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Patricia Puentes

The 27 Most Anticipated Movies of 2022

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We can’t believe it’s already almost April either. But there’s still a lot of 2022 ahead of us and we thought about taking a renewed look at our selection of some of 2022’s most anticipated films, especially considering the calendar of releases has changed a lot in the last few weeks. 

Bear in mind that nothing is set in stone, so this isn’t a comprehensive selection. New titles will pop up as the new year unfolds. Plus, most of these titles are tentpole movies and/or sequels or adaptations from pre-existing franchises. Expect the year 2022 to be full of those, but also keep in mind that there’ll also be a fair share of must-see indie movies as the year progresses. It’s hard to know if 2022 will be the year that cinema-going returns to normal, or if we’ll all still be doing a lot of streaming at home for certain titles, while opting for the big screen for others. 

And yes, some of the titles on this list are movies that we were already looking forward to watching back in 2019 — ahem, Top Gun: Maverick .

Winter 2022: Movies That Have Already Premiered

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The 355 (January 7): This action-espionage ensemble stars Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent who joins forces with a German agent (Diane Kruger), a former MI6 ally who specializes in computers (Lupita Nyong’o) and a Colombian psychologist (Penélope Cruz) on a mission to recover a top-secret weapon. Bingbing Fan plays the mysterious woman who follows their every move. The 355 is now available on Peacock and on video on demand (VOD).

Scream (January 14): This is the fifth installment of the Scream franchise. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette return to their iconic roles alongside newcomers Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding and Jenna Ortega. Twenty-five years after the brutal murders that terrified the small town of Woodsboro, a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and targets a group of teenagers. Scream is now available on Paramount+ and VOD.

Moonfall (February 4): Master of disaster and climate change advocate Roland Emmerich co-writes and directs this film that sees the Moon on the brink of colliding with Earth and annihilating our world. Halle Berry plays a former astronaut who partners with another astronaut (Patrick Wilson) and a conspiracy theorist (John Bradley from Game of Thrones ). Together they’ll try to save humanity as they discover our Moon is not what we think it is.

Death on the Nile (February 11): This new adaptation of a classic Agatha Christie novel has Kenneth Branagh directing and playing the lead detective, Hercule Poirot — the Irish filmmaker already starred in and directed Murder on the Orient Express (2017). This one has been postponed several times due not only to the pandemic but also because a prominent role in the movie is played by Armie Hammer. The movie debuts on Hulu and HBO Max on March 29. 

Uncharted (February 18): Based on the eponymous action-adventure video game series , the movie stars Tom Holland ( Spider-Man: Homecoming ) as Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan. They both embark on an epic international adventure — Barcelona is prominently featured in the trailer — in the pursuit of “the greatest treasure never found.” Meanwhile, Nathan starts discovering new details about his long-lost brother.

The Batman (March 4): Robert Pattinson dons the cape and the pointy-eared mask in this new reboot of the bat franchise. Matt Reeves ( Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ) co-writes and directs the movie, which also stars Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Jeffrey Wright and John Turturro. Don’t miss our article on the hidden details in The Batman ’s first trailer and the movie’s inception and our full review of The Batman . 

Turning Red (March 11): Pixar’s first 2022 title is directed by Domee Shi, who won an Oscar for her short film Bao (2018). The movie follows the story of 13-year-old Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), who turns into a giant red panda every time she gets excited. Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s overbearing mom, Ming. Read our review of Turning Red here . 

Deep Water (March 18): Based on the novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith and starring Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck, this is one of the titles that has been postponed several times because of COVID-19. De Armas and Affleck play a married couple who have an arrangement to keep their marriage afloat. But when their games turn into murder, things get messier. Highsmith’s source material offers a portrayal of the fake veneer covering American suburbia — let’s hope the film does too.

The Lost City (March 25): Sandra Bullock returns to her comedy roots starring in this action-adventure where she plays Loretta Sage. She’s a popular romance-adventure writer on a promotional tour with Alan (Channing Tatum), the model who has always portrayed Loretta’s main character: the hero Dash. When Loretta is kidnapped by a billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) who wants to find an ancient lost city’s treasure from one of her novels, Alan decides to take the lead and rescue her as Dash would do. They end up in the middle of the jungle needing to work together to stay alive and find the ancient treasure before it’s lost forever.

Spring Movies 2022

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Morbius (April 1): Set in the same universe as Venom , Morbius stars the chameleonic Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius. He suffers from a rare blood disease and, while trying to find a cure for himself and others, he ends up transformed into someone with an urge for blood and other vampiric tendencies. Watching the method actor Leto transform himself into a mindless creature may prove to be one of the most appealing aspects of the film.

Ambulance (April 8): Michael Bay produces and directs this film starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ( Candyman ) as Will, a vet desperate to pay for his wife’s medical bills. His adoptive brother, Dany (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a professional criminal. When Will asks him for help, Dany enlists Will in a $32 million bank robbery. The two of them end up in an adrenaline-fueled chase through the streets of Los Angeles, inside of an ambulance driven by EMT Cam (Eiza González).

Downton Abbey: A New Era (May 20): First there were the six seasons of the television drama about a family of British aristocrats, their estate and the servants who allowed for everything to run smoothly. Then there was a 2019 movie too, and now it’s time for a film sequel: A New Era . Julian Fellowes, the creator of the show, returns once more here as the writer. And yes, the good news is that despite the dire health diagnosis the Dowager Countess revealed to her granddaughter Mary (Michelle Dockery) at the end of the previous movie, Maggie Smith returns to A New Era to hopefully dispense fresh doses of perfectly delivered puns. 

