By DANNY BUTTLER
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney.
NOT since 2001: A Space Odyssey has there been such buzz around a science fiction film set in outer space.
Gravity has none of the existential angst of 2001, but it does have some dazzling effects and a real engagement with its characters.
Free-wheeling, floating camera work gives the audience a sense of weightlessness from the opening scenes.
This is no ride for those with vertigo.
Stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are NASA astronauts working on the Hubble space telescope, when a sudden space emergency puts lives in danger.
Mission specialist Bullock has to leave her comfort zone, both mentally and physically, in a fight for survival that pushes her beyond her limits.
She limps from air pocket to air pocket in space, like a drowning woman clutching at straws.
The other interesting thing is how much Bullock carries the thing herself, single-handedly filling the screen for most of it.
The action is almost exclusively confined to space – no flashbacks to a forgotten and longed-for Earth here.
There’s a sense for much of the film that you can reach out and touch the planet – but 600 kilometres up is a world away.
In this space, no-one can hear you scream – and the film is unlikely to do much for the astronaut recruitment program – but for viewers, it’s a deeply engaging ride.
– Jason Beck