From its slow panning opening shot closing in on a group of Nasa specialists carrying out routine maintenance on their space shuttle Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity never lets up from being a visual cornucopia of impressive treats. It is without doubt one of the most stunning visually enhanced films of recent times and one totally worthy of its 3D release. Without this added quality it would be relegated to your bog-standard sci-fi movie. In this case however the 3D enhancement is essential, as opposed to merely a gimmick, raising the whole film to an unprecedented level.
The only thing that occasionally drags it down is the overly chummy buddy-buddy routine between its two main stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney who we are reminded that even though they spend most of their time in unflattering and non revealing space suits are exceptionally good looking.
The plot –which is secondary to the atmosphere and visuals-, revolves around the traditional outer space as inner space theme, along the way harnessing the feeling of emptiness alongside the freedom of floating but always returning to the primal instinct of being grounded.
After being hit by fall out debris of a Russian satellite the two survivors find themselves drifting with two options: one is to retrieve their shuttle and attempt to make their way home whilst the other is to float into the abyss. The feeling always is that only one, if any, is going to survive and unfortunately Clooney’s moment of heroic self sacrifice is delivered as a jokey metaphorical high five which comes across as empty as the void he is about to drift off into.
From this point Bullock becomes a Sigouney Weaver as Ripley/ Linda Hamilton in Terminator type figure in skimpy vest with stamina driven determination and, similar to those other two screen heroines, thoughts of her child –in her case already dead- steering her to her destiny and home.
The outcome when it comes is predictable but with it having been such a heady rush of a movie throughout-several times I felt myself instinctively ducking as debris narrowly ‘missed’ my head- this was not a disappointment. At times I also felt dizzy, nauseous and disorientated with the darkness of the cinema itself taking on the role of outer space and this is solely due to the expertise of the effects which make the viewer feel as if they are actually part of the action. Predictable conclusion aside this is a film well worth seeing not only for the effects but for the feeling of being integrated with them.