Top Gun: Maverick (May 27): The original Top Gun opened in 1986. Now, this sequel that’s been decades in the making follows Tom Cruise’s Maverick after he’s served more than 30 years as a pilot in the Navy. When he has to train a group of Top Gun graduates for an impossible mission, Maverick meets Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his long-lost friend Goose. Expect spectacular aerial sequences and a lot of need for speed.

Jurassic World: Dominion (June 10): Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return for this sixth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise and sequel to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). Franchise originals Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern also star in this movie. Lightyear (June 17): Who was the Space Ranger who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy from the Toy Story franchise? Chris Evans voices Buzz in this origin story that Pixar describes as a sci-fi action-adventure film.

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Elvis (June 24): Musical heavy-weight Baz Luhrmann ( Moulin Rouge ) directs and co-writes this biopic starring Austin Butler ( The Carrie Diaries ) as music legend Elvis Presley. The film also stars Tom Hanks as Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker. “The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America,” reads Warner Bros.’ official synopsis of the film.

Summer Movies 2022

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Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 1): Allow me the yellow indulgence since I’ve been a fan of these adorable polyglot creatures since I first saw Despicable Me in a movie theater back in 2010. This second prequel of the Minions origin story — and fifth installment of the Despicable Me franchise — is set in the 1970s and follows a 12-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his faithful army of yellow sidekick followers. 

Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8): This fourth Thor movie — the second one helmed by the New Zealander Taika Waititi — sees Natalie Portman returning as astrophysicist and Thor’s ex, Jane Foster. Waititi, who’s also taken writing duties for this film, has teased at its romantic components . The movie will also feature Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Christian Bale.

Nope (July 22): After Get Out and Us , here comes the next psychological horror film written and directed by Academy Award-winner Jordan Peele. Details are still very much under wraps for this movie, which stars Academy Award-winner Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Oscar nominee Steven Yeun . You can read more about Nope and its enigmatic first trailer here . 

Fall Movies 2022

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Don’t Worry Darling (September 23): Olivia Wilde’s second feature film after she directed the outstanding Booksmart (2019) stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as a married couple living in a utopian experimental community in the 1950s. Pugh plays a housewife and someone who fears that the company her husband works for may be hiding something. The movie also stars Wilde alongside Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Kiki Layne.

Spider-Man: Across Spider-Verse (Part One) (October 7): After the multiverse-set Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film and was lauded for its diverse representation — the movie stars Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) as an Afro-Latino kid who also happens to be Spider-Man — we really are looking forward to this Spider-Verse sequel. Not to mention, it’s one of several animated films we’re most excited about seeing this year. 

Black Adam (October 21): This eleventh installment in the DC Extended Universe is directed by the Catalan filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra and stars Dwayne Johnson as the titular villain. Pierce Brosnan and Aldis Hodge also appear in this Johnson-starring vehicle that could see him become Shazam’s archenemy. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11): Ryan Coogler returns as co-writer and director of the much-anticipated sequel to his Black Panther (2018), the first superhero film to be nominated for a coveted Best Picture nod at the Oscars. Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba and Angela Bassett reprise their roles from the original movie. The multi-talented Michaela Coel ( I May Destroy You ) will play a new role in this sequel. To honor the memory of the late Chadwick Boseman, who played Black Panther in the original film, Marvel has announced that this movie won’t recast the titular role . Also, Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever aren’t the only two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to be released in 2022. There’ll also be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6).

She Said (November 18): Maria Schrader ( Unorthodox ) directs this adaptation of Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s book in which they relate their New York Times investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse behavior. The exposé helped further the #MeToo movement. The film stars Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher.

Avatar 2 (December 16): Thirteen years after James Cameron introduced us to Pandora in Avatar , here comes the second installment of this story. Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver all return to Avatar 2 , alongside newcomers Kate Winslet, Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh. The franchise is expected to have five installments in total, with each new movie being released two years apart.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (December 21): Naomi Ackie ( Small Axe ) plays the late singer Whitney Houston in this musical biopic that’s directed by Kasie Lemons ( Harriet ) and also stars Clarke Peters, Stanley Tucci and Nafessa Williams.


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2013, Drama/Sci-fi, 1h 31m

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Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning. Read critic reviews

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Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity," about astronauts coping with disaster, is a huge and technically dazzling film. Watching Sandra Bullock and George Clooney's spacefarers go about their business, you may feel—for the first time since " The Right Stuff ," perhaps—that a Hollywood blockbuster grasps the essence of  a job that many can't imagine without feeling dizzy. The panoramas of astronauts tumbling against starfields and floating through space stations are both informative and lovely. 

But the most surprising and impressive thing about "Gravity" isn't its scale, its suspense, or its sense of wonder; it's that, in its heart, it is not primarily a film about astronauts, or space, or even a specific catastrophe. At times it plays like a high-tech version of shipwreck or wilderness survival story that happens to take place among the stars, and that would fit nicely on a double-bill alongside " Deliverance ," " 127 Hours ," " Cast Away ," " Rescue Dawn " or the upcoming " All Is Lost ." For all its stunning exteriors, it's really concerned with emotional interiors, and it goes about exploring them with simplicity and directness, letting the actors's faces and voices carry the burden of meaning.  It's a film about what happens to the psyche as well as the body in the aftermath of catastrophe.  

Not content to observe the agonizing physical details of the astronauts' struggles, "Gravity" goes deep into the feelings  of one character, Bullock's Dr. Ryan Stone, a first-time space traveller who boards a shuttle alongside Clooney's Matt Kowalski to repair the Hubble telescope. When debris destroys the telescope and their ride home, Ryan finds herself marooned in orbit alongside Kowalski, taking an unasked-for crash course in disaster management, learning all she can from her more experienced partner, struggling to control the anxious heartbeat that flutters on the soundtrack along with her shallow breathing and the sporadic hiss of backpack thruster jets. 

"Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission," Kowalski tells mission control (voiced, in one of Cuarón's only film-buffish in-jokes, by Ed Harris , a veteran of both "The Right Stuff" and " Apollo 13 "). We hear Kowalski speak this line for the first of many times during the majestic opening shot. We see space, and Earth—and beyond it, a tiny speck that slowly draws close, revealing the mission, the vehicles, the characters. 

In the hands of lesser storytellers, this shot and other, equally striking ones might play like showboating. (The filmmaker and his regular cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki , shot numerous films with spectacular long takes, including " Children of Men .") Luckily, Cuarón, who cowrote the script with his eldest son Jonás, roots every moment in a tactile present. The fragility of the body has rarely been spotlit so harshly, throughout the entire running time of a feature. Every time the astronauts move, or don't move, you worry they're going to end up like their colleagues: bodies frozen hard as bricks, faces caved in like pumpkins.

Ryan is our stand-in. The movie makes this notion plain by shifting between points-of-view within unbroken long takes. A lot of the time we're in what you might call third person limited, watching Ryan and Kowalski move through their treacherous environment and taking note of objects drifting with them, some menacing, others oddly poignant: a chess piece, a ballpoint pen, a Marvin the Martian doll, a puff of electrical flame, a lone teardrop. But then, gradually, subtly, "Gravity" will morph into first person, drifting towards Ryan and then seeming to pass through her helmet, edging closer to her face, then finally pivoting so that we're gazing out through her visor, hearing her voice and breath echo inside her suit as she looks for a space station, for Kowalski; for someone, something, anything to grab onto.

Some have already complained that "Gravity" is too melodramatic, too simplistic, too mystical, too something; that once we figure out that it's about the psychology of Ryan, we may write it off as less imaginative than we hoped.  I don't believe such shortcomings—if indeed they are shortcomings—can dent this film's awesomeness. If "Gravity" were half as good as I think it is, I'd still consider it one of the great moviegoing experiences of my life, thanks to the precision and beauty of its filmmaking. 

But even if we grant that the movie doesn't have the philosophical ambition of "2001", the space adventure to which it's most often compared, fairness demands we recognize that it's trying for something else. "Gravity" is reminiscent of "2001" mainly because it feels like a feature-length expansion of the sequence in which astronaut Dave Bowman gets locked out of the Jupiter spacecraft without his helmet. Beyond that, it's its own thing, and its storytelling is as simple as its visuals are complex. A surprising number of scenes are theatrically spare: just people talking to each other, telling stories, painting mental pictures for us. 

For long stretches, Cuarón trusts Bullock to give us a one-woman show, and she delivers. Her work here constitutes one of the greatest physical performances I've seen, and she's framed in ways that make each moment resonate. The way she twists and turns and swims through zero gravity is a master class in how to suggest interior states with gestures. An image of Ryan curled up womblike in zero gravity packs a primordial wallop: it's a dream image dredged from the Jungian muck. Some of the shots of Bullock's face through her helmet visor evoke Carl Dreyer's " The Passion of Joan of Arc ," the film that perfected the emotionally expressive closeup. "Gravity" evokes that silent classic and others—including Maya Deren's experimental short "Meshes of the Afternoon," whose most analyzed sequence, a series of shots boiling evolution down to four gestures, might have influenced the unabashedly metaphorical closing scene of  Cuarón's movie.

If anyone asks me what "Gravity" is about, I'll tell them it's a tense adventure about a space mission gone wrong, but once they've seen and absorbed the movie, they'll know the truth. The root word of "Gravity" is "grave." That's an adjective meaning weighty or glum or substantial, but it's also a noun: the place where we'll all end up eventually. The film is about that moment when you suffered misfortune that seemed unendurable and believed all hope was lost and that you might as well curl up and die, and then you didn't. Why did you decide to keep going? It's is a mystery as great as any in physics or astronomy, and one we've all grappled with, and transcended.

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of RogerEbert.com, TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

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Gravity (2013)

Rated PG-13

Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone

George Clooney as Matt Kowalski

Basher Savage as Space Station Captain (voice)


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Sandra Bullock strips down in Gravity

Gravity: my most overrated film

Forget the five-star reviews and out-of-this-world technical wizardry – Alfonso Cuarón’s epic space odyssey is the cinematic equivalent of a drum solo

More most overrated films: Peter Bradshaw on Billy Liar Read Peter Bradshaw’s five-star review of Gravity

When Gravity came out last year, I was pretty excited. All of our critics had liked it . In fact, most critics had liked it ( it still has 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 96 on Metacritic ). Many of my friends had raved about it, and space is pretty cool, so I went. And it was terrible.

The plot can be boiled down to one sentence: “Unhappy woman has bad time in space but survives against the odds.” Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan Stone, floats from one mishap to another, always escaping disaster at the last possible moment.

In order to provide breathing space between the disaster set pieces, Stone is provided with a saccharine, implausible backstory full of sledgehammer symbolism. Her daughter fell over, hit her head and died – because of gravity (wait, that’s the name of the film? No way!). So she goes into space, presumably to defy gravity. With no training as an astronaut, she manages to get a job as a “mission specialist” on a space station – and things soon go horribly wrong.

Many reviewers and commentators have praised it as a rare example of a strong female lead character in a Hollywood movie. But they must have been watching a different film, because Gravity embraces all sorts of gender stereotypes. Often clueless, Stone is the very model of the damsel in distress. She is repeatedly rescued, but always by men or by chance – she never escape catastrophe thanks to her own ingenuity. Plus, there are more unnecessary lingering shots of Bullock in her underwear than you’d find of models in a Pirelli calendar.

