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Gravity

(2013)
Good reviews and word of mouth propelled me to see this film, and to shell out the extra $4 for 3D I was told that yes, it was that well done. Gravity features exactly two actors George Clooney as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski and Sandra Bullock as a relative newcomer to outer space, a doctor named Ryan Stone. While Stone and Kowalski are outside the shuttle making repairs to the Hubble telescope, a debris field from an accidental destruction of a Russian satellite hurtles around the globe and smashes into the shuttle, stranding the two in space. From there they must try to reach a Russian station in order to survive. Gravity is less about the plot straightforward, though absorbing and more about the atmosphere and performances, both of which are simply stellar. The soundlessness and weightlessness of space are captured in a way they really havent been before, not even in 2001; when either of the astronauts spins out of control, its a jarring experience, as it no doubt would be in real life. Up and down lose any sort of value or meaning, adding to the isolation the two characters feel. Both Bullock and Clooney are at the top of their games here, Clooney turning on the charm as the experienced Kowalski who is so at home in space that initially his chief concern is setting the spacewalk record; he guides Bullock along, talking her through her nervousness, helping her and the audience grapple with the strangeness of the environment. Bullock is also rock solid here she gets to work with a darker emotional template largely consisting of frustration and fear, but its never overstated and utterly natural. Its hard to describe the effect of the atmosphere, particularly in 3D; items dropped or discarded do not fall but wander around the screen randomly, sometimes diverting your attention away from the characters. This is obviously intentional, as one brilliant scene with tears belies, and while its effective inside a space station or in enclosed areas, where it really soars is in space, where the Earth occasionally peeks into the background, or stations and debris move about with vigorous energy but no sound, rendering the visuals all the more vital. Im doing a poor job of describing the film because I want to give so little away. This is easily the best movie Ive seen all year, emotionally and visually captivating. While watching this, I had the thought Ill never be able to watch Star Wars or Star Trek again (JJ Abrams had seen to that anyway, but) because what happens in space here with no sound and two people is infinitely more captivating and engrossing than what happens there. This is, simply, must-see viewing, and the best use of 3D Ive ever seen, including Avatar. See this one in the theaters, because it just wont be the same at home. October 12, 2013