Does Gravity Fall Short?

By Hannah Gamache

Junior, English major

Does Gravity set a new standard for the space epic, or does it fall short? This film is writer and director Alfonso Cuarón’s outer-space thriller, in which medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) fight to survive in space after high-speed debris from a destroyed satellite hits their shuttle.

Gravity picture (scified.com)

The visuals of Gravity are beautiful and really simulate the sensation of zero-g. The viewer gets the impression of what it’s like to float in space and look down on our small planet, the plastic of his or her helmet the only thing between the astronaut and the merciless vacuum of space. The music was chosen carefully, and the moments of complete silence were powerful. The camera work wonderfully captures the weightlessness and the movements of the characters as they are thrust about in space. The CGI is fantastic, and the movie is worth seeing for the visual feast alone.

Bullock’s performance as Dr. Ryan Stone was particularly convincing and emotionally compelling. As the background of the character is revealed, with a little help from Clooney as co-star, the audience is able to connect with the character and experience her fear, hopelessness, and grief. Both actors’ performances do not disappoint.

The biggest problem with the movie was its scientific accuracy, or lack thereof. For the most part, the producers did a good job keeping the physics of the movie true-to-life, but there was one scene in particular in which the zero-g physics was just blatantly wrong, and I am by no means an expert. The reason for this rule-breaking was purely to add excitement, which is disappointing. This scene stood out as an obvious error, even to a casual viewer like myself. I wish they would not have sacrificed scientific accuracy for dramatic effect.

The plot was relatively simple, which allowed the audience to really absorb the visual effects and the actors’ emotional performances. However, throughout the movie, I was reminded of the classic 1995 historical film Apollo 13, the touchstone for space-disaster movies that was entirely based on a true story. Although Gravity is fictional, I felt that it was a somewhat bare-boned attempt to recreate the emotional impact of Apollo 13. While I enjoyed the simplicity of Gravity’s plot, I don’t think it holds a candle to Apollo 13.

Despite its problems, Gravity is a thrilling and visually stunning film that is definitely worth seeing. Most of its flaws can be easily overlooked, and the film provides an enjoyable experience overall. If you want to see this movie in the theater, make sure to see it in 3D. It added dimension without being overwhelming, and I did not end up with a headache as I usually do with 3D movies. Pay a little extra for the 3D, and you won’t regret it.

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