Friday, November 29, 2013


Medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) goes on her first space mission involving the maintenance of a satellite. Assisted by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), they endure one week in zero gravity only to end up in grave danger as they attempt to dodge the debris of a Russian satellite that has just been struck down. Losing all communications with Houston as well as the lives of their other three companions, the two strive to make use of what resources they have left to get back to Earth in one piece, with the said debris continuing to haunt them each hour and a half as they hop from one space station to another. Gravity is one hell of a visual experience. If you have yet to see a movie on IMAX, then choose this to be the first. Why?

The visual experience is just awesome in that it makes you feel as though you were really there. The debris do not just hit the satellites, they actually hurl themselves towards you. If you are to see this film in 3D, then that means having to look like an idiot trying to dodge non-existent space wreckage coming fast towards your direction. On the other hand, it is also replete with symbolic imagery, and one that immediately comes to mind is that scene where Stone finally makes it into the International Space Station, removes all her astronaut gear, and curls up into fetal position. The shape of the pod as well as the one or two dangling cords floating in the background make it appear as though she was a baby in her mother’s womb ready to be born, which symbolizes rebirth as far as the current scenario is concerned.

Speaking of space debris, it has been the source of all the thrill in this movie, which effectively alternates silence and suspense as we root for Stone who struggles to survive. It is that very silence and the mere fact of being alone in space that makes you reflect about your purpose in this universe. Existential dilemma, anyone? There are how many billions of people on the planet. Send us all out there in space and we would still remain to be such insignificant specks of matter floating into nothingness. Why root for a single individual, then? Will it make a difference whether she survives or not? Then again, perhaps that is what the movie is really driving at, that inherent trait that defines the core of humanity, which is hope.

In terms of acting, Bullock offers the kind of gravitas that could successfully anchor such a role. Half of the movie is virtually a one-woman show, and that is hard to pull off if your lead actress lacks the essential acting repertoire. Fun trivia: the role was first offered to Natalie Portman after she won her Oscar for Black Swan. It would forever be a what-if scenario if she actually portrayed the role. In any case, Bullock does not disappoint. Every labored breath makes her dilemma a legitimate point of concern; every floating teardrop makes you want her to live even more. As for Clooney, he has nothing left to prove in terms of his acting prowess. He offers solid support here and his character serves as both the voice of wisdom and comic relief, a true veteran mentor who contributes a lot to Stone’s survival.

As for the plot, some could argue that it is a bit contrived, but what matters most is the journey to get to the end. There is no boring moment in this movie, and even the deafening silence of drifting alone in space subtly carries that impending feeling of doom in spite of the tranquility that such an environment has to offer. Suffice it to say that this film is like a roller coaster ride. There is thrill to be expected with every loop and every twist.

Good job, Alfonso Cuarón.

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

Anonymous said...

you're back! i miss your posts

ihcahieh said...

@Anonymous - Haha, thanks. Hopefully I could write regularly again, even if it's just during the weekend.

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