Valissa Smith is managing partner of www.itsallaboutHER.com, an online resource for women. She is a proud member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. You can watch Valissa's movie reviews Fridays at 11:00 a.m.on the KSHB-TV Midday Newscast.
The opening scene of earth from the eye of an astronaut in space is mesmerizing; the contrast of the blues, greens and whites of the plant against the stark black of the atmosphere. The quiet makes you stop eating popcorn or making any other move that will interrupt the rare sound of dead silence. Then comes the strain to hear what those faint voices are saying through obvious electronic communication. It’s an astronaut talking to other astronauts and to NASA, and there’s a small white object moving onto the screen. Welcome to outer space.
The peace and quiet doesn’t last very long. Three astronauts orbiting earth, working on research outside their space vessel are struck by satellite debris from a meteor strike. Survival mode begins. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is a veteran astronaut whose about to end his career. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is new to all this. It’s her first experience in space.
If you’ve forgotten that humans can’t survive in outer space, you get the picture very quickly. There’s no life without oxygen, the temperatures are extreme, and of course, there’s no gravity which makes survival extremely difficult.
The film makers take us from this place of calm miles above earth to gut grinding thriller. But Gravity is SO much more than that. The unfolding story of these astronauts is an added layer of meaningful texture. Who is waiting for Ryan to come back to earth? Is retirement where Matt belongs?
George Clooney is one of his happy-go-lucky characters and terrific at it. It is Sandra Bullock who pulls out the serious acting chops. Her character's lack of experience revealed many of my own fears; suffocation, drowning, problem solving in a panic, work versus family, fear of being alone.
The computer generated images (CGI) and the photography/cinematography is outstanding! I’m no space expert but I was definitely a believer that these actors were without gravity. Watching them move through space inside and outside the ship, the objects floating around them, the horizon from all angles, and the 3D glasses caused slight nausea though I adjusted. I kept wondering “how did they make this movie?” because it felt so incredibly real.
The entire experience was an extremely pleasant surprise. The trailer is intriguing but then my head was thinking, “is that all this 91-minute film is going to give me? Survival in space?” Yes and definitely no.
Thank you producer/director Alfonso Cuaron for this incredible ride.
Arruga = 0
Fidget Factor = 0
Age Range = 15 and up
Overall Grade = A