Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Gravity (2013)

I was thinking about how disaster films are a pretty tried and true genre. But what is interesting is that “disaster in space” movies have been around for a while. You had Marooned, SpaceCamp, Apollo 13 and now this interesting film by Alfonso Cuaron. But the real draw when this came out in theaters was the way 3D was used in the film. Does this movie earn a repeat viewing at home sans 3D?

For her first space shuttle mission, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) was hoping for a nice uneventful trip. She just wanted to complete the mission and get back to earth. Veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is having a great time teasing Stone and flying around on one of the EMUs. Of course disaster has to strike (this is a space disaster film after all). The Russians blow up an old spy satellite and the explosion causes a chain reaction of debris to go hurtling around the earth and directly at the shuttle!

Before they have a time to react Stone is separated from the shuttle and the debris causes massive damage to the ship and crew. Kowalski and Stone soon discover that they are left adrift in orbit without a working ship. But they may have a chance if they can reach one of the space stations orbiting earth… and do it before that cloud of debris comes back around… or they run out of oxygen, or fuel for the EMU. But things start going wrong almost immediately and it becomes clear that the most dangerous enemy could be Gravity.

Good Points:
  • Sandra Bullock gives an excellent performance
  • The visual effects are impressive
  • The film is directed and edited with great skill, building tension perfectly

Bad Points:
  • This film makes the whole space program looks kinda scary and poorly staffed
  • The music treads the line into sound design that may distract some viewers
  • Some of the 3D visuals are sorely missed


This movie is a thrill ride pure and simple. It does a fine job establishing a vulnerable character with Stone and then putting her through the paces. The visual effects combined with the tight direction and brisk pace pull you in and don’t let go. But the film also takes a few moments to let you (and Stone) catch a breath before plunging back into the fray. All the parts work great together with the simple but effective script. This movie looked amazing in 3D and it helped make it one of the best thrill rides I’ve seen lately. But it holds up well at home, especially as an example of how to make an effectively paced thrill machine

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 4
Acting: 5
Script: 3
Music: 4
Direction: 5
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. Disasters in space--you left out Armageddon. :) I remember enjoying Gravity, and the visuals were the best part, but the story moved right along too. I'm curious about the new movie The Martian.

    1. Yeah "The Martian" does look interesting. As for "Armageddon"... well I might have forgotten that one on purpose. ;)

  2. I recall pedantic complaints from space wonks about orbital dynamics and the vanishingly low probability of being in the precise position and velocity to permit an EVA to a space station. But, hey, vanishingly low probabilities of survival are the very heart and soul of adventure films. “Gravity” was quite a spectacle on the big screen. While I enjoyed it, somehow I never felt the draw to see it again, either in the theater or at home. Good to know it holds up at home.

    Sandra Bullock usually is able to make a film watchable. Even “All about Steve,” the Razzie Award for which she good-naturedly picked up in person, wasn’t nearly so bad as its reputation, though it might have been with anyone else.

    1. Yeah I know a few people who spent most of their breath bashing the fact that Bullock's character would not have been an astronaut in the first place. I missed the EVA velocity argument. But as you point out... it's a adventure film! Those stretch credibility all the time.