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Three astronauts are conversing in space
As they work on the space telescope,
Till one gets a piece of debris through his face,
And the others are left without hope.
A medical engineer named Ryan Stone
Is sent whirling out in the void,
But Matthew Kowalski, with comforting tone,
Gets her to their shuttle (destroyed).
That onslaught of wreckage, an old satellite
That the Russians were unwise to blow,
Will orbit around and have them in its sight
In the next ninety minutes or so.
Matt calms her and tells her they’ll carefully soar
To the space station off in the distance.
Stone tells of her daughter, who died at just four,
And Matt tries to spur her persistence.
They make it, but Matt makes a bold sacrifice
And goes drifting away into space
To let Stone get aboard, though he gives her advice,
While she finds a way into the base.
As she floats through the halls, a fire breaks out,
And she narrowly gets to a pod,
A Soyuz spacecraft, which she’s happy about,
Till its chute won’t allow her abroad.
She tries to get loose but is hit by debris,
And she barely escapes that as well.
It shatters the station and sets the ship free,
But she’s out of fuel, she can tell.
She attempts giving up, but is spurred to survive
By Kowalski, or rather his ghost,
So she figures a way to (just barely) arrive
At a plummeting Chinese outpost.
She gets in the Shenzhou space capsule to land,
Determined to live or die trying,
She says that the ride down will truly be grand
And can’t avoid laughing and crying.
She tells Matt to visit in heaven her daughter,
And burns through the earth’s atmosphere.
She finally lands (just by chance?) in some water,
Thus ending her spaceflight career.
Her module and suit nearly cause her to drown,
But she swims to the pond’s muddy banks,
And, feeling Earth’s gravity weighing her down,
She walks off, relieved, giving thanks.

Gravity was the most eye-catching film of 2013 and with good reason. It is pure spectacle, full of long, continuous scenes designed to make the audience say, “How did they do that?” From the quietly tense devastation caused by the zooming debris to the seemingly simple weightlessness of the characters and everything else, Gravity is a wonder to behold.

At the heart of the Oscar-winning visual effects are the two leads, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Both are excellent, but I actually preferred Clooney’s performance. Bullock is certainly the star, but other actresses could have done just as well (Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett, or Julia Roberts, for example). Clooney’s smooth, reassuring voice gave his character much more personality, and I thought he was just as worthy of an Oscar nomination as Bullock.

Though it’s less than a year old, Gravity has already begun to earn a reputation as overrated, full of impressive special effects and little else. I agree to some extent, but it does offer more than just visuals. Ryan’s backstory is quite touching and emotional, as is her wish for someone to pray for her since she was never taught how.

In addition, films like Avatar and the Transformers movies were visual feasts for the eyes but were so long as to be overindulgent. Gravity is comparably short at just 91 minutes, and Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón achieved much more artistry in that time than any of those films combined. The scene of Ryan floating as if in the womb and that of her rising from the water in the evolution-inspired finale (with a welcome “Thank you” sent heavenward) are two beautiful sequences that wouldn’t be found in other effects extravaganzas. The immersive, Oscar-winning score does much to build tension and emotion, especially paired with well-timed cuts to spatial silence.

My VC felt there was too much of Bullock just breathing hard, as well as annoying alarms going off, but I prefer these to the vast stretches of nothing in the similarly artistic but nowhere-near-as-entertaining 2001: A Space Odyssey. While there are similarities to other space disaster films like Marooned, WALL-E (hello, fire extinguisher!) and Apollo 13 (especially since Ed Harris played “Houston” here as well), Gravity is a film like no other, presenting seamless visuals sure to blow you away.

Best line: (Ryan Stone, in a massive understatement) “I hate space.”

Artistry: 10
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 7
Visual effects: 10
Originality: 5
Watchability: 6
Other (language and brief violence): -4
TOTAL: 42 out of 60

Next: #194 – Hoosiers

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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