Monday, December 18, 2017

Review: Even with a few script flaws, stunning cinematography makes 'Gravity' historic

Gravity is 91 minutes of heart-pounding action that will make palms sweat. Even though the script is not Alfonso Cuarón's strongest, he proves once again he is a genius director.

Ambushed by space debris, medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are left stranded without a working ship. Floating around in space, they must find their way to a nearby space station before their oxygen supply runs out.

After taking in some chilling facts about space, the senses are immediately overwhelmed by deafening music followed by disconcerting silence. Cuarón consistently abides by the absence of sound in space with refreshing accuracy, and he terrifyingly depicts the difficulties of movement in zero gravity. The vastness of space drowns the viewer in the same terror and desperation the main characters feel.

To claim this film is anything less than a visual masterpiece would be to undersell it. Opening with an unbroken 17-minute shot, the cinematography is some of the most inspired work in recent years. The camera floats around like an object in zero gravity, which is simultaneously beautiful and disorienting, and the shots flow seamlessly thanks to Cuarón and editor Mark Sanger. Credit must also be given to director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, who is guaranteed to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography this year.

Though the film is a technological wonder, it relies too much on its visuals. Some philosophical elements lie in the basic premise of isolation in space, but the story that ensues is much less intriguing. Everything that can possibly go wrong for the characters does, and yet other moments are too convenient to be believable. The story plays out in real time to make the events seem as natural as possible, but there is some excess of characters panting or doing dull tasks.

Despite being the only two characters on the screen for most of the runtime, Stone and Kowalski remain pretty flat. Bullock and Clooney both give reasonably strong performances, but they have been restricted by the script Cuarón and his son, Jonas, gave them.

Like the cinematography, the music helps cover up the weak story. Steven Price's original score is mesmerizing, haunting and intense, fulfilling the script's needs, breathing life into events to make them more exciting.

Gravity is an unsettling thriller that explores the fear of solitude like never before. The selling point is its undeniably inventive approach to filmmaking and, despite its flaws, it is a monumental game changer in cinematography.

Mark Mukherjee is a senior at King High.

Comments
Toyota planning 10 purely electric vehicles by 2020s

Toyota planning 10 purely electric vehicles by 2020s

Toyota plans to offer more than 10 pure electric-vehicle models in its lineup by the early 2020s, marking the Japanese automaker's commitment to entering that growing technology sector
Updated: 5 minutes ago

Snowfall forces Frankfurt airport to cancel 170 flights

Germany's biggest airport is canceling 170 flights due to snowfall Monday, though forecasters predict the weather will improve over the course of the day
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Golden Knights beat Panthers, move atop Pacific Division

Golden Knights beat Panthers, move atop Pacific Division

NHL Capsules
Updated: 27 minutes ago
New Bitcoin-based security bounces in trading debut on CME

New Bitcoin-based security bounces in trading debut on CME

A new security based on the price of the digital currency bitcoin is trading lower after its debut on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Updated: 1 hour ago
1 year after Berlin attack, anger and questions remains

1 year after Berlin attack, anger and questions remains

Survivors and families of those killed in last year's Christmas market truck rampage in Berlin will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time amid continued anger at German authorities' failures
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cowboys edge Raiders 20-17 by slimmest of margins

Cowboys edge Raiders 20-17 by slimmest of margins

Dallas kept its playoff hopes alive by the slimmest of margins with a 20-17 victory over the Raiders
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tokyo's baby panda appears before selected guests, media

Tokyo's baby panda appears before selected guests, media

A baby panda has made a special appearance before Tokyo's governor, a group of local schoolchildren and the media one day ahead of its official public debut
Updated: 1 hour ago

Afghan official: Attack underway on Afghan forces in Kabul

Afghan official: Attack is underway in western Kabul as gunmen battle security forces near intelligence training center
Updated: 1 hour ago
Carr loses ball dealing blow to Raiders playoff chances

Carr loses ball dealing blow to Raiders playoff chances

The Oakland Raiders already slim playoff hopes all but disappeared when the ball slipped out of Derek Carr's hands as he was diving toward the goal line for a potential winning touchdown
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pakistan steps up security after IS kills 9 in church attack

Pakistan steps up security after IS kills 9 in church attack

Pakistani security forces on high alert day after suicide bombing that killed 9 at a church in Quetta
Updated: 1 hour ago