Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer. She is on her first trip to space to install a prototype sensor on the Hubble Space Telescope. Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) is a veteran astronaut. As a matter of fact, this is his last mission before he retires. He is going to be just shy of setting a new record for the longest spacewalk, which is something he was looking forward to.
While troubleshooting the new sensor, the Mission Control commander (Ed Harris) informs them that a Russian satellite has been hit by a Russian missile. This has caused a chain reaction that is sending a speeding cloud of debris towards the shuttle Endeavor, carrying Stone, Kowalsky, and their crew.
The debris cloud rips through the shuttle, causing Dr. Stone to hurtle through space. Fortunately, Kowalsky had been doing some tests on a jetpack unit. He has enough power to try to retrieve Dr. Stone and bring her back to the shuttle. When they return to the shuttle, they find that they are the only survivors. Unfortunately, the shuttle is torn to shreds. Now, they must make their way to the International Space Station to use one of the Soyuz capsules to return to Earth.
That is as much of a synopsis as I can give without giving away too much of the story. I’ve probably already given away enough.
The story is really only about Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. All of the others are there simply to give some credibility to the situation. After everyone on the shuttle dies, and they lose contact with Mission Control, they are literally the only ones in the story. I don’t know if anyone besides Clooney and Bullock could have pulled this off. Save for Tom Hanks, but he’s already done this movie (Castaway). George Clooney, as Matt Kowalsky, is essentially George Clooney in space. I have to imagine, based on every character he’s played, that this is who he is in real life. He’s cocky and obviously has no issues with self-esteem. Why would he? He’s George Clooney. Sandra Bullock plays the “straight man” to George Clooney. She adds the drama to the film. The two play off each other well.
The visuals in this film are absolutely stunning. And if you’re going to see it, you have to watch it on a big screen in 3D. Gravity is meant to only be seen this way. The landscape created is amazing. Subtle effects, like drops of water floating through space and landing on the camera just add to it. Alfonso Cuarón did an excellent job making everything feel like it was actually taking place in space. Everything else is left to the score and smaller audio details, such as it is, since there is no sound in space, to create the empty environment.
This is a difficult film to review. I did enjoy Gravity, if for no other reason that to experience as close to what astronauts experience as possible. The story, while being a short 90 minutes, gets to the point of “What else can go wrong in space?” at times. But it’s forgivable. That said, it’s not necessarily a film I would sit through again. There isn’t much to the story, aside from being lost in space.
If you go see this film, as I said, go to the theater and make sure it’s a 3D showing. I don’t know that I would have given it as favorable a review if it had been in 2D.