Entertainment Movies
Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Gravity' review: Aims high--to a certain extent

*** (out of four)

Filmed on location in space (not really), “Gravity” takes cinema’s immersive visual experience to ambitious places. This isn’t an astronaut thriller that periodically cuts to nervous family members on the ground or flashback sequences about training. For 90 minutes, it’s pretty much just first-timer Ryan (Sandra Bullock), veteran mission commander Matt (George Clooney) and a staggering long view of Earth that can be difficult to focus on when debris threatens to knock you spinning, spinning, spinning out into nothingness forever.

At best, “Gravity” is a beautiful collision of art and technology. How director/co-writer Alfonso Cuaron, returning with his first feature since 2006’s spectacular “Children of Men,” achieved many of the shots (particularly several long takes) will be of primary discussion among audiences on their way out. At a time when few filmmakers deserve to be called visionaries, Cuaron earns the term like a champ.

The movie likewise feels at home in IMAX 3-D, even if sights of floating tears or Matt’s fist popping from the screen come off as trite. Which leads to what probably will be an unpopular opinion: “Gravity” is not a great film. Numerous times the script from Cuaron and his son Jonas interrupts the reality of the imagery. “Ryan, you’re gonna have to learn to let go,” Matt tells her, a line so much like movie speechifying I’m shocked at its inclusion. And Ryan, a Lake Zurich, Ill., resident BTW, actually contemplates her fate and says, “Either way, it’ll be one hell of a ride.” That’s not a vivid, breathtaking journey into satellites and stars; it’s a bumper sticker platitude.

The film also informs us that life in space is impossible, as if we didn’t know that, and gives Clooney a part as an easygoing, charming guy that’s not exactly stretching his range. Bullock’s very good as an outer-space newbie forced to “sip, not gulp” her dwindling oxygen. And, man, that scenery. As the Cuarons force their emotional stakes (including Ryan’s shoehorned-in backstory) and deliver something less than the flawless movie buzz has suggested, it’s easy to think, “Shut up, brain, and just enjoy the view!”

Now there’s a bumper sticker.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Your binge posting on Instagram makes me want to projectile vomit them back at you

    Your binge posting on Instagram makes me want to projectile vomit them back at you

    You don’t get out much. That we know for sure.

  • Byrne Interchange work: Get ready for traffic heartburn

    Byrne Interchange work: Get ready for traffic heartburn

    The heavy lifting will begin this month on the overhaul of the Byrne Interchange near downtown Chicago, leading to anticipated expressway traffic tie-ups mostly over four weekends stretching into the fall, officials will announce Monday.

  • The best performances of Lolla 2015

    The best performances of Lolla 2015

    We saw a lot of great shows this weekend, but these were the best of the best. It’s gotta be Paul McCartney for me. The man is a legend and seriously an amazing performer who knows how to give the people what they want. Lolla wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Paul, and I really hope it won’t be my...

  • 3 dead, 37 wounded in weekend shootings

    3 dead, 37 wounded in weekend shootings

    Shootings across Chicago left three dead and 37 wounded over the weekend, including a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy who were injured in separate shootings about five minutes apart Sunday evening.

  • Lolla day 3: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 3: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Somehow, Lolla’s all over already. This is what we loved and didn’t enjoy quite as much from day 3. Best: I gotta give it to Florence and the Machine. Seems like an obvious choice, but she was just so fun and engaged with the crowd (and the storms). Even her songs I wasn’t familiar with were exciting...

  • Red carpet report: 'The End of the Tour'

    Red carpet report: 'The End of the Tour'

    This past January I was lucky enough to be on the red carpet before the Sundance premiere of “The End of the Tour,” which opens Friday in Chicago and stars Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky, the journalist interviewing Wallace as they travel during the last...

Comments
Loading
81°