Do you wanna go to space?
The options of getting there are pretty limited. You can book a flight on Virgin Galactic but it will cost you Two hundred and fifty Thousand Dollars (U.S.) and they do not commence commercial flights until 2014. I, personally, have neither the money nor the patience.
There are a couple of powerful hallucinogens that will get you pretty close. I, personally, have neither the connections nor the brain cells.
And there is always Disney Studio’s (formally Lucas Films) action ride Star Tours at Disneyland that will faux shoot you out to space in 3D for a heavily licensed adventure. That’s really been your best bet until now.
If you really want to get as close to getting out in Zero Gs as possible, you can do no better than buying a ticket for the new space thriller “Gravity”. Director Alfonso Cuarón has delivered a technical marvel that transports you beyond the stratosphere unlike any film that proceeds it. Viewing the spectacle is almost more an experience than a movie. And it’s bares more emotional weight than Star Tours. If that’s possible.
The synopsis is perhaps the simplest in the history of moving pictures. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is working on a spacecraft orbiting our planet when it is struck by shrapnel from a demolished Russian satellite. She is 60 kilometers from the surface from the Earth (I don’t know the conversion of that into American speak but its more than plenty far up there) as she is flung out into the void. This happens in the first ten minutes of the story (all told in one spectacular, seemingly un-cut shot that opens the film) and the rest of the ninety minute running time focuses on Dr. Stone incredible journey to survive.
“Gravity” is crazy stuff and left me in awe. I am no expert on special effects but I do feel that I usually have a general grasp on how visuals are brought to screen. I have no idea how they made this movie. Nearly every second feels like it truly was captured in orbit. I felt like a child again in a way that “Gravity” seems to possess a sort of magic that makes the images miraculous.
Cuarón, in his first full length film since 2006’s fantastic “Children of Men”, has found a perfect vehicle for his unique aesthetic. He lives for those long shots that transport you into the film if done correctly. These extended takes can be dangerous, as they either become distracting as a heavy handed technique or they allow for an authentic viewing experience as the absence of cutaways presents the action as if you were there, gliding along like the Eye of God. With “Gravity,” the long takes actually elevate the film as does the use of 3D. Here is the rare occasion (see last year’s “Life of Pi” or James Cameron’s “Avatar’) where the 3D technology is an integral part of the storytelling. See it in I-Max. See it in 3D. See it in Smell-O-Vision if available in your area.
Finally; the cast. I will, for the first time here on Cinemastance, list the entire cast of a motion picture:
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Eric Michels and Basher Savage. That’s it. And even this list is misleading as Miss Bullock and Clooney are the only two living faces you will see on screen (note: I said ‘living’). All others are voices heard and they are heard only briefly. And as Clooney provides some brief comic relief (the moment when he lets go of Bullocks hand provided an unintentional laugh), this is all Bullock. A one woman show. She gives a powerful performance that never slips a glimpse of the fact that she was all alone in room with nothing but green screens to act off of. While the tech around her is enormous and bafflingly good, Bullock matches it with a human element that grounds the entire movie.
“Gravity” is virtually flawless. A groundbreaking event that needs to be seen in a brick and mortar theater to fully be appreciated. Don’t you dare wait for Redbox.