September 9, 2013 - 17:20 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - When the trailer for Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity came out earlier this summer, many wondered how exactly a film about two people floating in space could work, if at all. Images of astronauts spinning endlessly through a black abyss may be interesting, but they could also get old, like many trapped-in-the-middle-of-nowhere narratives are wont to do, a review published at Digital Spy said.
”But the movie does have a plot, albeit a relatively simple and mostly predictable plot. Medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) find themselves adrift in space after an accident destroys their ride home to earth. Stone is a nervous, straight-laced wreck on her first expedition into the cosmos, while Kowalsky, poised to retire after this final mission, is a wise-cracking, bizarrely laid-back jokester. With no means to communicate with Houston and a dangerously low supply of oxygen, the two astronauts must work together to find a way back home.
Clooney floats smugly across the screen with his customary wit and charm - indeed he's so very Clooney-esque that he is at times distracting and a little cloying, to say the least. While Clooney is obviously a very capable performer, the role would have been suited for a less recognisable star. From beginning to end, it's very much Bullock's movie.
Known mostly for her romantic comedies, Bullock steps out of her comfort zone for a role that is light on dialogue and heavier on the physical. Of course, we see her metamorphosis from an insecure wreck into a complete badass coming from a mile away. In fact, one can actually pinpoint the exact moment when, suddenly, her character blossoms before her eyes, literally stripping off her clothes in one of the more heavy-handed and long-winded visual metaphors in the film,” author Zeba Blay said.
“This is a movie as much about death as it is about survival. The script, co-written by Cuaron's son Jonás, at times struggles to juggle these themes with nuance, choosing instead to put everything out on the table. It's an unsubtle approach to a film that's already a bit of a spectacle, but it doesn't totally detract from what's ultimately trying to be conveyed. Indeed, it's in those moments when the script shines a brighter light on the backgrounds of the characters, where they come from and what they're fighting for, that the movie really begins to work. Because how Bullock and Clooney's characters relate to death directly affects the trajectory of their survival story, with Bullock's Ryan forced to work her way through her own past experiences with death on Earth.
But it isn't really the story that makes Gravity worth sitting through: it's the visual effects. Cuaron, much like directors Christopher Nolan and Neill Blomkamp, has always excelled at blending complex visual effects into very human stories with a seamlessness and subtlety starkly different to Hollywood blockbusters like Transformers. Everything we see on screen may have been digitally rendered, but there is never a sense of a disconnect between the actors and their surroundings, between the viewer and what they see on screen,” the author says.
”A sequence in which Cuaron plays with point of view by almost imperceptibly entering an astronaut's helmet is just one of the many tricks he has up his sleeve, adding a bit of texture to what could have otherwise been a relatively by-the-numbers sci-fi movie. While the performances are solid and the narrative engaging, these aren't necessarily enough to make this the overall masterpiece that some are purporting it to be. What it is: a near masterpiece in the aesthetic sense, a visual playground for Cuaron that would still be worth watching, maybe even more so, without its dialogue.
Gravity is a film that by virtue of its set up takes chances - a big blockbuster spectacle that also aspires to be a quiet, intimate character study. It doesn't quite stick the landing in that respect, but it's the chances taken with the camera itself that truly pay off,” the author concludes.