If this movie proves anything, it’s this: there is absolutely no excuse for terrible CGI in film anymore. We’re past that. This extremely ambitious science-fiction action thriller from acclaimed director Alfonso Cuaron grossed over 7 times its $100 million budget after it debuted in America on October 4th, 2013 and in the UK a month later. Co-written with his son Jonas and produced by Harry Potter showrunner David Heyman, the PG-13-rated story follows a crew of astronauts whose space shuttle is destroyed at mid-orbit during a mission on their space shuttle Explorer. Miraculously in one piece, Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, finds herself stranded in space and now must find a way to safely return to the surface of Earth… or float out into the dark and cold void of outer space forever. I can’t talk much more about the plot because none of the trailers ever gave anything away, and- true story -I had never actually seen Gravity until a few hours ago. Hang me from the gallows for heresy, but now I know what I’ve been missing out on for the past four years. As pretty much the only two characters who ever show their faces, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney carry this movie on their shoulders- or more appropriately, launch it to great heights. Clooney more or less plays a caricatured, astronaut version of himself, always quipping to his crew members and sharing amusing stories about himself. He gave this film humor where it needed it, and also served as the true optimist when everything suddenly goes wrong. Bullock’s performance is the real standout, though, showing a strong versatile range of emotions. She is thrown into the worst situation imaginable but still has to find the will to get through it alive. A moment late in the movie when she prays to herself marks a pivotal turning point for her tragic character while also being very moving. It also earned her a nomination for Best Actress, marking this as the first time a sci-fi action film has been nominated in the category since Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. The film has also received a fair amount of criticism for a number of scientific inaccuracies, particularly when the Laws of Physics are broken. This is not necessarily a negative. In fact, it should be considered a high honor if a science-fiction film falls under scrutiny for the science portrayed. Implausible? Sometimes. But it’s still believably demonstrated and explained. While on the subject, in a technical sense, this is a flawless movie with no missteps whatsoever. Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanual Lubezki utilizes his trademark of long-tracking shots to great and innovative effect. The film opens with a single, fluid 13-minute shot that establishes everything that is to come. In fact, there are huge passages taken from a single-camera shot, swinging around the stations and suits with ease. These huge takes are contrasted by claustrophobic point-of-view shots from inside Ryan Stone’s space suit, truly giving the impression that the audience is stuck in orbit with her. Meanwhile, Steven Price’s soundtrack is an astonishing, atmospheric score with pulsating electronic drums and illustrious strings. Lone shots of the Sun horizon are emulated by an ambient, almost esoteric noise. But it’s the vocal accompaniment from Katherine Ellis on the last two tracks that make such an inspirational award-winner. Speaking of vocals, further immersing audiences into its adventure is the intricate sound design. Since it took place in outers space, almost everything that happened was silent- a tactic which turned out to be very frightening for me. Much of the radio chatter between the astronauts and Houston Mission Control is babble over a channel of static, and- even more impressive -the film made your hear everything the characters were hearing. So whenever a screw was being put into a metal plate, it felt like her head was tilted to the side, causing only one ear to hear it all. The only real way to watch and appreciate this film at home is on a widescreen T.V. with the lights out and the sound turned way up. It’s just a rich experience. Even richer than that, as many have raved about nonstop, the visual effects in Gravity are simply stunning and beautiful. Having the majority of a movie focus almost entirely outside in space, and make it look realistic at the same time, was concept believed to be impossible just a decade ago. But Framestore utilized every ounce of its budget over the course of three meticulous years, deservedly earning it the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Unfolding seemingly over real-time, this movie serves as a benchmark for how far we’ve come in technology and the possibilities of where we might go from here. My only gripe is that I was never able to see this in IMAX 3-D, which many professed was one of the greatest cinematic experiences they had ever had. Though, honestly, I think I might have gotten sick if I did. Even so, I am perfectly content watching the relaxing image of Earth pass in the background as our heroes move from one disaster to the next. To put it in the words of Clooney, “Gotta admit one thing. You can’t beat the view.” He’s right, nothing can. Despite its inaccuracies regarding science and physics, Gravity is an intense and unbelievably captivating adventure with great thrills. Easily the most visually impressive film since 2009’s Avatar, and certainly of this decade so far, there is not a moment of this movie that ever lets up and it never gets boring. The mile-a-minute 90 minute-long picture is an astonishing visual masterpiece that left me breathless and amazed.