I saw “Gravity” in 3D at a local theater on a rainy Wednesday night. When the lights went down I realized I was the only customer.  For the next 90 minutes I watched spellbinding 3D outer space action while experiencing the void of an empty theater.  I thought someone would eventually arrive and break the spell, but no one came in. I normally wouldn’t recommend that a movie showing have only one customer, but upon hearing that Gravity is breaking box-office records, I am glad that the movie is making money otherwise.

Sandra Bullock, as Ryan Stone, works on the space shuttle in "Gravity."

Sandra Bullock, as Ryan Stone, works on the space shuttle in “Gravity.”

Gravity, released in 2013, stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and some voices over the radio from earth to space. Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a medical-device scientist, and Clooney plays veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski. While Ryan works on a space on a space walk with Kowalski, fast moving debris from a Russian satellite breakup smashes into and destroys the shuttle.  This leaves Ryan and Matt stranded in orbit looking for a way to survive before their oxygen runs out.

The suspenseful movie, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, spectacularly creates a deadly vision of space where weightlessness constantly threatens to push the characters off into the void. Each movement by Ryan and Matt must be determined, and precise, and must be done before the debris field whips back around earth again.  Matt must rescue Ryan first, who immediately goes into a panic attack, with rapid breathing, which further depletes her oxygen.  As the only survivors of the debris field hit, they decide to make their way to the Russian space station.

After seeing Ryan so panicked after the disaster, it’s hard to believe she can undertake the incredibly difficult tasks ahead of her.  However, Ryan accomplishes much in this film, and it’s a tribute to Sandra Bullock’s acting that we end up believing she can overcome any obstacle.  Ryan Stone seems more real than most action heroes, even though her main focus is always on self survival. Getting back to earth becomes her main job in the movie, and the audience is continually thrilled by the difficulties in her path.

Besides the gripping story, the film is technically outstanding.  When the debris field flies out over the theater seats, I had the urge to duck away.  The space stations are messy, with pens and other objects floating around.  Nothing has to be shoved towards the camera because things float around in every direction anyway. Despite having only 2 characters, so much goes on that I’m thinking of going out and seeing it again in 3D.  I certainly needed to come back down to earth after this experience.

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