johnlink ranks GRAVITY (2013)

As usual, I am catching up on old Oscar winners while everyone else is talking about new Oscar winners. One day I’ll be current, though that day will probably not be until my children have gone off to college. I guess, what I’m saying, is that I’ll be current some time in the 2030s.


I watched GRAVITY (2013) on 1.12.15 (my wife’s 30th birthday!). It was my first viewing of the film.

When GRAVITY came out during the 2013 Oscar season there was a good deal of negative talk concerning the science of this film. That doesn’t happen in most science fiction. People don’t spend their time discussing the scientific validity of, say, the wormhole in THE AVENGERS. But GRAVITY was a real looking movie, with two major A-List actors, and a gorgeous production value. Part of the brushback against the science fiction as it pertains to GRAVITY is that everything just feels so real.

So we can put aside the validity of the science going forward here. Yes the space stations are too far apart to scoot around between them on a space jetpack. Yes, astronauts floating through space and bumping against a space station moving at its real speed would destroy the astronaut in a mess of body parts. No, the very realistically proposed Kessler Syndrome would not wipe out the space stations due to the fact that the orbit of said space stations is intentionally on a different plane from a the rest of the riffraff in space.

When it comes to the movie GRAVITY, none of those things matter any more than the fact that a wormhole opens up above the Earth in AVENGERS. We take the stretches of reality with a grain of salt because we know that we are watching for the characters rather than for realism.

GRAVITY doesn’t have many characters, but it does have good ones. We only ever see three people. At the start of the film, new astronaut Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is installing something on the outside of their vessel as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) tells his same old tired stories and Shariff (Phaldut Sharma) uses his spongy ship attachment to turn himself into a human tetherball. Meanwhile, Mission Control (Ed Harris) is chatting everyone up from Houston, though we never see him.

Quicky, things go south. Due the the aforementioned Kessler syndrome a single destroyed satellite hits other satellites and creates a chain reaction that has the debris orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes as it all becomes bullet-fast death shrapnel. The surviving astronauts become stranded and have to find their way to different space stations in order to survive.


Stone becomes our main hero, and her survival is more than half of the film’s thrust. While experiencing this we learn all sorts of things about her. Her father wanted a boy so she has a bit of a complex because of that, her daughter died in a freak accident, and she spends as much time as possible alone in the quiet. Her story is a story of the will to survive. She is given the opportunity to check out and die a peacefully slow death. She instead chooses to fight. The filming of Alfonso Cuaron is not subtle in the visuals of rebirth. Stone starts as a fetus, attached to her surrogate parent (Clooney’s Kowlaski) who teachers her how to properly live. We later see moments depicting Stone in the fetal position in a womb-like ship and we also get to see her ‘first steps’ after a violent (re-)entry into the world.

Cuaron, who conceived of this film long before he gave birth to it, really stamps a mark on the movie in this regard. He wants this to be a story of re-birth and the fight for survival, and it is. The technical elements of the film – almost everything in the film, other than the actor’s faces, is CGI – was painstakingly created. This is the first film that has ever made me lament the fact that I did not see it in 3D. It is a wonderful blend of quiet character and loud technical achievement. It’s less than subtle filmic qualities are somewhat understated when we realize that the parent of this film is probably more AVATAR than APOLLO 13.

This is a really good movie. The 90 minutes breezes by. While the depiction of space life and the quietness of the vacuum of space may make it feel like a great film from a thematic standpoint, this is really more entertainment and spectacle than landscape-altering drama. And not only is that okay, it is kind of refreshing. Cuaron wants to excite us, not educate us. He wants us to learn about humanness, sure, but he wants to do it at 17,500 miles per hour.



The bonus is for the special effects. Some of the work, particularly the destruction of the ISS, is breathtaking.


FINAL SCORE: 7.75 out of 10


~ by johnlink00 on January 13, 2015.

17 Responses to “johnlink ranks GRAVITY (2013)”

  1. Great Review! I loved this movie but it was one of the ones that made me wish I rated movies by categories like you. I also think it’s a little inconsistent to give Gravity a hard time for its science and not other movies.

  2. Gramma,

    I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this movie so much that I want to do it with it. I think people knew how good it was and came out bashing some of the FICTION to get attention. Or the script. Who goes to the big science fiction space disaster movie and rags on the SCRIPT???


    Your Grandson

  3. Great review. I liked this movie but I didn’t love it. I loved all the stuff that went into it, but the finished product was good, not great.

  4. This movie was great. It just kept me watching on the edge of my seat. I managed to catch it on TV (32 inch screen). I can’t imagine how much more intense it would have been on the big screen.

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