“Gravity” and Sandra Bullock Captivating Despite the 3D.

"Gravity".

“Gravity”.

Gravity arrives trailing truckloads of hype and weighed down by a cacophonous word of mouth. But for once, it delivers.

Nominally set in space and in some not too distant future, like so many science film films, and not just Star Wars, it’s really just a western dressed up with fancy futuristic toys.

Sandra Bullock is the lonesome hero pitted against the forces of evil, with the effortlessly charming George Clooney as her sidekick. Clooney manages to be charming even when he’s doing and saying things that, irritatingly,  have been designed and fabricated to charm,  and still pull it off.

Alfonso Cuaron directs Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Alfonso Cuaron directs Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

But it’s Bullock’s film. Only instead of having to square up to an even meaner bad guy than the one she’s just disposed of, she’s faced with a set of insurmountable technological obstacles, each one even more hopeless than the one before.

Inevitably, there are existential musings about life and love and the meaning of it all.  And yes, as some critics have pointed out, for someone who’s supposed to have taken on the job because of her love of silence, she does an awful lot of talking to herself. And sure, Clooney is little more than a pastiche of any number of identikit sidekicks from those 70s B westerns or 80s cop films.

But their performances manage to transcend all of that. Coupled with the fact that Alfonso Cuarón, the film’s director, has managed to use all the time, effort and imagination invested in the technology in the service of the story.

So there are times when you manage to forget that everything you are watching has been happening in what appears to be zero gravity. When suddenly, and movingly, you’re reminded again of the alien background against which all this is taking place.

Cuarón shot to fame with Y Tu Mama Tambien in 2001, before getting inveigled into directing one of the Harry Potter films. He’s spent the last seven years making Gravity, getting its technology right, but he and his son who wrote the script with him, never lost sight of the story.

Not a profound film. But then nor does it try to be. Just an old fashioned, seat of your pants, thrill of a ride that’ll keep you rooting for the good guy and praying she pulls through, in a brilliantly told and performed story that you completely believe in. Despite the fact that they ended up shooting it in 3D.

Sandra Bullock in "Gravity".

Sandra Bullock in “Gravity”.

And yes, here we are again. It’s Life Of Pi all over again – reviewed earlier here.

3D was a gimmick in the 50s, a gimmick in the 70s and it’s a gimmick again now. Gravity is a marvel to look at and listen to, but because of the seamless merging of digital effects and physical acting. And the magnificent use of sound and music. It has nothing to do with the fact that it was needlessly shot in 3D. Go and see it in 2D. Either way, see it.

Here’s Gravity’s trailer.

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