Monday, 18 November 2013
90 Minutes. Starring: Sandra Bullock & George Clooney. Director: Alfonso Cuaron.
Houston...we have a problem. It's been two years since NASA's last space shuttle mission and when it comes to space travel in a science-fiction dominated 2013, everyone is looking to the futuristic fables like 'Oblivion' or 'Elysium' and the rebooted, rebranding of all the 'Star' 'Wars' and 'Trek's in J.J. Abrams' lens flare eye of vision. Even classic 'Apollo 13' director Ron Howard is staying grounded in the tarmac of Formula One for this years 'Rush' of petroleum powered production. I guess, good old fashioned space-travel entertainment has been drifting around with that golf ball they fore-casted off the moon all those landings ago. Then again there's one man who likes this mission and his name is Alfonso Cuaron. The one-time 'Harry Potter' director with 'Great Expectations' even had a lobbying desire to actually film this out of this world and in space. Yeah, and try and explain losing one of Hollywood's best to the never ending black-hole that is the night sky above earth. It doesn't get much bigger than Sandra Bullock and George Clooney either. Even Kirk couldn't boldly go to retrieve these guys from a never ending washing machine spin cyclone through the cycles of space.
This threat is the makings of this thriller and drama which shows that all it needs is a couple of actors and a perilous premise to really reach new movie-making depths without hitting the shallow subjects of say an 'Open Water'. Like Ryan Reynolds 'Buried' alive the crafting of this concept is classic. In the seas of space, which the U.S.S. Enterprise voyaged like moral bound pirates, anything can happen swimming against the darkest depths and what results is a strong story to go with some of the most classic cinematography you'll see ever. You may just finally have use for those Roy Orbison 3D glasses and extra pounds or bucks for those IMAX seats, because these spectacular effects are truly special. In three dimensions you'll be truly immersed in the final frontier that you'll feel awe inspired surrounded by the world around you, but all that space might make you sick with every twist and turn of this thrilling plot and set pieces with a puking punch. If you thought from the open seas of a liner to the confines of a hijacked lifeboat was the most tense and claustrophobic thing you'll see and feel all year, then I'm sorry Tom Hanks' 'Captain Phillips' but you haven't sat in a satellite pod, with only counting down percentiles of limited oxygen as your company. These guys have though and against the tides of a career resurrecting performance and year from Tom Hanks only the likes of Clooney and Bullock could possibly keep up the Oscar race with this fellow 90's defining great.
When your confined to an astronaut suit that gives you the range of motion of the marshmallow man off 'Ghostbusters', what you say better mean something and this perfect partnership have the behind the visor look to go with the simple but subtly strong script. The master of the warm, press-conference smile George Clooney steps up his facial expressions for a wise worded, guided performance of a veteran spaceman on his last mission. Funny, forthright and typically Clooney the man who took television drama's to the 'E.R' heights of filmography is up further in the air again and truly belongs in the modern movie world with another great performance to add to his list that is as versatile and deep as it is underrated and somewhat overlooked. Suffering from the same good looking fate as fellow 'Ocean' Brad Pitt, one of not only Hollywood's but the worlds brightest stars has some of his time in the sun blinded by how big his name is. Orbit around his career and this and you'll see just how great his justified talented range and character is in this supporting performance. This is Sandra's show though and manning her biggest career vehicle since 'Speed', the woman who returned to the Academy of great film-making with 'The Blind Side' is having quite the Tom Hanks year herself. Following a couple of years off here and there and 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close', Bullock proved she has the comedy chops for 'Bridesmaid' Melissa McCarthy for 'The Heat' and her hot streak reaches the sun here. With depth and will it's as hard to believe here character is a space rookie, just as it's impossible to fathom this actress is almost 50. Give her another half century for an 100% performance however.
The perfect atmosphere makes for a pressurized cooker of action and drama in a film that will set off a new chain reaction in the ever evolving but from essence made science-fiction genre. With two of the best performances from two of the best leading men and women in acting, Cuaron has the perfect direction for an edge of the world, edge of your seats picture that stands out in 3D to really draw you in to its atmosphere. Adding a familiar voice for communicating back home with Houston, this film is the perfect homage as well to the great expeditions that's proceeded it. When it comes to space movies this ones in a world of it's own. After 2013 Tom Hanks and Ron Howard may not need their next 'Apollo 13' right now-while Kevin Bacon has his own commercial start in everyone's movie-but they have a lot to contend with next February when it comes to Bullock and Clooney's tethered together rocket launch. From the still calm of a peaceful space, to their silent, powerful threats that lie within it, this is as beautiful and brutal as it gets. Simple but superb there's more to be explored in this space than anyone thought or imagined. This wilderness ship-wreck is more than just a lot of stars. It's the physical and psychological battle of momentary ingenuity over permanent isolation and strength of will over the peril of destruction. When it comes to all this spirit in the silence of the vacuum of space, 'Gravity' really pull you in from your center to its core. This is earth-breaking. TIM DAVID HARVEY.