By Maggie Ng

Gravity is a masterful science-fiction thriller directed by the acclaimed Alfonso Cuarón, starring Oscar-winning actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Sagacious medical engineer Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) are on a seemingly routine maintenance of the Hubble telescope when disaster suddenly strikes in the form of a treacherous debris chain reaction caused by Russia’s planned eradication of one of its own satellites. The huge amount of debris destroys the space shuttle, leaving Stone and Kowalski stranded in the vast, baffling, and incalculable vacuum of deep space. Fascinating, stimulating, and riveting, Gravity is a seat-gripping 90-minute ride that is literally out of this world.

Very much like gravity itself, the film pulls the viewer into the mysterious, eerie realm of deep space within its first few seconds.  One tremendously memorable moment is the starting scene, in which viewers are plunged into a deafening silence that envelops a majestic, breathtaking view of Earth from outer space.

Space is devastatingly silent, which many of us Earthlings, even Stone herself, may find strange yet comforting.  After all, it can be exceptionally challenging to find a quiet spot among the hustle and bustle of our daily lives here on Earth.  Gravity explores this seeming peacefulness of space, yet it also shows the other side of the coin in how overpowering the silence can be, engulfing one in complete loneliness and desolation.

Clooney and Bullock both put up realistic and captivating performances. Charismatic yet assertive, Clooney brings out his character’s role as the team leader effortlessly and convincingly. Bullock, likewise, gives an outstanding interpretation of her role as a medical engineer, in which she explores not just space alone but also the delicacy of life and the unimaginable grief before death. One compelling aspect of Bullock’s performance to look out for is her ragged wheezes. In fact, it is almost impossible to miss her prominent breaths. Her depiction of the varying degrees of stress, despair and relief that Stone experiences throughout the mission through simply breathing is truly admirable. There is indeed an unimaginable amount of emotion that can be conveyed in a series of exhalations.

Also, how can one possibly ignore the astronomically stunning visuals? The beauty of Earth, the enigma of deep space, and the intricacy of space debris would not have been successfully brought across here if not for the phenomenal cinematic effects. If you happen to have extra cash on hand, it is highly recommended that you watch Gravity in IMAX 3D.

Unfortunately, the plot can get rather predictable at times. Be it running low on oxygen and fuel or facing an onslaught of debris attack, you soon realise something ill-fated is bound to happen every few minutes. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a swashbuckling adventure in space along the lines of Star Trek, prepare to be disappointed. Gravity aims to portray the timeless beauty, petrifying danger and shocking effects of outer space as accurately as possible; there is definitely no fun and games when it comes to carrying out life-threatening space missions.

Incidentally, it might not hurt to brush up on your physics before watching the film; it would definitely aid in better understanding the gravity of the situation and the characters’ resulting actions.

With the number of sci-fi movies increasing, life in space is evidently a popular topic for a wide range of audiences today. People are curious and attracted to the notion of space travel and the possibilities of life in the future beyond Earth.  However, Gravity stands out because it portrays space in a realistic yet electrifying manner, which leaves moviegoers hungry for more even after the credits. Gravity is definitely an eye-opening, informative and jaw-dropping movie suitable for movie junkies, science-fiction fans and anyone who is looking for a trailblazing, thrilling movie experience.

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