Gravity is not designed as a comedy, but at times it is difficult not to laugh. The most notable of these is the utterly ludicrous deus ex machina scene in which Stone’s dead colleague, played by George Clooney , appears in a hallucination and conveniently tells her exactly which buttons to press to escape, reminds her that life is worth living, and then disappears.

Even 1990s Steven Spielberg would be embarrassed by the level of sentimentality, and Steven Price’s this-is-where-you-cry score certainly doesn’t help in this regard.

“Nobody ever taught me how to pray,” Stone tells us at one point. She also beseeches Clooney’s ghost to say hello to her dead daughter: “You tell her that I love her, Matt. You tell her that I love her so much. Can you do that for me?” After years of production and untold millions of dollars spent on special effects, couldn’t Alfonso Cuarón have given someone a few quid to spend half an hour casting their eyes over the script and removing a few of the cliches?

However technically impressive it might be, 3D technology is no substitute for a good story. Having a metal bolt appear to fall towards me is just showing off (not to mention inexplicable to those watching in 2D). If I want to be wowed just by 3D effects, I’ll go to a theme-park simulator game and watch monsters jump out at me and clowns fall off ladders. And if I want clumsy homages to 2001: A Space Odyssey, I’ll head to a sixth-form college short-film night.

Still, a lot of these problems could be forgiven if Gravity didn’t commit the worst sin of all: being intensely boring. I’m not remotely invested in what happens to any of the astronauts. The most likable character is the Inuit fisherman, Aningaaq , who Stone contacts by radio. In fact, Gravity co-writer Jonás Cuarón’s short film about Aningaaq has more depth in seven minutes than the feature film manages in a tedious 90 minutes. The film finally became interesting in the final scene. I’d much rather watch a movie about what happens to Ryan Stone after – spoiler alert! – she returns to Earth.

Escape against the odds is an appealing story, but only when it contains nuance, surprise and ambiguity. For example, JC Chandor’s film All Is Lost , released a month after Gravity, is essentially the same plot, but set on the sea. It deals with the same issues of solitude and the value of life in a far more interesting way because Chandor doesn’t spoon-feed emotion to his audience the way Cuarón does.

I couldn’t care less about scientific inaccuracies , and I don’t begrudge Gravity its many awards. The technical wizardry is brilliant, and it’s great that the sound-mixing team have been recognised. Good job! It’s not your fault the film’s so dull. But Gravity is the cinematic equivalent of a drum solo. Technical prowess is nice, but it isn’t what counts when it comes to entertainment. Great films live or die on the strength of their stories, and Gravity barely even has one.

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By Peter Travers

Peter Travers

Sandra Bullock, in the performance of a lifetime, spends most of this wondrous wallop of a movie lost in space, alone where no one can hear her scream. And because director Alfonso Cuarón, a master of pure cinema, puts us right up there with her in glorious 3D, you breathe like she does, feel like she does and panic like she does until, after 90 minutes of gulping, gasping suspense, you start seeing with blinders off. Like she does.

A great movie is hard to define. So let Gravity do it for you. With enthralling detail, it offers thrills, humor, dazzle, disaster, poetic vision and mythic reach. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey set the bar for philosophical exploration of an unknowable universe by gazing outward. With deceptive simplicity, Gravity looks inward at something closer at hand but just as profound: the intricacies of the human heart.

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Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a NASA engineer on her virgin voyage into space. Her mission is to help repair the Hubble telescope. This rookie looks ready to puke inside her helmet. Her guide is Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), a charm-boy astronaut who’s seen it all and has a joke for all he’s seen. Clooney takes a small role and runs with it, his Buzz Lightyear banter working to defuse tension. “You’re the genius up here,” he sasses. “I only drive the bus.” The buoyancy of these early scenes, cutting through the eerie silence of deep space, is in marked contrast to the horror that develops when a Russian satellite destructs and sends debris hurtling toward the shuttle. That leaves Bullock and Clooney to defy gravity and death nearly 400 miles above the looming Earth.

Don’t let anyone spoil what happens next. Just know that Cuarón, the gifted cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and visual-effects wizard Tim Webber are trailblazers whose imaginations accept no limits. The script, by Cuarón and his son Jonás, occasionally drifts into dangerous emo territory, but the film’s images speak with heart-rending eloquence. Cuarón’s artistry is evident in films as diverse as Y Tu Mamá También , Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the third and best of the Potter series) and the indisputably brilliant Children of Men . The Mexican-born Cuarón is a true visionary. In tandem with the Bullock tour de force – she blends ferocity and feeling into a triumphant, award-caliber portrait of grace under pressure – he turns Gravity into a thing of transcendent beauty and terror. It’s more than a movie. It’s some kind of miracle.

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By A.O. Scott

“Life in space is impossible.” That stark statement of scientific fact is one of the first things to appear on screen in “Gravity,” but before long, it is contradicted, or at least complicated. As our eyes (from behind 3-D glasses) adjust to the vast darkness, illuminated by streaks of sunlight refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere, we detect movement that is recognizably human and hear familiar voices. Those tiny figures bouncing around on that floating contraption — it looks like a mobile suspended from a child’s bedroom ceiling — are people. Scientists. Astronauts. Movie stars. (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in spacesuits, as Mission Specialist Ryan Stone and Mission Commander Matt Kowalski; Ed Harris, unseen and unnamed, as “Houston” down below).

