Gravity ****

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“Gravity” has to be the best movie going experience I have had this year so far. It is one of those must see, unique films that reafirms why we love the movies to begin with. After a long summer of non stop effects film, none of which ever truly inspired us, comes a movie that no studio wanted to make.

Director Alfonso Cuaron has crafted a masterpiece of razor sharp suspense using some of the most stunning visual effects I have ever seen put to film. But visual effects can only come to life if the performances and the danger feel real. Here I actually felt like Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were struggling to stay alive.

The plot is fairly simple. Clooney plays Matt Kowalski, the commander of a team of astronaughts. He is planning to retire and never tires of telling stories from his life to ground control as well as his team. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first mission in to space. During their final space walk to service the Hubble Space telescope, they are warned by Mission Control that debris from a Russian missile strike is hurdling their way. Before they can abort the debris impacts the Explorer detatching Dr. Stone and sending her tumbling through space.

The debris tears through everything like butter. The ship burts in to pieces. How they filmed these moments is a mystery to me. Describing them will be difficult. All I can really say is that space has never been represented so well before in my opinion. When something comes apart, it explodes in to a mess of pieces. The characters then hurtle in all directions uncontrollabley.

The performances are among the best I have ever seen from these actors and that is saying something considering their resumes of great roles. Bullock in particular spends a great deal of time alone but manages to bring us in to her emotions as she runs through memories of her life. Clooney is also good at turning his charm off on a dime and taking charge and making a tough decision when the time calls for it.

A lot has been made of the demise of 3D lately. I have not been a fan of the format so far. I can only think of a few films that truly looked breathtaking with a third dimension. “Gravity” is one of those films. It begs to be seen not only in 3D, but in the IMAX version. The massive screen, eye popping visuals and the mind blowing musical score by Steven Price simply cannot be viewed for the first time on your TV at home.

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