I’ve often wondered what outer space is like.
And Bullock and Clooney give the material their all-out best. Bullock in particular has her best performance since The Blind Side, and it had to be because she spends more than half the movie holding her own in a scene. Many of us know that Bullock has not been in the best movies, but this movie brings out something in her that I don’t think we’ve seen before, something that allows you to really connect with her as both an actor and a character. Even among the visual effects (which are stunning), Bullock stands out as she struggles to stay alive. In many ways, the movie’s story is like a shipwreck survivor tale in spite of the fact that it is set in space. Bullock uses every mean possible to stay alive in a space that can take her life in more than one way. Even if the odds aren’t in her favor, she holds on.
Before disaster strikes, Bullock and Clooney are compatible with each other, exchanging conversation as they free-float in space. When a huge space storm hits, the realistic look of it all really makes you feel like you are there, especially if you see it in 3-D (which I recommend).
Bullock and Clooney are sent tumbling away into darkness, and the first question one thinks of in that moment is “What will happen next?” Cuaron does his best at making sure we don’t get bored as Bullock and Clooney embark on their journey. Surprisingly, the movie calms down to the point that you almost forget the disastrous beginning and find yourself drawn back into the quiet, even as Bullock struggles, and it’s an eerie feeling in a few ways. But Cuaron also keeps us on our toes when Bullock runs into disaster again and again, so the movie never gets dull that way either.
From the acting performances to the visual effects, everything in this movie re-defines the word “Whoa.” If there’s any way to define this movie, it’s gripping. Even though you yourself never leave Earth, the movie feels so real that you’ll feel like you’re there with Bullock and Clooney, and even feel weightless long after you leave the theater.
Four stars, no questions asked.