The defiance of impossibility is this movie’s theme and its reason for being. But the main challenge facing the director, Alfonso Cuarón (who wrote the script with his son Jonás), is not visualizing the unimaginable so much as overcoming the audience’s assumption that we’ve seen it all before. After more than 50 years, space travel has lost some of its luster, and movies are partly to blame for our jadedness. It has been a long time since a filmmaker conjured the awe of “2001: A Space Odyssey” or the terror of “Alien” or captured afresh the spooky wonder of a trip outside our native atmosphere.

Mr. Cuarón succeeds by tethering almost unfathomably complex techniques — both digital and analog — to a simple narrative. “Gravity” is less a science-fiction spectacle than a Jack London tale in orbit. The usual genre baggage has been jettisoned: there are no predatory extraterrestrials, no pompous flights of allegory, no extravagant pseudo-epic gestures. Instead, there is a swift and buoyant story of the struggle for survival in terrible, rapidly changing circumstances. Cosmic questions about our place in the universe are not so much avoided as subordinated to more pressing practical concerns. How do you outrun a storm of debris? Launch a landing module without fuel? Decipher an instruction manual in Russian or Chinese?

Sandra Bullock, top, in "Gravity."

It has recently been observed that not all of the film’s answers to these questions are strictly accurate. The course that Stone and Kowalski plot from the Hubble Space Telescope to the International Space Station would apparently not be feasible in real life. (On the other hand, I was relieved to learn that a fire extinguisher really can serve as a makeshift zero-G jetpack. Not a spoiler, just a word to the wise.) Surely, though, the standard for a movie like this one is not realism but coherence. Every true outlaw has a code. The laws of physics are no exception, and Mr. Cuarón violates them with ingenious and exuberant rigor.

The accidental explosion of a communications satellite silences Houston and, what’s worse, sends a blizzard of shrapnel hurtling toward the astronauts. Quite a bit goes wrong. Straps connecting astronauts to the relative security of their spacecraft are severed. Parachute lines foul engines. Fires break out inside vessels, and stuff outside is smashed to pieces. Not everyone survives. All of it — terrifyingly and marvelously — evades summary and confounds expectations. You have to see it to believe it.

And what you see (through the exquisitely observant lenses of the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki ) defies easy description. Stone and Kowalski’s orbital path is perched between the inky infinite and the green, cloud-swept face of home. The perspective is dazzling and jarring, and Mr. Cuarón allows a few moments of quiet, contemplative beauty to punctuate the busy, desperate activity of staying alive. Kowalski, generally an irreverent joker, pauses to savor the sun over the Ganges, and you may find yourself picking out other geographical details. Look, there’s Italy, and the Nile Valley. These reference points are as unsettling as they are reassuring, because they are glimpsed from a vantage point that is newly and profoundly alien.

That sense of estrangement owes a lot to Mr. Cuarón’s use of 3-D, which surpasses even what James Cameron accomplished in the flight sequences of “Avatar.” More than that film (and more than “Hugo” or “How to Train Your Dragon” or any other high-quality recent specimens), “Gravity” treats 3-D as essential to the information it wants to share. The reason for that is summed up in the title, which names an obvious missing element. Nothing in the movie — not hand tools or chess pieces, human bodies or cruise-ship-size space stations — rests within a stable vertical or horizontal plane. Neither does the movie itself, which in a little more than 90 minutes rewrites the rules of cinema as we have known them.

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But maybe not quite all of them, come to think of it. The script is, at times, weighed down by some heavy screenwriting clichés. Some are minor, like the fuel gauge that reads full until the glass is tapped, causing the arrow to drop. More cringe-inducing is the tragic back story stapled to Stone, a doctor on her first trip into orbit. We would care about her even without the haunting memory of a dead child, who inspires a maudlin monologue and a flight of orchestral bathos in Steven Price’s otherwise canny and haunting score.

I will confess that the first time I saw “Gravity,” I found its talkiness annoying. Not just Ms. Bullock’s perky-anxious soliloquizing, but also Mr. Clooney’s gruff, regular-guy wisecracking. Doesn’t Stone say her favorite thing about space is the silence?

But a second viewing changed my mind a bit. It’s not that the dialogue improved — it will not be anyone’s favorite part of the movie — but rather that its relation to that silence became clearer. Stone and Kowalski jabber on, to themselves and each other and to Houston “in the blind,” partly to keep the terror of their situation at bay, to fight the overwhelming sense of how tiny and insignificant they are in the cosmos.

This assertion of identity is ridiculous and also, for that very reason, affecting. For all of Mr. Cuarón’s formal wizardry and pictorial grandeur, he is a humanist at heart. Much as “Gravity” revels in the giddy, scary thrill of weightlessness, it is, finally, about the longing to be pulled back down onto the crowded, watery sphere where life is tedious, complicated, sad and possible.

“Gravity” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Existential terror and the salty language it provokes.

Spirituality & Practice

Network for Good

Film Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

"As long as you live, keep learning how to live." — Latin Proverb

Gravity is a riveting tale of survival set in the terrifying wilderness of outer space where human beings do not clash with nefarious extraterrestrial forces or try to plant the American flag on another planet. Instead they spend their time on routine research and scientific missions. When disaster looms on the horizon it is the fault of human error: in this case speeding debris from their own satellite shot down by the Russians that has caused a chain reaction of other destroyed satellites in the same orbit. When their spacecraft is hit, two American astronauts must find a working shuttle that will take them back home to Earth. It is a battle against time and depleting fuel and oxygen levels.

"Time spent laughing is time spent with the gods." — Japanese Proverb

Gravity is also about the spiritual journey of Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first mission. In the opening scene, she is outside the shuttle trying to repair the Hubble telescope. Accompanying her are Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran astronaut on his final mission, who is entertaining his comrades in Mission Control in Houston, Texas, with whimsical stories. He is playfully seeking to break the official record for the longest spacewalk.

