Is it wise to make an audience feel physically disoriented, claustrophobic, and unsettled? I’m not so sure. In addition to immense stress and one-too-many suspense hangers, that’s exactly how Gravity will make you feel.
This is due to director Alfonso Cuarón’s excessive use of first-person and single-shots that are heavy on pans. The effect certainly made me empathize with the lost in space heroine. But I’ve seen a lot of other movies that make me empathize with characters, not because of cinematography tricks, but because of powerful acting.
Not that Bullock isn’t convincing in this. But the script she’s performing against feels shallow compared to other movies with stronger motive. In other words, she did a wonderful job with the little she had.
Another thing that keeps the movie from five star status: The sound design and score. The studio over thought it. It’s like they tried to go after that iconic Hans Zimmer single-note Joker theme from The Dark Knight, but failed to keep it in tune and made it messier. And instead of avoiding music to their advantage at key points, the movie was almost too quiet. When it wasn’t, it was playing tinny country music broadcast from earth.
That said, the photography is stunning. In terms of visual art, Gravity is easily a five star film. But visuals alone do not a great movie make. When coupled with its two star sound design, three star script, and four star acting, the best this five star-looking film can muster is an overall four stars out of five.
Even that is slightly generous.
Worth seeing for art, enjoyment, and space’s sake. Probably not worth owning.