A new way of filmmaking or just a hyped up Hollywood space adventure?
After a collision with debris during a space walk, two astronauts find themselves in a repeating death trap as thousands of objects faster than a speeding bullet orbit the Earth every few minutes. They must travel to different space stations and satellites to find a way to Earth before they run out of oxygen.
The overall pace of the film is very slow and sees Bullock breathing for a full minute in a close up, shouting repeated phrases over and over again in a mad panic and has the most terrifying moment when she spins uncontrollably into space without any sign of stopping. This may bore some viewers, but for many it will pull them into the action and appears a lot more rewarding and intimate than glitzy action affairs with perfect characters dealing with disastrous situations without distress. It is this that makes Gravity an odd action thriller as although it has a blockbuster budget, director and stars, Alfonso Cuarón deliberately makes the film as small a drama as he can manage, given the setting, and this approach makes the film unique and unstoppably gripping.
The film’s most memorable styling however is the non-stop use of CGI to create the space effects. This means that droplets of water, fabrics and people all move and react to other objects in different ways; when mixed with the direction, this makes the film an experience that the common man or woman has never seen before: a realistic gateway into space itself. The film uses this to display the universe as we’ve never seen it as astronauts float next to satellites admiring the Earth or watch the stars. It becomes a film that is beautiful from the start to finish and doesn’t mind taking the time to show it.
Gravity has undoubtedly raised the stakes on films set in space, and makes all of its competition in cinema look ridiculously simple and unrealistic. No doubt there will be a lot of imitators in the next few years; science fiction films will never look the same again.
On its release Gravity dominated the box office in America and also did well in the UK, but what really attracted audiences was the unique insight into space itself and a gripping action packed story to boot.