By William Wolf


The cinematography, special effects and overall visual wonders provided in 3D make “Gravity” an eyeful, and the tense struggle for survival by two people stranded in space keeps one steadily involved. But the tale, which opened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), is limited to this survival battle, and there is some cheating along the way to give one of the stars more to do.

Way back in1968 Stanley Kubrick’s landmark “2001: A Space Odyssey” made us feel what it might be like traveling in the great beyond. But his film was about something more than staying alive. It asked questions about what might be out there, where we came from, our relation to the cosmos, the danger of technology taking over, all in addition to pioneering spectacular effects. “Gravity” harbors no such ambitions.

However, within its limitations, “Gravity,” directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who co-wrote the script with Jonás Cuarón, is a visually stunning saga. Sandra Bullock gives a captivating performance as the astronaut heroine using all of her wits and physical strength to try to surmount the tragedy that has engulfed her mission, and George Clooney, as charming as ever, co-battles along with her in his fight to beat the odds. Although unseen, Ed Harris provides the firm contact voice from mission control in Houston.

Congratulations are due Emmanuel Lubezki, director of photography, director Cuarón and Mark Sanger for their editing, Tim Webber for visual effects, as well as all who had a hand in this smartly designed and executed space saga. The look of the film is as much the star of “Gravity” as its performances, perhaps more so.

The film will keep you enthralled, partly by adhering to its tightly-limited storyline and running only 91 minutes. The dialogue may be less than exalting and one may be annoyed at a plot ploy involving Clooney. But the payoff is the stunning aura created and the buildup of nail-biting suspense toward the ultimate result. A Warner Brothers Pictures release. Reviewed October 4, 2013.


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