10/29/2013 02:23 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Popcorn Preview: Gravity

Film: Gravity (2013)
Cast includes: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Groege Clooney (The Descendants), Ed Harris (A History of Violence)
Writer/Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men)
Genre: Drama | Sci-fi | Thriller (91 minutes)

600 km from earth... there's no oxygen, no air pressure, no gravity and nothing to carry sound. "Houston. I have a bad feeling... I've been up here for 42 days. Every time I pass over Houston..." Matt Kowalski is getting ready to go into one of his stories. This time it's about his 67 Corvette. Matt's specialty is talking. The three astronauts are outside the space station enjoying a walk in space... except for Dr. Stone, who's trying to fix a system problem. "In zero gravity, it's harder than it looks, keeping lunch down." This is Ryan Stone's first space mission, and she's not here for the love of adventure. It's probably nothing, but Houston lets the astronauts know about debris from a missile strike on a Russian satellite... just a prototype, they say. "They don't bankroll prototypes," says Matt. As Ryan carefully examines each panel, Matt thinks she's far too serious. "You gotta admit... you can't beat the view."

Suddenly Houston is barking out orders... "Abort immediately. Abort." The debris is taking out other satellites, causing a chain reaction... and picking up more debris along the way. In the storm of debris, stuff is flying everywhere. "The Explorer has been hit. I've lost visual of Dr. Stone," says Matt. But there's no answer from Houston. Their communications seem to be down. Meanwhile Ryan is spinning. She can't get a fix on anything at first. "Houston, I have a visual. The space station is at 7:00. Houston, do you copy? Houston, do you copy. Anyone... please copy..." Ryan pleads. "Dr. Stone, do you copy?" It's Matt. She's relieved to hear his voice. "I'm fine, but my oxygen is going down fast." Matt finally catches up to her using his propulsion pack. He attaches a tether. "Where you go, I go... We're going back to the shuttle. Set your watch for 90 minutes." That's the amount of time they have before the debris will circle around again. Off in the distance is the shuttle.

If it were only that simple! Their initial plan has a hitch... not that we're surprised. The surprise is that there are any options at all. While it's certainly beautiful up in space... it's awfully lonely. By this time, we've seen what flying debris can do, and we're already gasping for air as we watch Ryan's oxygen levels decrease. Matt tries to calm her... get her to think of someone else. "Is there someone special down there? Someone thinking about you?" That might have been the wrong question, because Ryan did have someone special... her daughter, who died. It's hard to believe that Matt and Ryan haven't given up already, because the situation appears to be completely hopeless. But Matt is an optimist, and, as annoying as his constant chatter is, he does give Ryan just enough confidence to try yet another idea... and another. But you can push against impossible odds for just so long. It's an emotional journey... wonderfully acted, with amazing special effects. If you have a chance to see it in 3D, it's one of the best uses of 3D in quite a while. Eventually, Ryan exhausts her inner strength. Thinking about her daughter who died is actually a comfort. "We're all going to die," she says to her dead daughter. "But I'm going to die today." She's scared... and so are we.

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
A collision with satellite debris leaves two astronauts stranded in space

Popcorn Profile
Rated: PG-13
Audience: Young adults
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Computer effects
Primary Driver: Plot development
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment

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