In 2013 Alfonso Cuarón co-wrote and directed his version of a space drama, Gravity starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Ed Harris; shown in IMAX theaters in 3D it was a spectacular offering and it loses nothing on the small screen. Which is good as the blu-ray, DVD release is coming up on Feb 25, coincidentally that is the same day that Oscar votes have to be in. With the release coming up so quickly, it seemed a good idea to look at this masterpiece with its 10 Oscar nominations and two wins for Best Director – Golden Globes – and Best British Film – BAFTAs.
For a film that got a 97 percent fresh score from picky film website Rotten Tomatoes and an IMDb score of 8.2 percent, it should come as no surprise that this space drama transfers so well to the smaller television screen. Of course, in terms of acting performances it should not, and indeed did not, make any difference whether Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone or George Clooney as shuttle pilot Matt Kowalski, or even Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control are seen and heard without IMAX grandeur and space debris shooting past the viewer’s head courtesy of 3D. Gravity is just as enjoyable on a laptop courtesy of Video on Demand, aka streaming.
The plot of the film deals with a shuttle crew who has docked with the Hubble Space Telescope near the International Space Station – or ISS as referred to in the film – and are performing routine duties. Dr. Stone, is still suffering from space sickness; nausea and vomiting; and she is struggling to set up a communications board. Kowalski is flying aimlessly around his two colleagues; the other being Shariff, although it is never really clear what Shariff’s duties are, he is the only other crew member outside the Shuttle.
While the three are completing their “routine” spacewalk tasks Mission Control informs them that a Russian satellite has been hit by a Russian missile strike, but, they do not need to worry as the debris trajectory will miss them. Seconds later, Mission Control tells the three to abort their mission as it appears the debris has started a chain reaction and is heading right for them.
While attempting to follow Mission Control’s orders and return to the ISS the debris hits the shuttle and rips it to shreds; killing Shariff, and cutting off the piece of shuttle that Stone is strapped to. Kowalski orders her to detach from the shuttle arm or he will lose her. Stone detaches only to go into an out of control spiral.
The two surviving astronauts must find one another and somehow make their way to the ISS which is within eyeshot but is still almost 1,500 kilometers away. As a space film that was made with IMAX and 3D in mind, it lost nothing being on a small screen. During Gravity tensions still ran high and the urge to sit on the edge of the seat, teeth gritted and knuckles gone white clutching chair arms was not dissipated by the lack of 3D or the fancy sound system feature by IMAX.
Cuarón, who wrote the screen play for Gravity with his son Jonás and actor Clooney, kept his cast intimate; all the better to fight against the epic backdrop of space. The earth appearing tantalizingly close, yet too far away, and the realization that things left in space move. Satellites as well as debris are all following a path around the earth moving and some of these space-bound items are moving faster than a speeding bullet.
It is not hard to see why this film has earned 10 Oscar nominations. While watching the film, the power of all the key players in the making of this film truly hits home. During the scenes in space, as tensions mount and the urge to weave and bob in the chair as Dr. Stone dodges hurtling space debris, Bullock ceased to be an actress playing a role, she became Ryan Stone.
This is the power of the film. The viewer knows that this is just a film and that no one was in space and that real life doesn’t have a musical score to help the audience get a more heightened sense of drama and suspense. Yet, the director and his cast put a degree of believability into the film that works so well, it is difficult to take eyes off the action for even an second.
Gravity, loses nothing on the small screen. Certainly it must have been so much more overpowering and the specialties of the big screen must have left the audience feeling completely immersed in the film, but, the movie was crafted so well, shot so perfectly from the standpoint of the epic cinematography, and the splendid computer graphics, that IMAX and 3D are not required for the home viewing audience to get a thrill from watching this superlative effort. Available now for streaming and the blu-ray/DVD will be on sale from Feb 25. This is a 6 out of 5 star film and should not be missed. Breath taking and heart stopping entertainment of the highest order.
By Michael Smith