Gravity – a critical mass of critique

There are three types of people that I don’t want to read this post.

Firstly those people who have seen Gravity and either disliked, diminished or were unmoved by it. I just don’t get you. It makes me uncomfortable that you would read this review. So please don’t.

Secondly, if  you’re the type of person who is planning to download Gravity and watch it on your laptop, iPad or wrist phone (while you’re on the train) –  then don’t bother. The movie maker’s art is not for the likes of you.  Never has been. Never will be. Everybody hates you and your devices. So stop reading.


Lastly, if you were planning to download Gravity and watch it on your million inch TV with billion watt sound system nestled in the cinema cum man-cave of your volcano cum evil mastermind lair (all funded by the theft of IP) then stop reading now, go to the cinema and buy a choc-top. You unpleasant tight-arse.

So having passed my filter I assume you’ve all seen the trailer but haven’t been able to get to the movie because you were saving orphans or traveling to Mars. Fair enough. Because if Gravity is still showing at a cinema by the time you read this I implore you to see it there. The bigger the better. Don’t wait for it to leave and then watch it on DVD like some modern-day douche.


Gravity opens with a slow moving, beautiful shot of  the crew of the Space Shuttle – Flight SDS 157 – repairing part of the Hubble telescope.

Performing the repairs is first time astronaut and scientist Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock). Nauseous, awkward and uncomfortable, Stone is all business, wants to complete her job and pack up. No sight seeing, no staring in awe at the awesome view. Mission commander, and hopeless space-romantic, Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) floats around Stone in a jet pack swapping jokes and stories with command centre in Houston.


The atmosphere is as serene as the vista and we learn that this happens to be Kowalsky’s last mission. Despite his best attempts he won’t get the record for the longest space walk.

The calm is interrupted when Stone and Kowalsky are ordered urgently back inside the shuttle. A Russian satellite decommission has gone badly wrong and fragments of the satellite have turned into deadly space debris traveling at 90,000mph towards the Americans.

Tell me something...

Tell me something…

With only seconds to try and get back into the shuttle they don’t make it, and are caught outside as the debris smashes into the shuttle and the Hubble telescope. Stone is flung out deep into space, spinning over and over, unable to get her bearings in the ensuing catastrophe as the debris rips apart whatever chance there was of getting home.

With oxygen running low, Stone’s spacesuit morphs from life preserver to tomb. Her panicked breathing taking the place of the stunning visuals as the point of interest. At this point a rich, deep and expansive location is meshed with a suffocating, harrowing and personal ordeal. Think Open Water, 127 Hours, Buried, Hot Tub Time Machine. But in space. In 3D.

It is also at this point that Stone and Kowalsky must dig deep and determine how, against all odds and with no communication, to survive for the next 90 minutes. Let alone harbour hope of getting back to Earth.


In terms of describing the plot this is as far as I’m willing to go. It’s all you need to know from a review. Its all you should know from a review.

I’m probably better at describing how this film makes me feel rather than get into the mechanics of the whole affair. And in this case the whole is so much more than the sum of the parts, rich though they be.

As the film built initially slowly and then hurtled towards its conclusion I have to admit that tears welled up. More than welled up actually. And I have seen this three times in the cinema now and it actually affects me more each time. Either I’m going mad or this is extremely good. I don’t see Gravity as an effects film (like everyone else), yet if I can see it in IMAX I’ll go again. Which is odd. The format somehow amplifies the emotional impact. I didn’t think it would but it does.


It’s astonishing how well we get to know and care about mission specialist Ryan Stone, her fears, disappointments, defenses, tragedies and strengths on such sparse dialogue. She is so human. And that is the heart and soul of Gravity right there. Deep, personal, majestic human struggle.

Gravity is beautifully crafted, exquisitely acted and taut. There is no waste, nothing without purpose or place. George Clooney creates a polished and sympathetic surface for Bullock to shine against. She does not disappoint. It is a beautifully controlled performance worthy of a brace of awards. The music and sound is every bit the equal of the cinematography and acting.


If you love movies I really do hope you’ll make the effort to see Gravity in its natural habitat.

And if you do, I trust you find it to be the powerful and overwhelming experience that I did.

10 out of 10

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Categories: Drama, Films

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2 replies

  1. Completely agree, this is one of those movies you just have to experience on the big screen. After seeing it in 3D digital IMAX I watched the trailer on my TV and it just wasn’t the same. It is the reason I went for a second time the same week (bringing my father along who had never watched a 3D movie before and was impressed). Will not be surprised if Bullock earns an Oscar for her performance here, it is great.

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