90 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
The prospector in the waterless desert. The mountaineer in a blizzard. The shipwrecked sailor on a raft.
There have been plenty of movies about humans trying to survive in inhospitable situations, but few are quite as terrifying – or beautiful – as that depicted in “Gravity.”
As just about everyone knows by now, the latest film from the chameleonic Cuaron – a veteran of kiddie lit (“A Little Princess”), teen sex (“E Tu Mama Tambien”); a Harry Potter movie and a dystopian future (“Children of Men”) — is set in outer space and centers on two astronauts (played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) who are marooned when their space shuttle is destroyed by debris from a Russian spy satellite.
“Gravity” isn’t the first stranded-in-space epic…Ron Howard gave us “Apollo 13” in 1995 and long before that there was the melodrama “Marooned” in 1969.
But it is without doubt the most realistic, so perfectly capturing the feel of life in orbit that on the drive home from the theater I couldn’t quite shake the sensation that I was part of a weightless environment.
The film begins audaciously with a single, uninterrupted 12-minute shot in which Cuaron’s camera seems to slowly float around the orbiting shuttle and the Hubbell telescope, which is undergoing a repair job.
The lady with the wrench is Ryan Stone (Bullock), a scientist on her first space flight. Ryan is installing new circuitry of her own design on the Hubbell, and pride of ownership is the only reason she’s doing the job herself.