Gravity comes to the UK having taken an impressive $200+M dollars at the US box office on a budget estimated at only $100M. So why has this movie been such a huge success, rocketing its way to the the big box office earners of 2013?
Gravity has great pedigree of talent, namely Oscar winners Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone), George Clooney (Matt Kowalski) and Ed Harris (the voice of Mission control) as well as its Oscar nominated director, Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children Of Men).
The premise of the film is simple – Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on a routine space mission, which turns into a disaster when a Russian rocket causes debris from previous missions/satellites to spiral through space, destroying the space shuttle Explorer, as well as other space stations. The result Ryan’s chances of getting back to earth seem remote to say the least.
The reviews stateside have all been very positive and the phenomenal box office success is certainly not hindered by the very effective use of 3D. The third-dimension is integral to the plot, and it’s use in the film is incredible. It shows the very vastness of space as objects, as well as the debris hurtling towards the astronauts… and the audience!
The movie also has an excellent film score, which enhances the juxtaposition of earth and space. Earth is normally seen as chaotic whereas space often seems peaceful and tranquil, however it is the reverse in this film, as earth looks stunning and beautiful, while its space that holds imminent danger.
Bullock is excellent as always and plays the role of the nauseous rookie to great effect, while Clooney, as normal, plays the smug, wisecracking, likable veteran.
Ryan Stone has to struggle and battle to survive, overcoming everything thrown at her (literally), from hurtling debris to being towed through space by Clooney as her oxygen supply diminishes. She also has to deal with her limited knowledge of space technology, as she attempts to escape to the safety of planet earth.
At long last we have another great action role for a female. In Bullock we are reminded of Sigourney Weaver in her Alien role (although with fewer aliens, of course), and this will become apparent to all. There are some nods to some of the classic sc-ifi action films. One the best is when Bullock manages to arrive at the first space station, strips down and floats in space in a foetal position, whilst wires hang down in the background like umbilical chords.
Overall Verdict: Gravity for me is the surprise film of the year. When I first saw the trailers it was met with nervous laughter from the audience. However, from the very first scene we are drawn into the drama with beautiful panoramic views. The film then quickly changes pace and does not disappoint on any level. Unlike many blockbuster films that trundle on needlessly for hours, this is a punchy fast-paced roller coaster of a movie, flying in at 91 min. We care about the characters, especially Ryan Stone as she traverses through dilemma after dilemma, and we enjoy the fraught journey along with her.
Reviewer: Stephen Sclater