All right, let’s move on to something a little newer. It came out just last summer, and it’s now up for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (which means you might still be able to see it in some theatres if you missed its original release).
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
Astronaut Ryan Stone (yes, apparently that’s a girl’s name) is on her first spacewalk when disaster strikes: a cloud of debris from a massive explosion on Earth hits her spacecraft and sends her and another astronaut, Matt Kowalski, spinning into blackness. Fortunately, the other astronaut has a jet pack. But the odds are still stacked against them as they fight to get back to Earth in one piece.
“I hate space.”
Why I Love It:
Aristically speaking, Gravity might be the best sci-fi movie I’ve ever seen. I saw it in IMAX 3D, and it was actually worth the money, because it was the closest I’ve ever felt to actually being in space. The cinematography, helped by a pounding, epic soundtrack, is incredible.
It’s also one of the most terrifying movies I’ve ever seen. Space is not a friendly place. There’s nothing to breathe, there’s nothing to hear, and as Gravity constantly reminds us, there’s nothing to catch you if you fall. One of the scariest scenes happens at the very beginning, when Ryan is thrown away from the wreckage of the spacecraft and starts to somersault over and over. The camera invites us inside her helmet to see what that kind of helpless, out-0f-control motion might feel like. There are scenes like that throughout the movie, and I was still twitching with adrenaline half an hour away from the theatre.
Some of my science-y friends like to point out all the scientific flaws in Gravity – jet packs don’t really work like that, you don’t really move with that kind of momentum in space, etc. But you have to give them a break: this movie probably does more to acknowledge the existence of physics than 90 percent of all science fiction ever. So they got a few things wrong. At least they tried. And the result is beautiful and scary and breathtaking enough for me.
But my favourite thing about this movie is Ryan. She’s such a well-drawn character, and acted soooo well by Sandra Bullock. I don’t care that she already has an Oscar: she deserves another one for Gravity. She had to hold an audience’s attention almost all by herself for most of the movie, and she did so beautifully. And thus, sci-fi gives us another much-needed female heroine (who isn’t wearing bikini armour).
If you didn’t get to see Gravity in the theatre, you missed part of the experience, but you can still enjoy the story which gives the spectacle its reason for being. You should do that.