Gravity (2013) Review

Gravity (2013) Director: Alfonso Cuarón

“She was four. She was at school, playing tag. Slipped, hit her head, and that was it. Stupidest thing. I was driving when I got the call, so ever since then that’s what I do. I wake up. I go to work. And I just drive.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fitting predecessor to 2015’s The Martian, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, an engineer serving the Hubble Space Telescope while aboard the space shuttle Explorer. This is Ryan’s first space mission and it is under the command of Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Tragedy strikes when an accident occurs when the Russians shoot down one of their defunct satellites, the unintended cause of a crisis, suddenly a swarm of high-speed space debris is encircling the earth causing widespread damage. In the chaos, Stone and Kowalski are untethered from the Explorer and they are sent spinning into space. From here, it becomes a survivalist story.

Kowalski and Stone manage to reconnect and they drift toward the Explorer only to find it has been ripped apart and the rest of their crewmen have been killed. With oxygen levels running low, they leave the Explorer and decide to drift toward the International Space Station. However, upon arrival they notice that the ISS crew has evacuated in one of the two escape pods. Sadly, Kowalski decides to cut himself loose and drift deep into space where he will die a cold and lonely death. He does this in order to save Stone, who manages to survive and enter the ISS only to discover a fire so she attempts to escape in the station’s other pod, but its chute is stuck on the station until Dr. Stone manages to break free just as the high-speed debris comes roaring back again, effectively destroying the ISS. As she drifts away in the escape pod, she soon realizes that its fuel is empty. At first, she decides to end her life, but after a hallucination of Kowalski coming to her rescue, she decides to use the landing gear to make her way to the Chinese space station where she makes incredible use of a fire extinguisher to push through space and confiscate one of the Chinese pods used to re-enter earth’s atmosphere and she crash lands in a lake, survives near drowning, and swims to her freedom.

Needless to say, Gravity offers an incredible ballet of visual effects, something which is truly extraordinary in the history of moviemaking, and it also has a gripping score by Steven Price. With almost all of the film taking place in outer space, the cinematography takes us directly inside an astronaut’s helmet, listening to panicked breathing, spinning uncontrollably over earth, dodging debris, feeling entirely isolated, desperately clinging to life while floating into empty darkness. This is a white-knuckle thrill ride if there ever was one. Some prominent scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson have pointed out some minor flaws in the film, however these are mostly insignificant.

Gravity is primal, intense exploration on the nature and limits of life. Watching a movie like this makes leaves a deeper appreciation the safety of life on earth. But on another level, Gravity is a movie about the elemental desire to rise up and overcome adversity, depression, personal loss, and escape the weight or “gravity” that comes with the absence of loved ones (in the case of Stone, her only daughter died in an accident at the age of four). Interestingly enough, the upbeat, sarcastic, friendly demeanor of Kowalski serves as an antidote to the isolation of Dr. Stone. Friendship is instrumental to the will to live. Gravity joins a list of other truly powerful movies by Alfonso Cuarón. –others include Y tu mamá también (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Children of Men (2006), and Roma (2018).

1 thought on “Gravity (2013) Review

  1. I admired Sandra Bullock for how she seemed to totally redefine herself for this movie. She was almost like an entirely new actress. Her formidable ability to act in harmony with all the special effects, with neither blinding us to the other, can rival how both Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood mastered their space scenes outside the Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Thank you for your review for Gravity in the year of its 10th Anniversary.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s