Here’s my first review this week for a mini-series of Space Exploration Movies of the 2010s.
Release Date: October 4, 2013
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Production Company: Heyday Films | Esperanto Filmoj
The explosion of a satellite in earth orbit leads to a chain reaction of destruction from a cloud of high speed space debris. The debris destroys the Space Shuttle Explorer leaving only two survivors who were performing extravehicular activity at the time of the strike. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a mission specialist on her first mission to space while Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is a garrulous NASA veteran on his final mission. Together they need to make their way to the International Space Station and then to China’s Tiangon space station to find a spacecraft that can return them safely to Earth. The film attempts to be scientifically grounded (although I’m sure that nitpickers can find many errors) and prevent a plausible if extremely unlikely series of events in their attempt to reach safety.
I did find it weird that Kowalski and Stone talk to one another like they’re just getting to know one another when they would’ve been training together for months. I also was a bit annoyed that Kowalski got to be confident and competent all the time while Stone panics and makes mistakes, although this does pay off later in the film. In the 21st century, movies have been getting longer and longer, which isn’t always a bad thing, but I appreciate that Gravity is taut 91 minutes long. It’s really all action from beginning to end, and Bullock puts in a great performance for someone who is basically carrying the movie on her own for the better part of it’s runtime.
I’m growing to appreciate the work of Alfonso Cuarón, who directed the best Harry Potter movie and one of the most depressing movies I’ve ever seen, and seems to excel at making wildly different styles of film. I’ll have to watch some more of his films.