Gravity

Gravity ★★★★

It's a funny old thing is science fiction.

I think that more than any other genre, it really does divide people on what they want from it. I guess that could be the result of being a genre that, 99% of the time, is paired off with another genre to create a story or product. Many genres can work just fine on their own but science fiction always seems to have to be paired off.

The closest I have ever seen to a pure science fiction film that isn't (as) reliant on other genres to pull it through is the magnificent The Andromeda Strain. But even that culminates in a frantic last 15 minutes or so that very much push it in to the thriller genre as well.

So it is always interesting to me when a science fiction film garners such widespread positive and sometimes overwhelmingly lauding reviews as Gravity seems to have done, judging by my activity page in the last month or so. As I've stated before, it's quite fun watching the scrum of reviews, the occasional outburst of indignation when the first person comes along to offer a counterpoint to the general opinion, and general chaos that results when an event film like this hits the screens.

Having sat back and let things die down down just enough for the smoke to clear, even though Gravity is still bothering a fair few multiplexes here in the UK as I write this, I have to say that the fuss generated by the film surprises me somewhat. What I saw was a very solid, very enjoyable but ultimately very simple sci-fi thriller. Nothing life affirming or astonishingly visionary or daringly forward-thinking in terms of its narrative. Just a cracking piece of Hollywood entertainment.

I'm almost slightly disappointed that I wasn't greeted by some kind of offbeat and risk-taking film that ultimately maybe failed with me by Alfonso Cuaron, who I previously thoroughly enjoyed the work of through the two other films I had seen by him - Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children Of Men. Once the end credits hit, even despite the fact that I really enjoyed this, I was almost tempted to ask, "Oh. Is that all?"

There are two possibilities here, I guess. One is that I've missed something here - a presumption I always have to make what with not being the sharpest knife in the drawer. Or the second is that perhaps Hollywood has let us down way too much in the last decade or so when it comes to delivering high calibre but simple entertainment like this that it is a bigger event than it perhaps should be when they do actually get it right.

I guess it's perhaps more of the latter that has linked together people who would normally demand something different from their science fiction and that is perhaps Gravity's greatest achievement - that it has transcended sub-genre appreciation and garnered such widespread admiration. So it should, despite one or two faults that do not prove to be too impactful on its overall quality.

SPOILER HERE

There are one or two too many one-liners in here that feel slotted in for no other reason than to get a theatre full of movie-goers fist pumping and as someone who hates Jersey Shore, I can't get on board with that. Nor could I really get on board with the 'hallucination' scene that Sandra Bullock has. For me that's just a souped up 'Oh shit, it was a dream!' scene and very rarely do I let a film get away with those.

SPOILER ENDS

However, this was great fun. Steadfastly refusing to arse around too much with the science of it all and instead just throwing disaster and catastrophe at you every few minutes and coming up with solutions that more often than not rely on blind luck and a good pair of hands (good job these roles weren't being filled by England cricketers or this film would last about 10 fucking minutes), Gravity is also surprisingly lacking in subtlety. For a rare occasion, however, that doesn't actually work against it.

Even though I do regard myself as a George Clooney fan (although I don't think I could ever forgive him for Syriana), I would say Gravity is the film that proves once and for all to me that he's a great movie star but not necessarily a great actor. Fortunately for him, however, this is a film far more reliant on him being the former rather than the latter, and the same is asked of Bullock, who I can't say I have ever really been totally convinced by as an actor either. She more than does the job here, though.

Very enjoyable and gripping throughout, I was still left ever-so-slightly disappointed by what I saw even though I'm sticking 4 stars on this. Perhaps that is to the credit of Gravity. Or is it? I don't know. Well worth the ride, mind you.

Steve G liked these reviews