America’s space program may be reduced to a remote-controlled joyride on Mars, but know that Hollywood continues to dream big: Virtually every shot in Alfonso Cuarón’s technothriller is a stunner. (See it in IMAX 3-D; let’s not be coy about the appeal here.) Earth dwells blue, airy and massive on the bottom edge of the frame, while shuttles and satellites pirouette with Kubrickian grace. Suddenly, debris rains destruction on everything; then it’s all wailing alarms, emergency checklists and the frantic tugging of safety cords. That’s Gravity for you.
Almost as an afterthought, two of the movies’ most likable actors, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, try to supply a little heart, the former as a driven loner, the latter as a yukster. Frankly, you won’t notice a word they say. Cuarón, a magician who brought personality to the Harry Potter series, is after pure, near-experimental spectacle. You’ll wonder how he got his humans to seem weightless in every shot (a triumph of computerized animation, superimposition and other crazy techniques), not about the dramatic weight they bring to the scenario—close to nil. Don’t expect the poetic presence of an ape or a monolith and you’ll be just fine.
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