Very few movies have the ability to get me to watch them two days in a row, much less in a theatre where the entire process of watching the movie involves online booking of tickets, taking an auto to the theatre, standing in queue to get into the movie hall, putting on my 3-D glasses and actually enjoying the entire experience. And Gravity [IMDB Link] is one such movie where I probably am more than willing to do the entire routine for a third time as well. That speaks volumes for how good this movie really is.
The plot of the movie itself is nothing novel and kind of reminds viewers of movies like Castaway and 127 hours where the protagonist is stuck in a ‘tight spot’ not due to his/her own choosing and has to figure a way out of their ‘sticky situations’. In Gravity, the story deals with the travails of Dr Ryan Stone (played wonderfully well by Sandra Bullock) and how she gets stuck in space (of all the places) with Lt Matt Kowalski (George Clooney at his charming best) due to a damaged Space Shuttle mission.
In the beginning their mission is going Ok when things go horribly wrong when debris from a destroyed satellite causes a chain reaction of events which forces them to abort their mission. During the process of them taking emergency procedures to return to Earth, the flying debris and resultant chaos end up in both of them literally floating around in space with extremely limited resources and options to get back home.
What happens from this point onwards forms the basic premise of the movie.
While the plot itself is no great shoots by itself, what takes the cake as far as Gravity is concerned is how Alfonso Cuaron (who has also directed Y Tu Mama Tambien, the Spanish cult classic and The Prisoner of Azkaban from the Harry Potter series) takes this limited premise and plays around wonderfully well with the screenplay. He makes the movie a living example of how Murphy’s Law of “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” and creates situations in the movie which will have the audience holding their breath, biting their lips and feeling the anxiety of the characters in the movie itself. And given that all of this is taking place in space, which is not a natural environment that the audience cannot relate to easily, speaks volumes for how well the director knows his craft and how riveting his screenplay is.
In terms of scientific accuracy, while the director has taken a few cinematic liberties, most of it is as accurate as it can be. So much so that leading US astronauts with experience in various space missions have gone on record stating that visually and scientifically the movie is as accurate a description of space as it can get on screen.
To quote Buzz Aldrin (the second man ever to land on the moon) – “I was so extravagantly impressed by the portrayal of the reality of zero gravity. Going through the space station was done just the way that I’ve seen people do it in reality. The spinning is going to happen—maybe not quite that vigorous—but certainly we’ve been fortunate that people haven’t been in those situations yet. I think it reminds us that there really are hazards in the space business, especially in activities outside the spacecraft.” He quoted this in his review of this movie in The Hollywood Reporter [Link to review].
The director Alfonso Cuaron also uses various visual cues extremely intelligently to convey subtle messages to the audiences. Some easy examples are Sandra Bullock curling up in the fetal position when she reaches the relative safety of the International Space Station and the various shots of the Earth’s reflection in the astronauts’ helmets which somewhat portray the emotions that are going through them at that point of time in the movie. There are many more such instances but am not going to reveal them as they might result in spoilers for the readers.
In summary, Gravity is one of those once in a lifetime kind of movies which transport the audience to another plane (quite literally in this case) and give them an awesome experience. While the movie has only two actors and a reasonably limited premise, the fact that it manages to keep the audience riveted to the screen for all 91 minutes of its running time speaks volumes for how wonderfully engaging it actually is. Don’t wait for the DVD Release or download a torrent of this movie, catch it in a theatre especially an IMAX Theatre if your city has one.