Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Written by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón blew me away with the third Harry Potter and Children of Men. What was he going to do next? The apparent answer was nothing, as he dropped off the face of the Earth for 7 years, apparently waiting for technology to catch up with his vision for Gravity. It's easy to see that it was worth the wait.
Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first space mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. Everything is going OK when debris from a satellite is created, destroying the Explorer and leaving Ryan floating in space. And even with Matt Kowalski's (George Clooney) help, Ryan is running out of oxygen...and it's 90 minutes until the debris comes around again.
Gravity takes all of 10 minutes to set the story up (using one of Cuarón's signature long takes) before the debris hits, and from there, it is nothing but tense. The repeated timers of oxygen and debris keeps you on edge since the danger won't be over unless they make it back to Earth, and when things are calm for just a moment, Ryan will mention how her oxygen is going down. And naturally, if something can go wrong, it will. There are brief moments of respite, but always with hints that something is about to go wrong.
The movie also shows so much proficiency all around, by an incredibly talented cast and crew. The score helps build up to every moment. The otherwise silent space scenes will have music that cues the audience in, but doesn't give the moment away. The visual effects are rightfully lauded, giving the feeling of zero gravity throughout, and, indeed, heightening the fear. A shot before anything had actually happened threw me off just because you see Ryan floating in space, and far, far below her, the Earth. The point is made from there: there's the Earth on one side, and on every other side, nothing. The effects are just so good that you don't even think about them most of the time, you just wonder if they actually filmed it in space. Cuarón's direction is pitch-perfect. His use of long takes is done several times throughout, but always to great effect. And because of them, Sandra Bullock has to be perfect every time. And she is, showing fear that becomes despair that has to, above all else, become hope if she's going to make it back. The transformation is genuine.
Gravity is thrilling, with special effects that enhance the movie and great talent from every angle.