‘Houston, do you read me? I have a bad feeling about this mission…’
Mission Control: ‘Please elaborate.’
‘Well, it looks like the Russians have inadvertently caused a space incident and the wreckage from one of their satellites is heading in our direction. All I see now are clear skies – just with a chance of satellite debris!’
Welcome to the saviour of 3D cinema – a literally ‘out of this world’ thrill ride that begins with brilliant medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) on her first shuttle mission. The problem is, thanks to a disastrous emergency the envelops her and her team – which includes veteran astronaut commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) – this could very well also be her last ever mission.
So ‘survive-em-up’ Gravity, under the careful direction of Alfonso ‘Children of Men’ Cuarón, is a masterful life and death exercise in eye-popping tension, blessed with jaw-dropping space vistas and the kind of special effects that are so good you forget that they aren’t actually real.
Watching Stone and Kowalski facing the nightmare scenario of being alone and tethered to nothing but each other as they spiral out into the blackness of space is so incredibly tense that you have to keep reminding yourself every now and then to breath.
And breathing is key to the existence of the desperate duo as they face a constant battle to maintain oxygen levels in the oppressive cold dark vacuum. Watching them having to risk everything to grasp even the smallest chance of survival is seriously gripping viewing.
There is a winning chemistry between Clooney and Bullock which helps suck you in to caring about their fates, and there are some nice nods to other sci-fi films in places.
Both the lead actors are on career best form but the real ‘stars’ of the film are the stunning views of outer space.
Never before have lens-flare and solar halo light-bursts been so painstakingly committed to the screen. Gravity might fill the foreground with raw human emotion but plays out the survivalist plot against a background of the most incredible starscapes.
I’m no fan of most 3D films but Cuarón has created a film that demands to be seen not just in 3D, but also on the biggest screen you can get to.
Remember - in space, no one can hear you biting your nails…