“Gravity” is a blockbuster of elegant simplicity.
It’s a supremely satisfying night out at the movies, that works as a thrill ride, but is more nuanced and tightly wound than you might expect.
Director Alfonso Cuaròn gets right down to business almost immediately.
We join astronauts George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on a routine mission to upgrade the Hubble telescope.
He’s a veteran on his last mission; she’s a scientific genius but a spacewalking newbie.
All hell breaks loose when debris from some shattered satellites knocks them loose from their space shuttle.
After the film’s dynamite trailer, I wondered where they would go from there since they are set adrift within the movie’s first 20 minutes.
But the film really envelops its audience in the vast emptiness of space while exploring both the joys and the terrors of being untethered floating above Earth.
Clooney is his usual charming self, offering old war stories and missions as though he were Danny Ocean in a spacesuit.
But the gleam in his eye still works inside a that massive space suit.
Sandra Bullock gives a far better performance here than she did in her Oscar winning role in “The Blind Side.”
She’s the only one on screen for long stretches of the movie and she commands the screen.
The film gives her a sliver of a back story, but doesn’t spend too much time weighing her down with a lot of complicated neuroses.
She’s defined by her actions in this time and place as she’s put to the test.
The visuals are nothing short of spectacular with some of the most dynamic visual effects since 2001.
And I give Director Cuaron a lot of credit for not overstaying his welcome.
In an age of overlong, overstuffed blockbusters full of subplot after subplot distracting from the story, “Gravity” has the courage to present its main course exactly as it ought to be.