Thursday Night Movie Club
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Release Date: 4 October 2013

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Sandra Bullock
George Clooney
Ed Harris
Orto Ignatiussen
Phaldut Sharma
Amy Warren
Basher Savage
Ryan Stone
Matt Kowalski
Mission Control
Explorer Captain
Russian Space Station Captain
Gravity movie poster #1 Gravity movie poster #2 Gravity movie poster #3
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in GravityGravity is cinematically amazing. The film is mesmerizing from the first fantastic shot to the very last frame. Director and co-screenwriter Alfonso Cuarón has crafted a beautiful and engaging movie. During some sequences, the audience needs to remember to breathe, just breathe!

The film sweeps the audience in on the opening shot that starts as a simple long shot looking down upon planet Earth. The Earth looks so real it is easy for viewers to believe they are actually in outer space. Softly at first, chatter between Houston's Mission Control and astronauts orbiting the planet are heard. Soon after, the Space Shuttle and the Hubble Space Telescope come into view. The shot continues until the shot focuses the audience attention on astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) as he tests a jet pack by zooming in circles around the Hubble. Kowalski entertains those who are actually working by telling long, draw-out stories. The shot focuses on Kowalski while the Hubble and the Earth rotate around him. Next, the shot picks up on Mission Specialist Ryan Stone (Bullock) as she makes repairs to the Hubble. The audience is now focused on Stone as Kowalski zooms in and out of the camera's view. Wow is an understatement!

Meanwhile, the Russians are having trouble with one of their satellites. They decide it is better to destroy the satellite rather than risk reentry. After the satellite is blown up, the debris causes a massive chain reaction destroying nearby satellites and forming a massive debris field. Before the astornauts can reach the safety of the shuttle and fly into a safer region of space, the shuttle, Hubble and the unprotected astronauts fly directly through the debris field. Travelling at some 30,000 miles per hour, the debris passes by like small projectiles destroying everything in its path. Alfonso Cuarón captures this entire sequence in one single shot!

The International Space Station is destroyed in 'Gravity'After the debaucle, Stone and Kowalski are the only survivors floating helplessly in space and facing the inevitable conclusion: Gravity will eventually catch up to them and their dead bodies will burn up in the atmosphere. A rescue mission is out of the question. The two astronauts will suffocate from lack of oxygen long before then.

The remainder of Gravity is a race against time and the elements. Stone panics and hyperventilates rapidly depleting her remaining stores of oxygen. Her list of options tallies a total of zero! Kowalski's jet pack still functions and he is able to locate Stone and connect with her via a life line. Prospects for survival are still somewhere between slim and none. Well, at least now they won't die alone!

Kowalski, being a seasoned astronaut, keeps Stone focused on the job at hand by asking her what are their options. She can't think of anything. Kowalski knows they cannot make any plans to get home without first finding an alternate source of oxygen. First, make it to the International Space Station, get oxygen and then reassess the situation. Fortunately, his jetpack still contains a scarce trace of fuel. While this is happening, Kowalski constantly nags Stone to search for alternatives, no matter how wacky or far-fetched the idea seems at the time. This is a critical lesson that continues for the remainder of the film.

Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone attempts to board the Russian Space Station in 'Gravity'Alfonso Cuarón has filmed a technically jaw-dropping movie. In order to simulate the lack of gravity, Cuarón created a special set where the actors and camera were suspended on cranes with banks of lights that are turned on and off to depict sunlight striking the actors from a certain point in space. Gravity is a shoe-in to receive the Academy Award for Technical Achievement in Film and Best Cinematography. The result is drop-dead stunning!

Cuarón's camera shots are able to capture two contradictory perspectives simultaneously: the wide expanse of outer space versus a sense of claustrophobia while being constrained in the tight enclosure of a space suit or even an orbiting space station. A human being is very small compared to the grand scheme of the universe.

Cuarón's minimal use of editing and long takes keeps the pacing slow while slowly ratcheting up the tension. The destruction of the shuttle and the space station are filmed with long takes for the audience to be fully immersed in the peril the astronauts are facing at the moment. The camera spins, the actors spin, the space station spins and planet Earth spins in the background. The result is a dizzying, dazzling display of frantic action without cutting every second like the Jason Bourne films.

The Space Shuttle is destroyed in 'Gravity'Sandra Bullock carries the brunt of the film and she is fantastic. Mission Specialist Ryan Stone is the character whom the audience can more readily identify with. Stone is on the mission to make repairs to the Hubble Telescope. She is no more prepared for the events that take place than anyone in the audience. Bullock's emotional range run the full gamut from sheer panic, to relief, to helplessness, to the shock of realizing she is truly on her own, to frustration and rage as all her attempts to get back to Earth are shattered by the debris, to resigning herself to her inevitable fate, to finaly coming to terms with her life and deciding she wants to live.

Meanwhile, George Clooney plays Matt Kowalski the same way he played myriads of other roles: charming, handsome, flippant and unflappably, almost ingratiatingly optimistic. Kowalski is going to his death with his boots on and a smile on his face. Like Tommy Lee Jones in "Space Cowboys", Kowalski is going to enjoy his final ride to the max. Other than big-name recognition, the Kowalski role could have been portrayed by anyone. Even Ben Affleck wouldn't have grounded this film.

Tippi Hedron as Melanie Daniels in 'The Birds'The cinematography and special effects must be seen to be believed. Gravity is stunning, beautiful, nerve-wracking, tense, suspenseful and, at times, joyous. The film is a must for viewing on Imax screens. Anyone suffering from vertigo will want to avoid Gravity in 3D-Imax. The ticket attendants should pass out paper bags along with the 3D glasses just to be on the safe side.

Although there are a few glaring holes in how objects actually interact in outer space, most movie-goers won't know them. For the rest of us, the film is so well made as to render these errors moot. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy! Then, enjoy some more!