Like “Avatar” this is a movie unlike anything you may have seen before.
Following an extensive tracking shot in space, we meet Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock). Dr Stone is a medical engineer completing repairs, on a mechanical arm attached to the space shuttle, in orbit hundreds of miles above the earth.
Jet packing around like a middle aged Buzz Lightyear is Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Whilst defiantly attempting to break the space walk record, Matt still finds time to trash talk and listen to music whilst floating free above the earth.
We get to hear mission control and all is well until suddenly, not so much any more. Debris from a ricocheting satellite is heading the astronauts way and it’s travelling fast.
Houston we most definitely have a problem, events then start to escalate fast with some spectacular destruction. If the debris does not get you on the first pass, it will be back after a ninety minute orbit, perfect movie suspense material.
We then follow the only two characters we really get to meet, as they struggle against adversity and an unforgiving environment as they attempt to survive.
After a while you realise you are witnessing two actors to all intents and purposes acting within a zero gravity setting, even though you know that cannot be true. Once you accept this as the reality you are presented with, it is easy to jump aboard the rollercoaster ride the film then becomes.
Despite being action packed and edge of the seat tense, all within a relatively short running time of 91 minutes, director Alfonso Cuaron finds time to innovate with some classic scenes. Dr Stone slowly rotating in a foetal position, tears floating away in zero gravity and globules of fire suspended in mid air, a few notable examples.
The director makes good use of sound or lack thereof and on occasion, includes vertigo inducing, claustrophobic sequences that may have you staring at the floor in relief, as characters spin out of control into the infinite void of space.
The story is simple but largely effective, how far would you go to survive when every natural element is attempting to kill you.
The effects are unlike anything you may have seen before, the acting from Bullock is first rate, she may never have been better. It is good to see her back on the big screen and in such trim form.
Negatives, Clooney does his usual shtick and is more casual than you might imagine the character would be. One also wonders why Stone is up there wielding a spanner in space, with the emotional baggage she is carrying.
Ultimately whatever the ending, this is a life affirming film and most defiantly not science fiction, with alien monsters notably absent.
How the film was achieved can be found elsewhere but within the acting constraints imposed, Cuaron has extracted an impressive performance from Bullock, who may yet trouble Oscar when the time comes around again.
One of the years best and likely to prove a big box office hit if the early reception is anything to go, this may also be the closest most audiences get to experiencing real outer space in their lifetime.
Thoughtful, breathtaking, ground breaking and a thrilling adventure ride.
Like it or hate it, you will not have seen anything like it before, this comes highly recommended especially on a big screen