When I’m at a movie I find a little too scary or intense for comfort, I write “it’s just a movie” in my notebook. It takes me out of it a little bit. Calms me down.
After “Gravity,” my notebook looks like the “All work and no play” pages in “The Shining.” This film is the most intense 90 minutes I have experienced in the theater in recent memory. And, yes, you should pay for the 3-D. And the Imax. If some theater is offering smell-o-vision, sign up for that, too.
See “Gravity” in the most tricked-out theater you can, because those bells and whistles are key to the audience experience. The story is fine — bad things happen to attractive people in space — and Space George Clooney is almost a sendup of Earth George Clooney, all confident and roguish and dreamy and … sorry, what was I saying?
Oh, the technology. Alfonso Cuaron uses the staggering depth of field that 3-D produces to show the vastness of our surroundings and just how small our home is. Add in the Imax, which will have you turning your head to take in all that’s on the edge of the frame — often nothing but space, receding into the distance — and you have the best blend of technology and story since 2011’s “Hugo.”
“Gravity” isn’t just a show-offy tech demo (hi, “Avatar!”); it uses space-age technology (get it?) to create a new experience for filmgoers. It wouldn’t be as suspenseful or as terrifying or, frankly, as good without the 3-D but that’s like saying Disney’s “Snow White” wouldn’t have been as good without the animation. Both films are integrally linked with their technology, so much so that to separate story from form would be unfair.
“Gravity” is more than a movie about traveling to the stars — it’s about bringing that experience, more realistically than ever, to people sitting in a different kind of dark.