Just out past the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, the Hubble Telescope is undergoing maintenance and upgrade. Brilliant medical engineer Doctor Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock) has invented a new component for use in medicine, which is now being tested on the Hubble, so she is working remote from the space shuttle to install and configure it. This is her first mission. She’s working alongside long-experienced Commander Matt Kowalsky (by George Clooney) and technical engineer Shariff (by Paul Sharma). Kowalsky is overseeing the operation while Stone works. He’s pretty relaxed out in space – in fact, he quite likes it out here – space walking is like floating (or even flying) and he’s aiming to break a colleague’s long-standing record of the longest space-walk before he retires at the end of this last mission. Suddenly, their routine installation is interrupted by the voice of Mission Control Houston (voiced by Ed Harris) who advises they must pack up immediately to avoid a risk nearby. From this point, things start to go very wrong … Stone and Kowalsky must use all their training and instinct to manage the situation and make sure they all get out alive … as this is no longer a routine mission …..
In a word, this movie is “gripping” – science fiction is not my genre of choice, so it’s saying something that I found this to be great. The performances of both Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are very good – particularly Sandra Bullock, whose character has the primary focus of the movie. She is totally involved in this from the outset – as is the audience – and I guess that the production of this movie would have been hard work for both her and George Clooney. As usual, for me the ending is too convenient and implausible, just to finish things off – but I am prepared to live with that given the excellence of the rest of it. The camerawork is exceptional (I saw this in 3D) and the sequencing of the space-walk scenes (I guess you could call it choreography) was great. It boggles my mind how the cinematographers achieved what they did here – the direction is amazing, with camerawork that takes you everywhere the astronauts go – it’s marvellous. The camera seems to float through space with the characters – the utter endlessness of black space envelops you as you watch and feel engulfed by it. It is a mistake to expect a sci fi movie brimming with space monsters or highly visible special effects of animation, but the director really does take you where he wants you to go – and he shows you what he wants you to see – it’s very well done.
Made in 2013. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron