"Gravity" is as close to perfect as a movie experience gets.
The film is epic without being epically long (clocking in at a bladder-forgiving 90 minutes), and out of this world in every measure: acting, directing, visuals and sound.
Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. George Clooney plays veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, who tries to use his charm to help her get over the disorientating nature of space.
The audience shares Stone's disorientation, thanks to director Alfonso Cuaron's (who also penned the film with his son Jonas) brilliant work. There's no up, no down, no left, no right. Just two people moving -- dancing, really -- in the vast, beautiful emptiness that is space.
That beauty is disrupted when their shuttle is destroyed, and Stone and Kowalski are sent spiraling into the blackness with no communication back to Earth and dwindling oxygen and hope.
It's how Stone and Kowalski deal with the most basic human fear -- the fear of dying (and dying alone) -- where Bullock and Clooney shine. Watching 90 minutes of a person panicking would wear on both actor and viewer; Bullock deftly oscillates from sheer terror to resolute calm. Clooney never wavers from his charming hero mode, but that's his appeal.
The 3D is very well done (and this coming from a reviewer who usually shuns 3D movies) and "Gravity" should be seen in IMAX for maximum effect.
It's an extraordinary ride, and one of the best movies of the year.
5 out of 5 stars
-- Lawrence Yee
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