"The unexpected always happens." — Latin Proverb

The light-hearted mood is broken when Kowalski and Stone learn that a deadly storm of debris is heading their way. As they scramble for safety and the shuttle is destroyed, the rookie is sent spinning into space. We are caught up in her scary free fall and hear her heavy breathing as she tumbles in absolute aloneness. Kowalski comes to her rescue but not before Stone is shaken to the core. Whereas he comments frequently on the astonishing beauty of Earth and the images of outer space passing before his eyes, she sees little more than an indifferent universe at work bringing death and destruction to all.

"Wherever I go, I meet myself." — Tozan

Writer and director Alfonso Cuaron ( Children of Men ) has created a visual masterwork with his 3-D depiction of the tense drama of these two astronauts desperately trying to survive in outer space after losing their spacecraft and discovering the rest of the crew are dead. In the midst of this battle to stay alive, Stone begins her own spiritual journey. We learn that following the accidental death of her four-year-old daughter, she has plunged into a deep depression and grief manifested in her isolation from others.

"You can fall down by yourself but you need a friend's hand to get up." — Yiddish Proverb

Unprepared for the deluge of life-and-death decisions she must make, Stone is worn out and ready to give up. At one point, she admits she'd pray if someone had taught her how to do it. Another time, tuning in to a transmission from Earth and hearing some dogs in the background, she practices barking. She also listens with fondness to a lullaby being sung. But it is through an encounter that goes beyond her capacity to explain that she is turned around and set on the course to get home.

"God gave burdens, also shoulders." — Yiddish Proverb

It is a delight to watch the newly emboldened Stone improvise her way out of one disaster after another. With new pose and self-confidence, she demonstrates the spiritual practice of resilience. This is, writes Joseph Marshall III, "a quiet, persistent process. While hardship, difficulties, and disaster might befall us in a blinding moment, resiliency responds subtly. It does not bring results in one fell swoop, but moment by moment and one step at a time."

"If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is 'thank you,' that would suffice." — Meister Eckhart

There are many images in Gravity that remind us that we are on a spiritual journey — from one of birth, through tribulation by fire, encounters with mysteries, and rebirth in water. But the clearest signposts to the spiritual life, as Rabbi Terry Bookman has written, are two words: "Thank you." They are a fitting response to this film as well. As the credits start to roll at the end of the film, place your hand on your heart. Feel it beat. With each heartbeat, imagine compassion being sent out into the universe, to all people, to all beings — especially those using every fiber of their being and every ounce of their energy to survive.

Over 3 hours of special features on the Blu-Ray/DVD: Experience the meticulous innovation necessary to create the world of Zero-G. Witness the physical and emotional demands Sandra Bullock endured on set.; Journey with Alfonso Curarón through four years of filmmaking to the farthest boundaries of cinema.

Warner Home Video, 10/13

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NASA Astronaut Looks Back at ‘Gravity’: It’s Harmful for Girls Who Want to Go to Space

While reviewing recent space films like "interstellar" and "ad astra," nasa astronaut chris hadfield ripped into alfonso cuaron's oscar winner..

review movie gravity

Mar 26, 2020 11:10 am



Warner Bros.

NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield has been to space three times, has participated in two space walks, and has served as the commander of the International Space Station. Hadfield joined Vanity Fair this week to review space films such as Christopher Nolan’s “ Interstellar ,” James Gray’s “Ad Astra,” and Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but no movie is the object of the astronaut’s scorn as much as Alfonso Cuarón’s “ Gravity .” Hadfield admits Cuarón’s 2013 Oscar winner boasts great visual effects and a magnificent depiction of a space walk in its opening scene, but that’s about it when it comes to praise. Much of “Gravity” is “so far from reality that I want to turn my head,” Hadfield says in the video below.

Hadfield’s first major criticism is how extremely “Gravity” violates the laws of physics. Take the scene where a satellite crashes into the International Space Station. “The satellite goes whizzing by at about maybe 120 miles per hour,” the astronaut says. “The real satellites are going 5 miles a second, 17-and-a-half thousand miles an hour. How that satellite in the film is going by where you can identify what it is [makes no sense].”

An even more egregious physics error occurs when Sandra Bullock’s character detaches herself from a mechanical arm that has broken off the space station. “When she releases her little strap, she flies away in a whole new direction as if there was some force on Sandra that wasn’t on the arm,” Hadfield says. “How come she has a different gravity than the arm does?”

Hadfield can look past scientific errors for the sake of cinema, but what he can’t forgive “Gravity” for is depicting behavior that isn’t true to real astronauts. As he explains, “Everyone on the crew, the dialogue, they’re all yelling back to Houston as if Houston is going to help them right here. George Clooney is asking permission to go help Sandra Bullock. It’s not astronaut behavior. It’s not logical behavior. It’s so execrable from actual, practical realities of space flight.”

The movie’s depiction of Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, is unforgivable. Hadfield says, “The most experienced astronaut in American history is a woman, it’s Peggy Whitson. In this movie, Sandra Bullock has only been an astronaut for less than a year. When she’s faced with a problem, she’s panicking and has no idea what to do. George Clooney is driving around like some sort of space cowboy and he’s the only one who has any idea what’s going on. I think it set back a little girl’s vision of what a woman astronaut can be an entire generation.”

Hadfield continues, “Sandra Bullock did a great job of portraying the character in the movie but the character that they wrote for her was disappointing. That’s what I would’ve changed. Get it to represent what astronauts are really like and then build the story around that. Don’t just make it the perils of [this woman] and she needs George Clooney to magically save the day and tell her what book to open to do the right thing.”

