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Gravity

And you thought George Clooney was up in the air in 2009!

How good is Gravity? It’s pretty darn good, but it falls way short of greatness. Still, it’s a movie to see because (1) it’s a complete, competent movie with only two onscreen actors and (2) it has some spectacular images.

Is every special effect awesome? No, a few are fakey, obviously done with miniatures. But many do look terrific.

The title has two meanings here. Gravity is the force that pulls us to the earth. And gravity describes a tense, serious life situation.

George Clooney, as astronaut Matt Kowalski, defies gravity—both kinds. As a veteran of the space program, he has escaped earth’s gravity numerous times. And in a time of looming danger, he wants to tell stories of a trip to Mardi Gras in the 80’s and flirt with space chum Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock).

Astronauts (especially those from the Right Stuff era) are a different breed but Kowalski seems more like a typical earthbound Clooney charmer than a NASA space cowboy. His almost flip attitude is balanced by his deep fascination with the views he sees, even after many trips to the sky.

Stone, on the other hand, is all business. She’s an engineer and has a stoic, let’s-stick-to-the-task disposition.

Their spacewalk is interrupted by orbiting space debris. The flying flotsam wreaks significant havoc on its first go-around. The experienced Kowalski points out that the next orbit of space junk could be worse.

Interestingly, when Stone takes refuge inside a space station, the first thing she does is strip down to her shorts and t-shirt. Sure, it’s less bulky than a spacesuit, but it also serves to add a bit of sex appeal when she “swims” weightlessly through the facility. This setting renders a memorable shot when the camera backfocuses on a floating tear.

Gravity is essentially a story of survival, one where human instincts merge with technical knowledge and skill. To be sure, we haven’t seen this many narrow escapes since Indy Jones hung up his fedora. But the intensity starts early and keeps going to the end. Enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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