"There is no sound in space."
Just a simple line, shown onscreen at the beginning of GRAVITY. However, the effect is immediate - you sit up, you pay attention. These filmmakers aren't conveniently forgetting that space is a vacuum and sound waves can't travel. For a change, here's a film that's going to take its science seriously.
Fortunately, this is also no dry exercise in astrophysics. Quite the contrary - GRAVITY is a white-knuckle experience from start to finish, rivalling the best of the summer blockbusters for spectacle and thrills. It's also a relief that there's no slow build up to the action. Within minutes, a freak accident has hurled astronauts Sandra Bullock and George Clooney into space, far away from the shattered remains of their shuttle. With air supplies running dangerously low, they have to find a way back to earth fast.
With its lean 90 minute running time, smart script and stunning visuals, GRAVITY packs one hell of a punch. Co-written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, it's an intelligent thrill ride that doesn't underestimate or shortchange its audience. The science is, in general, accurate - where it isn't, it's due to the demands of dramatic licence. After you see the film - certainly after, not before, as it's spoiler-heavy - I'd recommend a trip over to AICN and reading Andy Howell's thorough examination of the film's scientific rights and wrongs.
Here's another recommendation - think carefully about where you're going to see this movie. Quite frankly, GRAVITY is going to be best appreciated on the biggest screen you can get yourself to - full-blown IMAX if possible. The use of 3D is more subtle than I expected it to be, preferring to emphasise spatial (no pun intended) relationships over the cheap thrill of putting Sandra Bullock in your lap.
The film has been a huge hit in the US - $200 million at the box-office already and rising - plus there's early talk of Oscars. Hopefully GRAVITY's legacy will be to show that there really is a market out there for intelligent SF movies...and the scientific fact that in space, no one can hear you scream.
GRAVITY opens in the UK on November 8th.