I've always heard the rumblings. But after finally getting a chance to screen the upcoming sci-fi drama, Gravity, it goes without question that director Alfonso Cuarón is one of the most ambitious filmmakers on the planet, and perhaps beyond. It's been 7 years since the Mexican-born director captivated audiences with his previous groundbreaking work, Children of Men. And if one thing's for certain, it's the fact that Cuarón constantly struggles to out-perform himself. Just takes the soon-to-be instant classic, Gravity, for example. Even renowned director James Cameron is calling it "the best space film ever done". That's high praises from someone who always strives to raise the bar himself. Enough said.
Dr. Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock) is on her first space mission along with a team led by the aging astronaut, Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), who is overseeing his final voyage. However, during a routine spacewalk, debris from a satellite comes crashing into their space shuttle killing the rest of Stone and Kowalsky's team. Stranded in space with no contact from earth and a nearly depleted air supply, the pair of astronauts must work together to survive the ordeal.
There are countless aspects of Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity that deserve to be commended. With an uncut 13 minute opening scene that's completely mind-blowing and inarguably impressive, the director's latest work begins without a hitch. Then, once Gravity has hooked the audience with a tension-filled first act, Cuarón's film whisks along effortlessly like an astronaut in zero-gravity all the way to an astounding conclusion. And if this newest sci-fi drama doesn't sound pleasing enough, its triumphant visual effects are so mesmerizing that they can probably start handing over the Oscar statues for most of the technological categories already. Aesthetically brilliant and wonderfully paced, Gravity feels like the sure-fire Best Picture contender that many predicted.
While I enjoyed Alfonso Cuarón's long-awaited return, there are certain elements of the feature that irked me. First, there's no question about it, George Clooney steals the show. So much, in fact, that it almost detracts from Sandra Bullock's widely-lauded role. Although I'm a long-time fan of the Academy Award Winning actress, I didn't "love" this performance. Once I recognized my complaint, I tried to break down the cause of the issue and I discovered that it stems from the movie's dialogue. When it comes to comic relief, the verbal exchanges are spectacular. However, during the more dramatic moments, I found the screenplay's dialogue to be elementary and trite. As a result, those pivotal onscreen scenes in which the audience is supposed to empathize with Bullock ultimately lack a "punch". Therefore, Gravity never reaches the cosmic heights we'd all expect.
One thing is for sure, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity offers filming techniques and space photography that is far beyond anything we've ever seen before. Thus, an unbridled appreciation is certainly in order. On the other hand, I freely acknowledge flaws in Cuarón's latest work. After viewing Gravity in the light of other epic survival stories such as Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, it's clear that it doesn't offer the same level of impact. But either way, Gravity is definitely a well-paced and gripping feature that deserves to be savored with a big-screen experience.