By Mark Saldaña 

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

With no intention of irony or sarcasm whatsoever, I have to say that Gravity truly floored me, and did this on several levels. Writer/director Alfonso Cuarón, the acclaimed filmmaker of movies Children of Men and Y Tu Mamá También, has made an incredible movie which tells a story of an astronaut and an engineer’s quest to survive a catastrophic event in space. Though the plot and story may be relatively simple, Alfonso Cuarón and his co-writer brother Jonás construct a truly stupendous script which develops the characters and scenarios wonderfully. With this solid foundation laid, Cuarón the director does an outstanding job bringing it to life in all of its beauteous glory. His excellent, though minimal, cast delivers emotional and inspiring performances, and his adept crew deliver awesome visuals with stunning special effects, sound, editing and cinematography. Not only is Gravity a technical marvel, but it is really is a gorgeous work of art, perhaps making it the most well rounded and thoroughly satisfying film of the year.

Space may appear absolutely beautiful, but it certainly has its share of frightening perils. While on a repair mission orbiting the earth, medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) manage to survive the destruction of their space shuttle caused by the flying debris of a satellite. Having only a limited amount of oxygen, the pair attempts a lengthy spacewalk to the International Space Station in hopes of finding another ride home. Because this is Stone’s first space mission, her emotions are in full panic mode.  The more calm and collected Kowalski assures Stone that they will make it home, but have a limited amount of time as the flying space debris will find them again soon.

From the very beginning of this film, I sat awestruck. The visuals on the screen are astoundingly realistic.  The screening I attended presented the film in IMAX 3D which really adds to the experience. If one is not prone to motion sickness with 3D movies, I must strongly recommend watching the movie in this format.  Because of the immersive effect of IMAX 3D, the audience can nearly feel apart of the action. The skillful editing by Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, the superb cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki and the extensive list of crew members responsible for the gorgeous visuals all deserve a standing ovation for painstakingly giving the audience a cinematic experience of a lifetime.

Enhancing the visuals even more is the wonderful sound department and the score by composer Steven Price. The film truly is a technical feast for the eyes and ears, but the artistry in the music really builds on the heart and soul of the story, effectively adding to the thrills, frights and drama. Cuarón and his two leads bring a genuine heart and necessary humanity to the film. Without these key aspects, the stakes would be much lower making the whole experience pointless.

The writing of the Cuaróns and the passion and genuine emotions of Bullock and Clooney really bring it all home. In just a short amount of time, audience members will come to love these characters as if they are close friends or family and will become emotionally invested in their survival. This is especially true with Bullock’s character Ryan Stone, the space rookie having to cope with all of these frightening developments. Every time Stone exhibits panic or despair, I could feel these same emotions. Her performance transcends all that is fictional in the movie. It seriously is an extraordinary performance that deserves nominations for all film acting awards.

It is still too early for me to decide if Gravity will become my number movie of 2013, but I guarantee that it will probably break my top ten. Of all the films I have seen this year; it is one of the few that have really blown me away. Be prepared for a breathtaking, stressful, and emotional ride with Gravity. I’m thinking that it will floor just about everyone who experiences it.

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