Watch Hadfield’s full Vanity Fair interview on space movies in the video below.

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This Article is related to: Film and tagged Gravity , Interstellar , NASA


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Intense, astonishing sci-fi thriller has real soul.

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gravity (which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and was directed by Children of Men 's Alfonso Cuaron ) isn't your run-of-the-mill sci-fi thriller: It's a spare, elegant film that speaks to the mysteries of human emotion and space, as well as a stunning piece of moviemaking with depth and insight that make it an intense viewing experience (which is heightened, for the better, by the 3D presentation). Its mature themes -- including death and grief -- and scenes of gripping peril make it best for teens and adults. Younger kids may be frightened by some sequences, including one that's notably gory/gruesome. There's also some swearing (including both "f--k" and "s--t").

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Realistic space adventure, what's the story.

In GRAVITY, Dr. Ryan Stone ( Sandra Bullock ) is a medical engineer on her first trip to outer space. But during the final spacewalk on the day before she and the rest of the crew are set to return to Earth, the Russians shoot down one of their own satellites; the explosion causes a catastrophic debris shower that threatens to wipe out all orbiting space stations, including Stone's shuttle. With seasoned astronaut Lieut. Matt Kowalsky ( George Clooney ) by her side, Stone struggles to survive -- not just the accident that threatens her and everyone else's lives, but her own personal demons as well.

Is It Any Good?

Oh to be astonished, frightened, and entertained all at the same time -- that's the power of Alfonso Cuaron 's masterful film. A mindful and meticulous meditation on mortality, tragedy, and the human spirit, Gravity is driven by both stunning cinematography and Bullock's artful, complex performance. Add to this a soundtrack so well-calibrated that the music enhances rather than overpowers (as too many soundtracks are wont to do).

It's obvious that an enormous amount of discipline went into filming Gravity -- but, far from making the movie sterile, the precision only serves to heighten the impact of an already stunning story. There's no reason, at least on this planet, that it won't be appreciated as a monumental piece of moviemaking. This is what 3-D effects were made for -- not the bullying bombast and empty trickery that plagues other, lesser 3-D films, but to artfully enhance a movie with grand imagination, riveting narrative, and true soul.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how Gravity is similar to, and different from, other movies about space. Is it a sci-fi movie, a thriller, a drama, or a combination of all three?

How do you explain the bevy of emotions that Dr. Stone experiences throughout the movie? Do you understand why she reacts this way?

Which is more memorable/impressive -- the film's technical achievements or its character drama? Why?

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Plot Summary

review movie gravity

Film Review

Usually when a film makes a significant splash at the box office, collecting copious amounts of hype along the way, mixed reception from those who subscribe to the hype is inevitable. 2009's Avatar is a good example of a film that fits such a description; it brought people back to the theater over and over, but polarized its audiences in the process. And soon it became yet another film that people love to criticize even though they once thought it had been the best film they'd seen in years (if not ever). The latest film to attract significant attention (but not quite luring the staggering droves as the aforementioned blockbuster) is the space epic Gravity , a film which uses special effects in extreme amounts to drive a film that tackles loneliness and death head-on in a fresh and intense way.

review movie gravity

Cuarón is probably the perfect man for the job when directing a film like this one. Most of the opening of the film is one fluid shot without a single sign of there being a cut in the film. Because of this, we see the camera move around the action as if there were truly a cameraman documenting this space mission, and then Cuarón literally takes us inside the characters' space suits and we get to see things from a first-person view. It makes the movie mold around the viewer, forcing them into the action, and the 3D presentation helps create this feeling. However, because of the seamless cuts that he utilizes throughout the film, Cuarón doesn't mind spinning the camera and disorienting the viewer to give an accurately unnerving experience to the viewer and help recreate in them the terror that the characters are experiencing. If you're prone to motion sickness or dizziness, just be warned that Cuarón's cinematography is certainly dizzying and not for the squeamish.

The biggest problem Gravity has is in the increasing need for the audience to suspend its disbelief. It's obvious that Cuarón is aiming for realism from the film's start; there are no aliens or supernatural forces at work here. Gravity is more about the examination of human character, our will to live, our response to death (our own and others') and even our spirituality to a small degree. But as the film moves forward, Cuarón continues to push the limits of believability as things worsen and some characters seem to have the worst possible "luck" one could have (or, let's face it, just a really, really bad day). But when things happen at just the last possible moment for the second or third time, it's tough to overlook it. It's one thing to shoot for realism and then toss it out the window, and another to just aim for fantasy from the start and stick to it. Gravity isn't Star Trek or Star Wars ; Cuarón paints the picture that this could be happening right now in our atmosphere, or merely in the not-so-distant future. And the finale may be a bit too much for a movie that seemed to pride itself on a less-is-more approach. When the final moments unfold before our very eyes, one has to wonder if we're about to watch an entirely different kind of sci-fi adventure film being set up than what the previous hour and a half had been leading up to (perhaps something from Franklin J. Schaffner?). And don't get me started on a passing quip about Facebook that felt like a thinly veiled attempt at product placement in a film will little to no space to place products.

review movie gravity

The content for Gravity is a solid PG-13. The intensity of the subject matter is worthy of the rating alone, but there's some graphic content that creeps into one sequence. After the initial satellite debris impact that disables the team's shuttle, we see a man who's been hit by flying debris whose faceplate has shattered. As such, we see that there's a hole right through most of their frozen face. It's quite graphic and we can see all the way through their head and out the back of it. We also see some blood frozen around the wound and some inside gore within the wound. The camera lingers on this view a little longer than it needs to, too. We also see two non-gory views of people's faces who have frozen to death in the vacuum of space. Otherwise, there's some profanity sprinkled throughout the film, mostly from Bullock who uses the "F" word pretty early on, with additional uses of the "S" word, "h*ll" and several others throughout the movie. (It really wasn't necessary, but at least it had been curbed to secure a PG-13 rather than an R rating.)

