‘Gravity’ is a thrilling and artful high-tech achievement

Sandra Bullock in ‘Gravity.’ Rated PG-13, 90 min. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2013.

You don’t just watch “Gravity” – you experience it. The concept is as simple as “Cast Away” in space, but the execution is jaw-dropping. With NASA astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) as the only survivors of a catastrophic debris strike that destroys their shuttle, and no time for a rescue, the two work desperately to save themselves.

Using his trademark long takes, director and co-writer Alfonso Cuarón makes you believe that the movie was somehow filmed in orbit. The digital effects are seamless, and even the 3D elements feel natural – if nauseating – in space.

Astrophysicists may have a problem with a few technical details, but for the rest of us, this is as realistic a vision of space travel as we’ve ever seen.

Clooney skates by on his sweet-talking charm, but Bullock’s stunning, physical and cerebral performance takes center stage. “Gravity” is full of pulse-pounding action, yet takes time for a thoughtful look at grief, life, death and our motivations for pursuing all three.

Not to discount the wonders of classics “2001” or “Apollo 13,” but “Gravity” may now become the film to which all other space-set movies are compared.

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