DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

GRAVITY (director/writer: Alfonso Cuarón; screenwriter: Jonás Cuarón; cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki; editors: Alfonso Cuarón/Mark Sanger; music:  Steven Price; cast: Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone), George Clooney (Matt Kowalski), Ed Harris (Voice of Houston); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Alfonso Cuarón/David Heyman; Warner Brothers Pictures; 2013)

"An elegant space film, with some of the best photography ever."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Talented Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón ("Children of Men"/"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"/"Y Tu Mamá También") directs this amazing visually pleasing sci-fi thriller from a script the director wrote with his son Jonás. It's filmed in 3-D. One can't help but compare it to the mystical Kubrick classic "2001," one of the greatest films ever. But this space venture isn't locked into discovering the secrets of life as it is in the more mundane task of surviving a tragedy. It doesn't match the Kubrick space odyssey film in intellect or metaphysical ambition, but matches it in sheer eeriness and in its magnificent physicality. Rather than a masterpiece, it's a well-crafted space disaster flick that gets by on a weightless script.

An American NASA astronaut medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and the charismatic, talkative, wise-cracking space shuttle mission's leader, veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski (Matt Kowalski), on his last mission, after an accident find they are the sole survivors in unlivable space. While the two were on a work-related space walk, repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, metal debris from an exploding Russian satellite hits their area and they are stranded from their ship and floating in space 370 miles above Earth.

While the ordeal is going down, Ryan opens up to tell about the loss of her daughter. It was a bit weepie melodramatic stuff, but it filled in some narrative the filmmaker evidently thought he needed to fill the void. Meanwhile Ryan struggles in space while running short of oxygen and is urgently trying to make her way to the International Space Station in order to survive.

It's an elegant space film, with some of the best photography ever, courtesy of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. It catches the vastness, silence and grandiosity of outer space. Those great visuals are accompanied by a very ordinary back story about the astronauts which keeps the pic unpretentious and grounded in the reality of the mission (even though it couldn't happen in real-life because Hubble and the space station are on different courses).

Ed Harris is the unseen voice from the Houston control center.

REVIEWED ON 10/5/2013       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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