'Gravity' Review Roundup: Sandra Bullock Drama Thrills With Accuracy And Breathtaking Storytelling
Gravity is a 3D space drama about astronauts Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) as Stone struggles to survive with limited air after she loses contact with her space shuttle — which is badly damaged by debris. The film, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, has received high acclaim for its accuracy, storytelling and acting.
Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, praised how accurately the film portrayed life in space. "I was so extravagantly impressed by the portrayal of the reality of zero gravity," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "I was happy to see someone moving around the spacecraft the way George Clooney was. It really points out the degree of confusion and bumping into people, and when the tether gets caught, you're going to be pulled — I think the simulation of the dynamics was remarkable."
NPR discussed the film's ability to take the viewer out of his/her seat and into the scene. "Doctoral theses will be penned on the breath-catchingly realistic, gorgeously choreographed, entirely mesmerizing opening that director Alfonso Cuarón has conjured for Gravity — both how the scene was managed and how it works on a viewer's psyche," NPR said of the film. "I don't know about how the brain processes visual information fills volumes, but I'm going to guess that 13 minutes with nary a cut or visual cue to remind you that you're in a movie theater allows you to … well, not forget that fact, exactly, but perhaps subliminally to at least discount it."
The New York Times praised the film's simple, but breathtaking, storytelling. "Mr. Cuarón succeeds by tethering almost unfathomably complex techniques — both digital and analog — to a simple narrative. “Gravity” is less a science-fiction spectacle than a Jack London tale in orbit. The usual genre baggage has been jettisoned: there are no predatory extraterrestrials, no pompous flights of allegory, no extravagant pseudo-epic gestures," reviewer A. O. Scott writes. "What you see (through the exquisitely observant lenses of the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) defies easy description. Stone and Kowalski’s orbital path is perched between the inky infinite and the green, cloud-swept face of home. The perspective is dazzling and jarring, and Mr. Cuarón allows a few moments of quiet, contemplative beauty to punctuate the busy, desperate activity of staying alive. Kowalski, generally an irreverent joker, pauses to savor the sun over the Ganges, and you may find yourself picking out other geographical details. Look, there’s Italy, and the Nile Valley. These reference points are as unsettling as they are reassuring, because they are glimpsed from a vantage point that is newly and profoundly alien."
Variety had nothing but praise for Cuarón's storytelling and Bullock's performance. "Sandra Bullock, playing a lost astronaut stranded 375 miles above Earth, seeks refuge in an abandoned spacecraft and curls into a floating fetal position, savoring a brief respite from her harrowing journey," Variety said. "Of the many sights to behold in this white-knuckle space odyssey, a work of great narrative simplicity and visual complexity, it’s this image that speaks most eloquently to Cuarón's gifts as a filmmaker: He’s the rare virtuoso capable of steering us through vividly imagined worlds and into deep recesses of human feeling."
The Los Angeles Times praised the space flick and Bullock's performance as, literally, out of this world. "Words can do little to convey the visual astonishment this space opera creates. It is a film whose impact must be experienced in 3-D on a theatrical screen to be fully understood," they wrote. "No one has more screen time in "Gravity" than Bullock, and no one makes better use of it. Her bleak working conditions in this effects-heavy film demanded physical dexterity and the ability to withstand long periods of isolation, but through it all her gift for connecting with an audience, so essential for this kind of film, never fails her."