By KILY WONG ’16
“Gravity” takes audiences on an adventure to the outer limits of space, but the characters themselves connect with us in way that’s much closer to home. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón and released Oct. 4, the film opens with a view of earth before gradually centering on a small floating space shuttle, where three astronauts are attempting repairs on the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. But the detonation of a nearby Russian satellite sends a storm of space debris and deadly metallic shrapnel in their direction.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents a space thriller that follows the journey of Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer and rookie astronaut, and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran astronaut, as they try to find their way to safety. As the duo struggle for survival in this hostile environment, the film becomes a story of human resilience in the face of extraordinary and otherworldly obstacles.
Suspense and tension drive each scene, the ebb and flow of life is captured by the constant tugging of the slender rope that ties Stone to Kowalski as they trek across space. The film presents nature in its most distilled form: the harsh, gorgeous and infinite expanse of the universe that, paired with the weightlessness of zero-gravity, causes scenes to seemingly occur in slow motion. Brilliant cinematography leaves the audiences feeling suspended, simply floating, though perhaps for too long at times.
Made to be watched in 3D, “Gravity” is not only a masterpiece in cinematography but also a great story of unmatched bleakness and boundless optimism. With images of wombs, chess rooks and tears, the symbolism of rebirth and safety strikingly contrasts the harsh realities of outer space. However, the themes of isolation and thirst for human connection are occasionally drawn out for too long.
Still, this is a refreshing presentation of Bullock, who put in one of her strongest performances to date. There are already rumors of a possible Oscar nomination for her performance as an underdog woman burdened by past grief who needs to draw on an inner strength she never realized she had. Although Clooney steals the scene with his chipper attitude, calm demeanor and occasionally poorly-timed humor, whenever they’re on screen together, Bullock’s Stone proves to be the heroine in the end.
The movie has earned $170 million since its release three weeks ago. Ending the movie lull that set in earlier this fall, this good yarn revives our understanding of human existence as not only a physical journey but also a spiritual one.