I have to agree that the wait for gravity has been much long, as the trailer came to the theatres quite early, with not much information available about it. No, it was not one of those movies which I was waiting for, but it became a movie worth waiting for, after having its own transformation from nothing to everything with those highly positive reviews and good word of mouth, and remained in the support of nearly 97% positive reviews in Rotten Tomatoes and 8.9 in IMDb, something which had to result in a rise in the number of viewers in the theatres, and because of that, we had to book our tickets online, not really something we had to do this year in spite of the fact that Iron Man 3 made us do the same, even as Man of Steel had threatened to do the same again and The Wolverine had succeeded in it. Yes, Gravity was to be watched at any cost, and we decided to waste no time, as we approached it the very next day after it was released here to positive reviews.
It has to be noted that the story for this movie is quite simple and lasts no more than one and half hours. We are introduced to Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) on her first space mission, and the veteran space traveller Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who have almost finished their job when the space waste from a destroyed Russian satellite hits them and everyone except the two are dead. Matt saves Ryan from being lost in the space forever with low level of oxygen, but cuts himself off from her when he feels that it will endanger them both. After getting into the semi-destroyed International space station from their damaged shuttle, she has to use one of the damaged modules to somehow get to a chinese space station, from where she can go back home in their modules. As someone new to the whole thing, and with no communcations to advice her, she has to use more than what she knows to survive and make it back to Earth. It is not the most interesting plots around, but you have to love it for what is shown on the screen.
In the world of extreme science fiction, all these would seem too simple, but not for the realistic environment that the director has attempted to create right here. In an extended world of reality, there would be questions about reality, and one might wonder if this is also real enough. None of us did go to space already, and so this is no lesser unreality than most of the other things which are exaggerated, but the helplessness of the man and the lack of the scientific “supernatural” keeps this close enough to be defined real, even as I consider this to be that much of a work of imagination as any fantasy movie around there, and the chance of all these happening is as much as that of a Hobbit helping a group of Dwarves and a wizard against a dragon, or a young wizard with a scar going to a school hidden from reality. The one thing that denies sorcery here is that there are no superhumans here, and there is no deus ex machina. There is certain amount of role that fate has to play, but more of the job is done by the humans themselves.
There are only two actors in the movie, who are alive and shows their living faces. There are other astronauts for sure along with the voices, and there are dead bodies, and we see one of them floating around in space with almost a transparent face and a few others inside the space-shuttle, providing some moments of small shocks which work quite fine. Sandra Bullock is there or almost the whole time, and she comes up with what might be her best performances so far. She makes this survival movie her own, right from the beginning to the end. The fact that her character is too simple and ordinary, and none of her decisions come from the text books, make this one a dynamic character of infinite proportions in the infinite space of nothingness. George Clooney’s presence is small compared to our protagonist, but when he is there, one can think about, and can feel the awesomeness. The one memorable thing about this character is that there is the knowledge about when to let go and how to make not only his fellow characters in the screen, but also those outside the screen comfortable enough.
The life in infinite space has immense possibilities, and the survival in such a world with nothing to hold onto and and no hope to call or inform anyone for help is more than just another usual distress situation. Open Water and Open Water 2: Adrift made such worlds possible with their protagonists left hopeless in the middle of the ocean, but Gravity takes further steps into such helplessness when there is not even water, earth or any living creature nearby, and there is not even that distant hope of someone coming to help or trying to swim in order to reach somewhere. So, here comes the use of 3D. The Hindi movie Warning which was inspired from Open Water 2: Adrift tried some luck with it, but as we have seen before, it is rarely used effectively. But Gravity scores there with its spectacular use of 3D and all the resources which are available. It creates that connection with the audience with its 3D and visual effects, and it is that beauty on the screen and the technology that makes this one close enough to a beautiful thriller.
It is an experience worthy of being watched on the big screen. It is indeed one of the best visually stunning 3D experiences ever. The first person shots and the detail of the world requires special mention, as it takes the viewers closer to that experience of space, its beauty and its terrors. The magic of cinema in the theatre begins here, again with this “cine-magic”, or rather it started with the trailer of The Hobbit: Desolation of the Smaug. In spite o all these, Gravity will struggle to impress most of the viewers if watched on television or DVD, and that is a sure thing. If I had waited and watched this on another smaller medium, I might have just given this something around sixty five to sixty nine out of one hundred. There is that need to watch this with all its powers, and a smaller screen and the lack of 3D can only create that situation of being handicapped, and I would wonder why anyone would wish to watch a movie that is restricted to being half the flick that it is, when all its power lies in something and is stripped of the same.
There are still more that the viewers can ask for. On the local level, it is the presence of more shows, as it was there in just two multiplexes here; not something expected for such a movie; may be they scrapped it for movies which had stars who were more famous in this part of the world. On a more global needed, there was the need for more of George Clooney, a little bigger plot and thus a longer movie. But those are more of desires rather than needs. Gravity is pretty much exceptional in what it has achieved, even if it has done so not in a way that most of the viewers might have wanted it to. The movie itself works on the lack of gravity than gravity itself, just like it denies itself the opportunity to be just another exaggerated science fiction or a violent thriller. It defies all conventions and keeps faith on technology and the magic that is cinema, and thus honours all its viewers as well as its predecessors. There is the need for movies like Gravity, as without it, we might fail to understand the power of a medium such as cinema.
Release date: 11th October 2013 (India); 4th October 2013 (US)
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney (+emptiness, darkness, void and corpses)
@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.