GRAVITY (Alfonso Cuaron, 2013)
Finally, a film that was meant for 3D ever since the inception of the medium.
GRAVITY, aside from being one unforgettable, larger than life space experience of a movie, is also a spiritual journey from desperation to hopelessness to survival. It toys with our concept of hope based on what limited options are present at the time being.
Sandra Bullock turns in another praiseworthy performance as Mission Specialist Ryan Stone, who is out on her first space shuttle mission onboard Space Shuttle Explorer. A seemingly routine job to fix the Hubble telescope erupts into major catastrophe as debris from a Russian missile strike advances to the Explorer's location. She gets detached from the shuttle, and floats into dark, cold, and limitless space.
Bullock manifests the compelling innocence of her famous character Annie from SPEED, but here there is no escape. From varying moments of tension, we see Bullock fight to live, and in those 90 minutes of shifting claustrophobia and agoraphobia, we too become one with her ordeal. Emmanuel Lubezki's stunning cinematography makes damn sure of that.
Veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, played with Danny Ocean-level of cool by George Clooney guides the young Stone, keeping her calm in the face of adversity, his words and his voice acting as her reason for survival.
As debris hurls toward our faces, and the vast open deep space ignites unspeakable terror, GRAVITY tests our patience and threshold for fear, if we should succumb to a formless enemy or not.
Too many space movies have often descended into bad taste because of either overexposition (i.e. ARMAGEDDON and its cringe-worthy melodrama which although at times compelling, is mostly contrived to trigger our emotions) or total obscurity (i.e. BATTLEFIELD EARTH and yes I am looking at you John Travolta and whoever did your hair and make-up). But GRAVITY raises the bar by having no back story. What little back story it has is told by Bullock through dialogue, and there are no cheap flashbacks either to entertain the idiot in most of us.
The movie is simple. It has a simple story, and its main objective is to put us all in the space suit, which it does. The plot is basically summarized by the premise, that "life in space is impossible", but with a surprise twist.
GRAVITY definitely, necessarily deserves an IMAX 3D treatment, for all its magnanimity.