In Alfonso Cuarón’s GRAVITY (2013), a doctor (Sandra Bullock) conducting a research project on the space shuttle is wrapping up and on her way home when the Russians shoot down one of their own errant satellites with a missile, starting a chain reaction of super fast debris hurtling around Earth’s orbit and shredding everything in its path. What follows is a breathless fight for virtually you-are-there survival using every bit of meager means at her disposal.
There’s not a lot to talk about when it comes to character. Dr. Ryan Stone is in long and deep mourning, which draws her to the solitude of lifeless space. When she’s challenged with a fight to survive, she has to decide if she really wants to live and what she has to live for. Otherwise, really this is a Michael Crichton-scale series of escalating tension and horrible challenges, with a roaring, ominous soundtrack ratcheting the tension to 11, flawless CGI putting your brain in outer space, and plenty of sweat as a single misstep will send you hurtling off to die of asphyxiation alone and in the dark.
In short, the film is beautifully shot, riveting, and pretty spectacular, surprisingly effective to an extent it makes you physically uncomfortable to watch it at times. On the downside, there isn’t much going on other than an astronaut fixing one problem only to be confronted by another bigger problem in a very plot-driven story. Overall, I found it pretty compelling.