‘Gravity’ movie review

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3D is regarded by many as merely a gimmick shoehorned into Hollywood’s tent-pole movies in a desperate attempt to make them better (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) or as an excuse to hike up the ticket price. Not so with Gravity.

The visuals are why critics have been raving about it. Without them or director Alfonso Cuarón attached, this would probably be a halfway decent Sandra Bullock–vehicle. Thankfully, Gravity transcends that, so shell out for the plastic glasses and prepare for lift-off…

From the first moment we see Stone – suspended at a precarious angle with Earth gleaming, serene and huge, in the background – you are blown away by the visual scale of this movie. It transitions between glacial and high-octane with ease: from the grave silence of a space shuttle crowded with corpses to a blazing thrill-ride of a climax. Everything looks achingly beautiful.

Cuarón has succeeded in not letting the grandiose outer-space setting overshadow his two leads and the moving story of human perseverance at its heart. Rather, it enhances it. Something as simple as a character desperately trying to cling on to a ledge is amplified by the yawning endless black space below them. Children of Men-style continuous shots and lingering close-ups on the characters’ faces draw you in and keep you in, connecting your emotions with theirs.

Bullock is a triumph as Ryan, carrying large portions of the film on her own – think Ryan Reynolds in Buried. We could argue that it would have been refreshing to see a confident female central character in the situation instead of a “damsel-in-distress”-type newbie who jumps at everything, but the character choice adds to the film’s tension and Ryan is relatable as a result.

Smooth-talking and witty Matt serves as a good foil for Ryan, but there is little acting effort required from one of Hollywood’s dreamiest actors. That said; his comedic timing and box office-pull are welcome from the viewpoint of both an audience and perhaps Cuarón.

A simple story beautifully played out, Gravity is one of the most original, stunning and intense films of this year. Forget Avatar – this is the 3D game-changer we’ve been waiting for.

Released in UK cinemas on Thursday 7 November 2013.