I had the good fortune to go see the film "Gravity" last week. What follows is a spoiler free review.
I really enjoyed "Gravity". It is an extremely well made Hollywood film. It is tense, heart pounding and exhilarating. It kept me captivated for nearly two hours. It reminded me an awful lot of last years Oscar winner "Argo", in that this is the type of movie that Hollywood used to churn out all the time in the 70's. Quality idea, quality script, quality director and actors, add them all together and you get a quality film. It is an indictment of Hollywood that films like "Argo" and "Gravity", which are good, well-made films, are the exception rather than the rule.
The "Argo" comparisons also apply to the casting. Ben Affleck isn't the greatest actor in the world (he is a really good director), but he is a movie star. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney aren't the greatest actors in the world either (although Clooney is a great producer and good director), but they are certainly movie stars. Movie stars are very good at being themselves and being likable. Affleck, Clooney and Bullock have made fantastic careers out of being likable people. When you have a slam dunk of a story, like with "Argo" and "Gravity", and you have a very skilled director as both films have, then you don't need a transcendent performance from your lead actors. You just need your lead actors to be consistent and to put asses in the seats. Bullock and Clooney fit that bill without a doubt.
I have never been much of a fan of Sandra Bullock, but I found her very likable in this role. She is still Sandra Bullock doing Sandra Bullock things, and George Clooney does George Clooney things, but that is really all that is required of them. The best performance in the film is that of "Space". Space/The Abyss is unrelenting and unforgiving, and makes for a perfect screen villain for Bullock to battle.
That's all the good news, the bad news is that the film is entirely forgettable. It is sort of like a delicious Chinese food feast that you thoroughly enjoy, yet leaves you hungry twenty minutes later. I was highly entertained for the duration of the movie, but afterwards could hardly recall any of it. There are no transcendent performances, no particularly memorable shots or scenes(just like with "Argo"). That doesn't make it a terrible film, it just makes it a watchable, well-made, yet forgettable one.
That all said, I am sure Sandra Bullock will be nominated for an Oscar, as will the film. Like "Argo" last year, Hollywood will probably want to congratulate itself for doing it's job and honor a star for doing hers. I look forward to the day when Hollywood churns out these types of films on a regular basis so that they don't deserve Oscar attention, but for now they are few and far between, so they will get lots and lots of award attention.
In conclusion, I recommend "Gravity". It will entertain you, just don't expect it to change your life, or even your day.
SPOILER ALERT: A quick paragraph on a metaphorical look at the film with spoilers in it.
In a weird way I kept thinking about Bullock's big break-through role in "Speed". "Gravity" is like the grown-up version of "Speed", except much better. Bullock plays herself, only twenty years older and wiser after two decades of surviving the rough and tumble world of stardom. Clooney plays the Keanu role, just older and a little less dim, and "Space/The Abyss" plays the villainous Dennis Hopper role testing Bullock's mettle at every turn. If you look at the film that way, it becomes a metaphor for surviving Hollywood. Bullock has had her ups and downs and maybe even considered giving up, but she has soldiered on and never let Hollywood take her soul even though she has lost a lot, the least of it is her little girl, which obviously represents her loss of innocence, artistic and otherwise. Keanu, of course, was a big star, but has since drifted into the ether just like Clooney does in the film, presumably never to be seen again and also presumably by his own choice, and Hollywood as represented by "Space", is relentless and unforgiving and soul sucking. Hollywood will suck the life out of you if you don't have your protective suit on, and it is a devastatingly lonely and treacherous place for the few elite who get to bask in the view from above of all those little people down there. That is one way to look at the film, especially if your a metaphorical lunatic like me.