Before the 7:00 p.m. IMAX 3-D showing of Gravity began last night at Penn Cinema in Lancaster, PA, I had never before sat through an entire, full-length feature film and not looked away from the screen. I can no longer say that. As I write this review I am still affected by what I experienced. I keep thinking about it. I’m actually still generally uncomfortable. What would it be like to be there? How would it feel? How scary would it be? How amazing would it be? Would I want to come back to Earth?
Disclaimer: As a moviegoer I follow 1 rule before I walk into the theater: If a movie is not based on true events, wholly or loosely, I accept what I am going to see and hear is fiction. There are people who have seen, heard and reviewed Gravity that do not follow this rule. They have rules of their own. These people have written or said many parts of this movie are not realistic or they couldn’t scientifically happen. At least one of them has gone so far as to say this movie is a crime against science and space exploration. If I could have a moment with these people privately, I would simply say, “IT’S A FREAKIN’ MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The film begins with white text against a black background. Some characteristics of a space environment appear on the screen to give you a base of information to keep in mind during the film. The last line of text ominously prepares you for what you are about to experience: Life in space is impossible.
From the moment the film began I felt uncomfortable. The environment the characters (played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) are in is completely foreign. Their behavior is foreign. I was uncomfortable about it all because the people who wrote, directed and filmed Gravity take you there. I mean, right there. You are with the characters and experience what they are. It’s the fear of the unknown taken to a level I had not before experienced in a movie theater. Through the highs and lows of the film that uncomfortable feeling changes but is constant.
I am not into spoilers and will not tell you anything specific about events of the film. The run time is 90 minutes and approximately 85 minutes take place in space. The majority of that 85 minutes the characters are out “in” space. Not in the Space Shuttle Explorer, not in a space station. It’s not like Star Wars or Star Trek or Apollo 13 or any other space-themed movie. They are out in space. If you consider that, you may start to understand what I mean by uncomfortable. I can promise you it is an experience you have not had in a movie theater. Nothing about it is familiar. It is truly amazing.
The people responsible for this film have my utmost respect and gratitude for making this experience a reality for us. Gravity was written by Alfonso and Jonas (Alfonso’s son) Cuaron, directed by Alfonso, and produced by Alfonso and David Heyman. Without a doubt Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is the part of this experience more than anything else that makes it so foreign, so uncomfortable and so entertaining. Obviously, the film required an abundance of computer-generated imagery. It was all done very well. Automotive robots were also used and several days of filming required Bullock to be in a giant mechanical rig for over 10 hours a day.
I insist you experience this film, in IMAX 3-D, if possible. It is an experience I will never forget. I don’t know if it will forever change filmmaking or dramatically enhance the technology used. If you go, please go by my rule and remember it’s a movie that is NOT based on actual past events. It is entertainment. In its highest form.