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'Gravity' is a masterpiece

By Alex Sferrazza
On October 7, 2013

Every once in a while, a film comes along that rewrites the rules and changes everything.
"Gravity" is the finest film ever shot in 3D, makes the best use of the IMAX format ever, contains the most breathtaking special effects ever seen and stands as nothing less than one of the single greatest achievements of modern cinema.
Fear, dread, isolation, awe, triumph, tragedy: chances are, if you have any shred of humanity these are but a few of the emotions you will experience over the course of this 90-minute thriller.
Set in the fictitious near future, astronauts Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) are performing a space walk during a Space Shuttle service mission. Things go awry after the destruction of a satellite sends debris hurling toward their present location. After the disaster strikes, contact with Mission Control is lost and the entire crew, sans Stone and Kowalski, has perished. The two survivors must face the grim reality that they are alone, adrift in space.
The brainchild of director Alfonso Cuaron, previously best known as the director of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Gravity" marks the filmmaker's first theatrical release in seven years.
The amount of thrilling suspense and exhilaration in the film can be attributed to the directors handling of heavy themes featured in the picture. Fear in the face of imminent death, the darkness and loneliness on experiences in space, religion, the purpose of living, and the will and determination of the human spirit. Alfonso Cuaron handles these sensitive subjects with utmost care and precision. Whenever Dr. Stone is found in an understandably stressful situation, the audience feels as though they're right there with her.
Steven Stone's solid score also fantastically compliments these events.
It seems as though in these past few years that we, the audience, have become spoiled by a continuous series of mega special effects laden blockbusters. As films today continue to make overuse of CGI technology, with each release seemingly appearing flashier and "better" (complete with expenses numbering well into the hundreds of millions), it has become all but to easy for us critics to forget what true innovation looks like.
Nearly all of the footage featuring the actors in the film shows them in weightless zero gravity. Accomplished in earlier films such as "Apollo 13," the effect in "Gravity" is so convincing, you could almost swear the film was shot in space.
There are no aliens or battles. The film makes use of special effects that compliment and tell a somewhat realistic drama. Unlike most modern blockbusters, the incredible effects aren't the "stars" of the show, but rather compliment the narrative in the most spectacular of ways.
CGI or otherwise, the spectacular views of Earth seen in the film are the most beautiful images we've ever seen of our planet. It's made all the more memorable thanks to Cuaron's long continuous shots that truly give the audience time to take in the view. And when seen in 3D, the view is unmatched by anything else you've ever seen.
The cinematography is equally impressive. The close-ups of Stone facing imminent doom, the first person views we occasionally glimpse and the multiple spacewalks are all brilliantly composed.
For the purposes of this review, I saw the film in IMAX. "Gravity" makes the case better than any other film that IMAX is without question the superior format for viewing motion pictures. The crystal clear and enveloping screen combined with the immaculate sound system help to seamlessly make anyone watching "Gravity" in the format feel like they're really drifting out in space. To put it another way, seeing the film in IMAX was a superior experience to riding "Mission Space" at Epcot.
There were some who criticized Bullock's Oscar win for "The Blind Side." Say what you will about that particular event, "Gravity" not only stands as concrete proof of the actress' acting chops, it is by far the best performance of Sandra Bullock's career. One can only imagine the discipline it took the actress to realistically portray a character facing certain death alone in the dark, unforgiving realm of space. Stone will easily go down as one of the greatest protagonists in the history of cinema, due in no small part to this incredible performance. It would be shocking to see Bullock not win an Oscar for her performance.
George Clooney, while not enjoying nearly as much screen time as his co-star, also does a great job playing the film's "straight man." As veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski Clooney provides both the calm and collected backbone that Ryan initially lacks while also providing the film with its only source of comic relief.
"Gravity" addresses the harsh and unforgiving realities of space better than any film in history. It's a piece that most perfectly exemplifies the human condition. For its entire duration, the film nails beat after beat, with not a single dull moment. It doesn't attempt to make a philosophical statement on the level of "2001." It doesn't overstay its welcome and unnecessarily lag on and on for hours. It doesn't try to be "bigger" or flashier than other blockbusters. "Gravity" succeeds because the director knows his film is a personal drama first and foremost, and a science fiction epic second.
"Gravity" features the most spectacular use of special effects in cinema history, tied into one of the most personal stories ever told. This is a landmark production, and if you do not see it in a theater (preferably in IMAX 3D) you are denying yourself one of the most exhilarating experience of you life. A masterpiece.
11/10


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