Overall, Gravity is a visual cinematic achievement and an experience like few others. However, you probably shouldn't buy into all the hype too quickly because the film is far from perfect. Still, Alfonso Cuarón has definitely created something that will give audiences food for thought for some time. Riveting, engaging, and visually stunning, Gravity isn't for everyone, but it's at least worth a viewing on the big screen.

Seeing the movie a second (and third time), I definitely liked it more than the first viewing. The hype was way too high, but Gravity remains an entertaining and visually breathtaking film. Also, the sheer terror of being lost in space the way it's portrayed here really adds a thrilling and scary tension to the story.

There are no extras on the 3D Blu-Ray disc, but the 2D Blu-Ray disc has roughly 3 hours of extra content. And most of it is quite interesting and worth watching. In the behind-the-scenes content, they go in-depth on how the story was conceived and it all came together.

review movie gravity

Gravity : Mission Control (1:46:36) - This is the honeypot of the bonus content. "Mission Control" is broken down into 9 separate segments, but there's a Play All option to watch them all together -- and it clocks in at longer than Gravity itself:

"It Began with a Story" - The writer and director talk about the birth of the story and its intent, the characters and their development. Here, they also cover some of the deliberate symbolism seen in the film and how they compare Stone's character development to rebirth and literal evolution.

"Initial Challenges: Long Shots and Zero G" - Here, we find out the film took about 4 and a half years from the conceptualization of it to its completion. They talk about the long cuts in the film and how they accomplished the closeups. They tried to use actual zero gravity to do the space shots, trying out the "vomit comet," but realized it was impossible. It's when they decided to use animation to pull it all off that the film really came together. Most of what you see in Gravity is completely animated.

Previsualizing Gravity - It took 10 months to previsualize the film, and they decided to use those animated previs sequences to be the basis for the animated finished film. They needed to create brand new rigs that had never been used before to properly levitate and light the actors. So they literally built an LED light box around Sandra Bullock.

The Hues of Space - Here they talk about plotting out where over the Earth the characters would be and how to color it on film. We also see more behind-the-scenes shooting in the LED box.

Physical Weightlessness - It took 6 or so different rigs to create Sandra's weightlessness. And we also learn how she had to prepare for it. They also ended up puppeteering her like a marionette!

Space Tech - They aimed to use current space technology instead of making it look sci-fi or futuristic. They also explain how almost all of the props seen in the movie were completely digital but based on real items. We do find out here, though, that some of the interior sets were real.

Sandra and George: A Pair in Space - Sandra talks about utilizing her background in dance to prepare for the physical stunts. And we hear her talking about her literal isolation and being all alone a lot while filming. We also see some great on-set footage of Sandra and George together (and goofing around).

Final Animation - Here, they talk about rendering the film, and how there was something like 500 terabytes of data, which would fill up about 25,000 iPods. At one point, they said how the look of the movie could be viewed right side up or upside down and when someone showed that to the director, he asked them to flop a short shot for the finished film. This ended up taking 3 additional months to complete because they had to create the imagery that was missing from the shot when it was rotated!

Complete Silence - In the final video, they talk about the sound of the movie being represented from the perspective of the characters, since there's no sound in space. Composer Steven Price shares his musical brilliance and talks about how he approached scoring the film, the way it moves through the speakers and multiple melodies are used to represent the action and fill in for the silence. It's amazing! He goes through its textures and the evolution of the music and melodies through the course of the movie.

Shot Breakdowns (36:48) - The next big section of behind-the-scenes featurettes totals almost forty minutes, and they show you how certain key scenes were created:

Behind the Visor - While the actors wore the space suits, they never had a visor over their face; it was always digital! So they talked about how that was achieved and how the breathing of the actors was used to provide tension in the film.

Fire in the International Space Station - Here we see how they filmed it while Sandy was on a rig and they talk about the physics of fire in zero gravity.

Dr. Stone's Rebirth - The imagery of Sandra in the "womb" of the airlock was an idea the filmmakers had from the beginning, so they discovered quite a few challenges when they went to actually make it a reality. Here we get to see how Sandra was mounted on a special rig to make it work.

The Sound of Action in Space - This is more about Price's musical score and he deconstructs it piece by piece to show you how it moves with the action in the movie.

Splashdown - This talks about the evolution symbolism in the finale, which is rather over the top and nearly ruined the film for me, personally. The last minute or so of the movie feels so tacked-on and goofy that it just feels like it's not even part of the right movie. They stress how much they were aiming for realism and then they give it this overly dramatic and strange finish.

Documentary: Collision point: The Race to Clean Up Space - Narrated by Ed Harris (22:28) - This is a documentary about space junk in space being a problem in cluttering up the space around Earth. When you start the documentary, it has the tone of being informational in a way that's meant to bring awareness to a serious problem... and then it ends with an urging of the viewer to write letters to politicians to ask for something to be done about it. The whole thing is super silly and has no place on this Blu-Ray set, to be blunt. This is more of a problem for those involved in NASA and the people who created this isolated mess to deal with -- not the average movie viewer. I honestly never thought I'd ever see an environmental documentary urging people to join in the fight against debris in space and guilting movie viewers into helping.

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    Seeing the movie a second (and third time), I definitely liked it more than the first viewing. The hype was way too high, but Gravity remains an entertaining