"Gravity": Utterly Lost in Space

It cost $80M, takes place in Earth's orbit, and stars some of the world's biggest celebrities, and yet Alfonso Cuarón's breathtaking Gravity feels like an indie film about two people using their wits to survive in impossible circumstances. American astronauts Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Kowalsky (George Clooney) are working on the Hubble Telescope when disaster strikes, cutting off communications with Earth and leaving them to fend for themselves while avoiding clockwork swarms of debris. Cuarón one-ups his famous Children of Men tracking shots with an opening act achieved in a single take, and knowing it wasn't really filmed in space make it no less impressive. This fluid style also makes the 3D Gravity (which, to be honest, should have been called Inertia) one of the few movies to truly convey that there's no up or down in space, and because Cuarón also respects the fact that there's no sound in a vacuum, Steven Price's beautiful score does a lot of the heavy lifting. Working as both spectacle and a nail-biting puzzle, Gravity is a welcome throwback to the kind of astounding science fiction once heard on radio shows like X Minus One, with the equally welcome (and once-unthinkable) progress of a female hero. It's also one of the best science fiction movies in years.

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