“Gravity” is spectacular, even if it is hard to believe


Sam Lineberger

I remember first seeing the teaser trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s 2013 film “Gravity.”

A breathtaking view of Earth from above was soon interrupted by a flash, followed by shimmering debris and by the sound of Sandra Bullock, playing character Ryan Stone, yelping desperately.Gravity

So the film would clearly be about a small crew of astronauts faced with the great beyond after a surprise calamity. I’d seen things like this before.

At best, I thought “Gravity” might turn out as something of an homage to Ray Bradbury’s short story “Kaleidoscope,” which records the intercom chatter of a dozen or so spacemen as they hurtle out into the dark as the result of a ship malfunction. At worst, viewers might suffer through 90 minutes of an “exploitation film in space” featuring two aging stars.

Fortunately, this wasn’t the case with “Gravity.”

The always-charming George Clooney (Matt Kowalski) offers an above-average performance as a sort of a laid-back muse character, not altogether different from Sam Elliott’s character in “The Big Lebowski” (1998). Bullock acts as an intelligent medical engineer on her first trip outside the atmosphere who must come to terms with both her nerves and a haunting past.

As advertised, it does not take much of a stretch to claim that “Gravity” is one of the most visually satisfying films of all time.

Whipped-cream clouds whirl on the marble-like blue planet. The emerald-green Aurora Borealis is contrasted against one of the most charismatic black skies in all of film.

“Gravity” was born for the big screen, and is one of only a handful of movies to actually warrant a 3-D experience.

There are few miscues, and they are unfortunately magnified by the conceptual nature of the film as well as the sometimes less-than-rousing pace.

First of all, the crew does not behave very convincingly at times. The constant horseplay, though fun, is not entirely believable.

In addition, many viewers will find themselves scratching their heads at a number of seemingly obvious scientific inaccuracies. Despite this, I find that nitpicking comes more easily than creating what former NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman in a Forbes article called “the most realistic space movie ever,” despite its occasional misrepresentations.

If you can get past a handful of hard-to-believe instances, you can begin to enjoy “Gravity” for what it is: a spectacle. Flawless cinematography combined with a decent emotional thrust and several unforgettable scenes make for a film that deserves its Oscar nod.

“Gravity” shows in I.G. Greer Auditorium on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at both 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $1 at the door.

Rating: four out of five stars

Story by Sam Lineberger, A&E Reporter