of things in space that want to kill you, from killing you? To make matters worse, Clooney’s character estimates that, given the speed and mass of the debris that it will take roughly 90 minutes before it goes around the earth and comes back to them and tears them a new space hole. Guess how long the movie is?
This movie is truly an experience. Cuaron does a mindblowing job of creating feeling and tension. I have never watched a movie that made me feel more stressed and on the edge of my seat, so to speak. From the first second to the last it is truly intense. There really is no other word to describe it. It is one of those rare thrillers where I felt it was perfectly possible that none of them would make it. Cuaron uses everything to help create this feel. For example, there is no sound in space. Imagine the possibilities there. The characters can’t use sound to know if anything is hurtling at them, ready to punch a hole right through them, and they can’t exactly see much, since, well, they’re wearing space helmets. Know what I mean? They use the lack of friction to scare you, the gravity, the speed of orbit and on and on. Every single frame of this movie is meticulously designed to be straight up intense. Damn, it’s good. If you want a movie about the beauty of space, skip it, but if you want your pants scared right off, then this is your joint.