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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Gravity (3-D) | George Clooney, Sandra Bullock | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE



While the sci fi thriller, Gravity, isn't director Alfonso Cuaron's (Y Tu Mamá También, Childen of men) best film, it certainly is a visual masterpiece due to his collaboration with brilliant cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life) and the amazing team of special affects wizards. Seen in 3D, the vastness of outer space has never looked so breathtaking and awe inspiring and the sense of weightlessness has never been so beautifully captured since Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Sandra Bullock (Oscar-winner for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side) stars as Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first space shuttle mission to repair the Hubble telescope. George Clooney is shuttle commander, Matt Kowalsky, a wisecracking (not a stretch for the actor) country music loving, veteran astronaut working along side her on his final mission before retiring.

Towards the beginning of the film, Matt jokingly says, “I have a bad feeling about this mission”. Duh! It's not like we haven't seen the trailers. It comes as no surprise that something terrible, indeed, is about to happen.

Shortly afterwards, Matt and Ryan get a warning from Houston that debris from an exploding Russian satellite has caused a chain reaction and is heading towards them on a collision course. Unable to get out of its path, disaster strikes.  The debris's impact causes catastrophic damage to the shuttle, killing all the other members of the crew, and a blackout of communication to ground control. Matt is separated from Ryan who becomes detached from the Hubble and is sent spinning uncontrollably into space. Although the two are able to communicate for a while, eventually Ryan, who is losing oxygen, finds herself stranded, alone, and must fend for herself and find a way to safely get back to earth as she faces one obstacle or challenge after another.

Gravity features the appearance of only two actors, Bullock and Clooney with Ed Harris (no stranger to outer space movies, having played astronaut John Glenn in The Right Stuff) providing the voice from Mission Control.  Bullock is the main focus and the weight is on her shoulders to carry the film. For some reason, I kept thinking Hillary Swank would have been a better fit. In any case, Bullock effectively immerses herself in this serious role and does the best she can with the material she is given. That said, I have a problem with how her character, a lost in space, damsel in distress, is written.

Academy Award nominated director Alfonso Cuarón co-wrote the screenplay with his son Jonás and they've written Ryan as a woman with psychological baggage.  Still haunted by the tragic, untimely death of her 4 year old daughter that died in freak accident, she didn't have the “right stuff” to be chosen for this mission. It is understandable how the average lay person would go into a panic if caught in her nightmare of a predicament, but not a NASA trained astronaut that has gone through the program and was deemed mentally and physically fit. It is as if she was unprepared for the possibility of any dangerous, life threatening situation that comes with going into outer space.

Ryan is filled with self doubt and in a panic before she comes to the realization that she must stop freaking out, pull herself together and find her strength to do what needs to be done.

Even with several flaws in the script, including clunky dialogue and errors related to the physics of anti gravity,  I still think the movie is worth seeing. If nothing more, like gravity itself, the stunning visuals, alone, will pull you in and take hold.

Gravity is rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images, and brief strong language.

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