It is hard to tell if the characters in Gravity knowingly
paraphrase Star Wars when they say they ''have a bad
feeling'' about their repair mission, 600km above Earth, but
it proves to be the understatement of the year.
Houston, they have a lot of problems when those crazy
Russians blow up their own malfunctioning satellite, without
thought of the billions of pieces of shrapnel it creates in a
storm cloud hurtling towards our heroes.
Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney) are the
space-walking astronauts caught outside in the rain of
debris, which turns their shuttle into Swiss cheese and sends
Stone somersaulting into the void of space, where no-one can
hear her scream.
The adrift duo set out for the International Space Station,
just as Stone's oxygen starts to run out.
Clooney engagingly cruises just as much as his veteran
mission commander does in his rocket pack. This
country-music-playing space cowboy finds time to flirt with
Stone despite being surrounded by imminent destruction.
Captain Kirk would be proud.
Harris is heard but not seen as Mission Control, surely an
inside joke as he played the Nasa chief who barked ''failure
is not an option'' in Apollo 13.
However, this is really Sandra's show and Cate Blanchett in
Blue Jasmine has a new rival for the best actress Oscar.
Visual and digital trickery is just window-dressing unless
actors sell it as real to the audience, but this cosmic girl
convinces, from world-weariness to hopeless panic, from grief
to blissful acceptance and from bemusement to a newfound dug
deep will to live.
The audience holds their breath as much as the stricken
astronauts when calamity makes way for disaster. Mexican
director Cuaron choreographs fantastically long shots which
let us absorb the beauty of earth and the horror of their
predicament, enhanced by pin-sharp digital clarity and the
most artistic use of 3-D yet.
Five popcorns out of five
Starring: Sandra Bullock (The
Heat), George Clooney (The Descendants), Ed Harris (Pain
Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Children of
Reading Cinemas Queenstown.