I left the theatre after seeing Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” with a quietly roiling anxiety in the pit of my stomach, and a deep desire never to go to space. I’m still recovering today! If the trailer above isn’t enough, here’s the story: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are in space, working on a routine mission, something goes wrong and really, I will stop there, because you have to see it to find out. If you’re on the fence about this terror ride through the universe’s infinite blackness, click through for five reasons you need to see “Gravity” right now.
1. It’s like “Speed” but for space. Sandra Bullock’s strength as an actress is her ability to maintain a reasonable level of calm in the face of outlandish situations involving things out of her control. Like her star turn in “Speed,”this is Sandra vs. the machine, where the machine is not a bus, but the yawning infiniteness of our universe. Under the microscope of a panic-fogged space helmet, encased for most of the movie in a clumsy space suit, Bullock manages to convey the entire range of human emotion with little more than furrowed brows, a trembly lip and a quivery voice. It’s an amazing performance.
2. This is a 3D movie done right. “Avatar” was awesome if you were high as a kite and had a lot of snacks, but the novelty of seeing the Na’vi and their weird tentacle hair sex rendered in breathtaking realism grew old after an hour or so. “Gravity” uses 3D technology to bring you even closer to the characters, their trials and the vastness of space. If you’re debating spending the dough to see this in 3D, I say dig in between those couch cushions and find the extra scratch to see it in IMAX and 3D. This is the only way to experience the full wrath of Cuaron’s vision.
3.”Gravity” is absolutely beautiful. Space is awesome, terrifying and breathtakingly beautiful. Cuaron’s year and a half in post-production to make the film look seamless and not cheesy pays off. For a jaded movie audience, used to horrible CGI disasters like “300″ and “Thor,” the suspension of disbelief in “Gravity” is immediate and visceral. Despite all the horrible things happening on screen, you’ll be wowed by the images, from the sunrise over the giant spinning globe that is the planet we live on, to the miles and miles of stars and deep, all-consuming silence that is space.
4. The characters are cliche, but somehow, you don’t care. Sure, Sandra Bullock is basically portraying the astronaut version of her character in “Speed.” And yeah, George Clooney is playing the version of himself that we all imagine him to be in real life — helpful, rakish, devastatingly handsome, even in a space suit. The story itself could be a groan-inducing cliche, but in the hands of Cuaron, “Gravity” is an hour-and-a-half of clenched fists, tensed muscles, and held breaths.
5. You don’t need the supernatural to create a compelling thriller. I hate any movie that sets out to scare the shit out of me. I’ve been dragged to see all the “Paranormal Activity” movies in theaters, from behind the grid of my interlocked fingers. Most elements of the supernatural terrify me to no end, because even though I solidly do not believe in ghosts, the thought that there COULD be something of that nature out there, a wisp in the corner of my room or a dark shadowy thing following me home, is terrible. The state of being in suspense is not appealing to me. Somehow, Alfonso Cuaron managed to subvert all my expectations of a thriller, proving that you don’t need the suggestion of specters and ghosts to scare the shit out of anybody.