After what seems like a frankly unfair delay following its preposterously successful release overseas, Gravity - the most talked about cinematic event for quite some time - will hit cinemas this week. At last, we can finally see what all this buzz, fuss and mad critical frothing has been about.
The brainchild of Children Of Men and Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón, it tells the story of a pair of astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney - henceforth known as ‘Bulloney’) who get into a pickle while tinkering with the Hubble Space Telescope. A pickle involving a cloud of errant shrapnel whizzing around the planet at 20,000 miles per hour. Shrapnel which has a handy knack of putting holes through anything it encounters, including spacecraft and - ipso facto - soft, squidgy human faces.
Make no mistake: everyone will be talking about Gravity next week. If you're are um-ing and ah-ing about whether to make the trip to the cinema then there are a few things you should know that might sway your decision one way or the other.
Gravity is really, really good
Let’s get this out of the way first. It’s probably one of the most exciting, dizzyingly-intense film experiences ever made. There's strength in its simplicity: here’s a bad situation two people are trying to get out of that gets steadily worse. That’s the story. Sure, there are character-based moments, but essentially it’s a lean, 90-minute thrill ride. There isn’t an ounce of fat. When it’s over, you’ll want to watch it again. And you can’t say that very often.
But there are problems...
Quite a few. Mainly, the script hovers somewhere between functional and an episode of Neighbours set in space. It’s mawkish, a little cheesy and, occasionally, daft as a bag of gerbils. There are a couple of “erm...really?” moments, and the emotionally-coercive music couldn’t be less subtle if it came into the cinema and pinched the sensitive bit of skin under your arms. There are no deal-breaking faults, but with all the five-star reviews and orgasmic proclamations flying about, it’s best to go into the cinema with expectations realistically managed.
You have to see it in 3D
From beginning to end, it’s mind-bendingly unbelievable to look at. However Cuarón managed it - and the leading theory at this point is by some kind of insidious voodoo - he’s achieved his vision, and then some. Shots linger and swoop for minutes upon minutes; the camera hurtles across vast expanses of space before settling inside the astronauts’ helmets; it calmly surveys the mighty vista of the Earth, and portrays inevitable calamity with hypnotic fury. Most strikingly of all, you forget you’re watching slick special effects and accept you’re in space. The 3D is used perfectly, and it’s one of those rare instances in which seeing it in 2D will be a vastly inferior experience. Your gob will hit the deck in the first minute and stay there until the final credits.
It will restore your faith in Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
Bullock is impossibly strong yet disarmingly vulnerable and heroic; Clooney is in the full-on, in-control, silver fox role he does so well. They convey a palpable sense of terror at the situation - and from within the confines of a space suit and script this lumpy, that’s no mean feat - and forge a believable relationship in 90 minutes of almost real-time action. Bullooney FTW.
Do not go and see it with a hangover
Just a general warning. The combined effects of swoopy acrobatic shots and immersive 3D are moments of head-lolling dizziness; perfect if you’re in the mood, but not so great if you’re already feeling queasy. Forewarned, and all that.