By Ryan Maddux and Andy Stuckey
---- — New in theatres this week is Gravity (PG-13), the latest from director Alfonso Cuaron.
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock costar as astronauts who are stranded outside of their space shuttle after encountering space debris.
Ryan: The first truly great film of 2013 has arrived. Gravity is an astonishingly visually rich film that also captures the magic of watching a movie on the big screen. Cuaron also directed one of the best films of the past decade — the futuristic sci-fi drama Children of Men. And now with Gravity I would say that his status as a must-see filmmaker is secure. It is a very short list of directors (Kubrick, Spielberg, Scott and Cameron) that have produced multiple sci-fi films that transcend its genre. I would add Cuaron to that shortlist. Gravity is an immense achievement of not only visual storytelling but also of good old-fashioned movie storytelling as well.
Andy: It is a rare treat to have such a top notch film released in early October. The talent involved here suggests that Gravity would be a very good movie, and I feel comfortable saying that Gravity exceeded my expectations. For a movie to work with such limitations on the actors, you have to have two very convincing leads. Clooney and Bullock are two of the most likable stars in Hollywood, and covering them with space helmets does nothing to change that. They both excel here with very unconventional performances, spending the entire movie in zero-gravity environments.
Ryan: The optical flair of Gravity including Cuaron and company’s technical brilliance is on full display. Whether it is the opening 13 minute tracking shot or the breathtaking action of the debris scenes, the look and visual marvel of Gravity cannot be over-stated. But I would also say that the narrative themes the movie explores —loss, suffering and rebirth – ground the movie in a relatable manner. Like any great sci-fi film, Gravity entertains and engages.
Andy: The real star of this film is Alfonso Cuaron, whose vision and attention to detail is on full display here. The opening sequence that seamlessly follows three astronauts as they space walk around their shuttle, meandering from one to the next while giving stunning views of earth and artfully placed reflections off of the glass space helmets, is stunning. To put together such a beautiful and intricate film that is visually compelling while telling a gripping story is a true achievement that will likely be recognized when the Oscar nominations are announced.
Ryan: One of the other strengths of Gravity is not just Sandra Bullock’s lead performance but the fact that a female leads the movie. Very few sci-fi films showcase such a strong performance by a woman. And Bullock delivers her best performance of her illustrious career. I felt like there was a noteworthy feminine motif that permeated throughout the film and Bullock along with Cuaron’s daft direction delivers a classic sci-fi film with an empowering feminine message.
Gravity already feels like a quintessential film.
Final grade: A-.