Freelance writer and journalist based in west London.
Published January 25th 2014
Spectacular Space Drama
Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is going about her business during a routine space walk to service the Hubble Space Telescope. It's her first shuttle mission. Veteran space shuttle commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is accompanying her; this mission will be his last. Things seem to be going fairly well, until Mission Control in Houston warns there could be a problem with space debris. Indeed, the debris arrives and the consequences are catastrophic; it ultimately leaves Stone and Kowalski completely alone in space with the task of finding their own way back to Earth.
This film is extraordinary. The ground-breaking way in which it is made puts the audience as close as many of them will ever get to experiencing what it is like to be an astronaut. It's designed to be watched in 3D. For anyone unsure about the whole 3D thing, this will change your mind, as it's the perfect example of how 3D can revolutionise the cinema experience. Then there's the human angle of the film; as Stone and Kowalski begin trying to save themselves, facts that you know about space hit home with startling clarity; the lack of control, the solitude. For most of the 90 minutes I was in the cinema, I was terrified. It's a fine example of a 'what would you do?' film.
As Kowalski, George Clooney does the job that's required of him in a way that you would expect him to. His performance isn't much to write home about, but there's no issue here because really, Sandra Bullock is the focus. If being able to carry most of a feature film on their own is the mark of a great actor, Bullock has made it. There aren't many actors who can engage you for that long or many that you'd choose to. But you don't bore of her character's attempts to get home and really root for her to succeed.
Just occasionally, Gravity runs the risk of teetering into the ridiculous, but each time, by a whisker, manages to pull itself back. (I also wasn't sure about the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves moment, but will forgive it in the circumstances.) It is no surprise it's makers and cast have garnered plaudits and nominations galore this awards season. Director Alfonso Cuaron has set the benchmark for films of this type and there will be no going back. But do watch it in 3D and on the biggest screen you can find. Gravity, and you, deserve it.