With all the buzz around this film I just couldn't resist dashing out to the theater last week to see it. It's almost like a perfect conclusion to my sort-of series about the Hollywood system: When big-budget movies go right. I don't really have much more to say about that, except that it does happen! There are creative people working in the industry - not every film that achieves blockbuster status is cookie cutter. Gravity is a totally unique film to experience.
The film was made with a budget of around $100 million, and every cent is on screen. Almost everything you see here was created in a computer, but at no point watching it did I feel the artificiality coming through. The visuals of this film are eye-popping... jaw dropping... stupendously breathtaking. This is a film that greatly benefits from 3D - and the larger the theater, the better. Try and catch it in that format if you can, because it's the kind of film that really loses a lot of its luster when downsized to a television or computer screen. Not all its luster though.
By way of proper introduction, in case you haven't heard of this film: Gravity tells the story of a group of astronauts conducting maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope. Suddenly disaster strikes in the form of a cloud of space debris orbiting the Earth causing a ripple effect; the HST is destroyed and becomes part of the cloud, which drifts on and destroys more satellites - a potential real-life catastrophe for astronauts called the Kessler Effect.
This film does great justice to the real science of space, but it is ultimately a human story. As the astronauts desperately struggle to get a grip in zero gravity, what transpires in Sandra Bullocks character is a metaphorical rebirth as she is forced to overcome her situation - both physically out in space, and emotionally in her state of grief. Early on we see her strip off her space-suit and curl up in a fetal position, floating in zero-g as in the womb. It's a beautiful image, and one of several clear symbolic ones throughout the film that add depth and texture to the otherwise straightforward narrative. The final scene of the film is a visceral and satisfying conclusion that drives home the impact of the roller-coaster thrill of the entire piece.
One phrase that shooting around the internet now is: Gravity does for space what Jaws did for water. In other words, through its exceptional production, the film has become a proof-of-concept for films that are set in zero gravity. It's possible that this marks the first in a whole new genre of space-survival films, or realistic sci-fi. Only time will tell, but in the meantime I reiterate: Go and watch Gravity!