TIFF 2013: “Gravity” – Review by MovieManMenzel

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A truly remarkable cinematic experience

Gravity is the latest film by director and writer Alfonso Cuaron.  The film focuses on a mission in space that becomes an astronaut’s worst nightmare when debris hits their ship and leaves them drifting in space hoping to survive. The film for the most part only features two actors; the first being Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone, and the other is George Clooney as Matt Kowalski. There are a few other people in the film, but taking the time to talk about them would be pointless. The only other person who is worthy of a mention is Ed Harris, who is never shown in the film, but rather just the voice of mission control.

I saw Gravity at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September and at that time wasn’t sure what to expect.  Before the screening began, I heard nothing but positive buzz at the festival and heard that everyone including James Cameron was raving about the film and labeling it “the best space film ever made.” After hearing that claim, I honestly was expecting to either be blown away by the film or be extremely disappointed with it due to the hype.

Gravity as you can tell by the very short plot description takes a very simplistic story and runs with it. While some can easily say that the story is nothing out of the ordinary, it is ultimately what Alfonso Cuaron did with this film that makes it so awe-inspiring. This is without a doubt a film that needs to be viewed in the theater preferably in IMAX 3D, because of how this film makes you feel. This is seriously a cinematic experience that I have never experienced before, which is why critics everywhere are raving about it.

Cuaron grabs his audiences right from the get go with this amazing shot of space that just sort of lingers and for a lack of a better description is simply stunning. The opening shot pretty much prepares you for the 90-minute experience you are about to embark on. Cuaron uses the camera in a way that those watching the film feel as if they are stuck in space with Ryan and Matt. Its one of those rare experiences where you as a viewer feel completely engrained in the film, which makes it feel more like a thrill ride than an actual film.

Honestly, while Clooney and Bullock are considered the stars of the film, I think the camera does all the acting. I know I am going on and on about this, but seriously the long shots in space, the visuals of debris just floating around, or one of the actors just drifting into open space as the camera slowly pulls back is just incredible. I truly feel that this is almost a horror movie in its own genre as it truly captures how scary it would be to be lost in space.

As for the actual acting in this film, I would have to admit that it is definitely good acting but ultimately is the weakest link to the film. At no point in this film do you ever forget that you are watching George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on screen. Yes, they are playing characters with different names, but honestly never throughout the films 90 minute runtime do you see these actors vanish off the screen and turn into these characters that they are suppose to be. If I had to pick the strongest actor in the film, I would have to say Ed Harris as the voice of mission control. His voice given the film’s backdrop is really kind of haunting and when it disappears it really helps adds to the overall tone of the film.

If I had to nitpick about anything else in Gravity, it would definitely have to be about the ending, which felt kind of forced and short winded. It is not that the ending was bad per say, it just sort of felt very anti-climatic compared to the rest of the film. This story could really only of ended one of two ways so I can’t really complain all that much, but I guess I would have liked a few extra minutes of closure before the ending credits began to roll.

All in all, Gravity is a real cinematic treat and is an experience that I have never experienced before. If you typically are someone who says, “I’ll wait till DVD to see that” I beg you to reconsider. This is a film that is well worth the theater prices and SHOULD be seen in a theater so that you can experience space like Cuaron intended. Bravo to Cauron for crafting one of the best space movies ever made and showing Hollywood that you don’t really need robots, cars, sexy women, or non-stop explosions to leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Gravity is a 8.5 out of 10.

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