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Film Review: 'Gravity' is a must-see 3D ride

October 04, 2013|By Andy Klein
  • Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone in Warner Bros. Pictures' dramatic 3-D thriller "Gravity," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone in Warner Bros. Pictures'… (Courtesy of Warner…)

The trend toward exhibiting nearly everything in 3D on gigantic screens has created far more headaches than masterpieces. James Cameron's “Avatar” showed the value of the technique, despite the movie's so-so script. A few other films — Martin Scorsese's “Hugo” and Werner Herzog's “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” among them — made it seem passingly worthwhile. Now along comes Alfonso Cuaron's “Gravity,” which matches Cameron's technical achievement and is better written. It may be the best 3D film to date.

The story is neither new nor startling: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play Stone and Kowalski, two American astronauts who find themselves drifting in space after their ship is damaged. Much the same tale was told in John Sturges' 1969 “Marooned” and doubtless some others. Nor would the script seem brilliant on paper. The dialogue is almost all technical with little bits of personal emotion thrown in. The latter material helps draw us into the characters, but is the weakest element in the project.

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We meet the two, and one other short-lived astronaut, as they float outside the shuttle that serves as their extraterrestrial home base, making a minor repair. Suddenly mission control warns them to get back inside: A satellite has exploded, sending debris hurtling through their hardware-crowded orbital level. Worse yet, this debris has already struck other satellites in a sort of chain reaction, so they are likely to be bombarded repeatedly. In addition, the destruction of all this human space tech means that they no longer have any radio contact with mission control.

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