Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Welcome to Outer-Space  

Gravity 2013Credit: Cory Stophlet, 2014

Staring Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone and George Clooney as Matt Kowalski, the NASA shuttle “Explorer’s” commander and veteran astronaut must make an upgrade and repairs to the Hubble Telescope. A “must be” in all plots is that things just don’t go as planned; something must go wrong; and, well, things go very wrong for our shuttle crew. You might have heard or asked the question yourself; what happens when debris in space comes in contact with astronauts during a space-walk. Guess what, surprise—surprise, bad things happen, people die and our characters must overcome a few, seemingly, insurmountable obstacles. 

The movie completely hinges on the acting talent of Sandra Bullock; she makes what could have been a boring film riveting. George Clooney as the supporting role, presents us, not just an experienced astronaut, he serves to be mentor throughout the mission, even when her survival looks bleak. I realize that sounds quite formulary; it is from a plot line. However, if anyone can take a standard plot line of “alone and hope for survival is gone,” it is Sandra Bullock. During the space-walk scenes, Clooney as Bullock’s Obi-Wan Kenobi (a reference to the Star War's character), constantly talks to her about casual topics and encourages her to rely on her training; all this chatter and mentoring sets-up Sandra’s scenes in the latter half of the movie.

Special effects and the scenery are also crucial to the success of the film. It is easy to get absorbed into the setting. If there was a mathematical formula for the correct ratio of action, to speaking parts, to scene setting and special effects mix, this film achieves it. This being said, it’s the script and acting of our two key stars that make the movie a success.

Here you are in outer space, the great unforgiving vacuüm of darkness, trying to repair a damaged super-telescope when you learn that a debris field is heading your way. Your work to repair the Hubble is not finished; time and circumstance are working against you. Eventually, things go from bad to worse, as they must in a good drama. zing, ping, pop, crash, smack, snap, you hear and feel as the debris reaches you and the crew before you make it to safety. Tether lines get undone. Astronauts get set-a-drift and struggle back to safety. The ship gets damaged. Someone has to save someone else. Someone must die. And, we have the lack of oxygen and the freezing feel of the cold of space to experience. Can things get any worse for our stars? Yes! You’ll have to watch the movie yourself  

Not a Blood and Guts Movie

It’s not a blood and guts movie. There are no bizarre space aliens to overcome. No sex or nudity. Thus, this film is family safe. It’s not a little children’s story (children under age 12); not because of anything questionable, it’s only because there might not be anything in it for the youngest kids to enjoy from a “fun” perspective. This is more of a character study movie; an overcome your challenges and fears kind of flick. When interviewed about the movie, the creator and director,  Alfonso Cuarón, (co-written with Jonás Cuarón), stated in interviews that there is a metaphorical aspect of the film on overcoming obstacles in life. This element of the film makes it worth while for young viewers. The very young, however, might spend half the movie asking why, why, why and where are the aliens. 

Bottom Line:  This is a great movie. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney make the movie great. They could have made this a stage play without the special effects accept what’s shown on a backdrop screen and it would still be worth watching. As I said above the special effects help make the movie a blockbuster for the masses; however, the story line and performance of our two main characters are the real selling point. Clooney is just as suave and debonair in a puffed-up space suit as he is in a black tuxedo. The guy can anything look good. Sandra’s performance is convincing and, well, she looks hot in the spandex.