Sprung from the same survivalist matrix as more than a handful of this year’s headliners, the film stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as two astronauts—an overly chatty vet and nervous neophyte, respectively—who find themselves reeling weightlessly through the infinite galaxy when they become untethered from their space station.
Impressively rendered in CGI, the interstellar landscape is indeed stunning—a boundless void that is as mesmerizing as it is terrifying. But after the opening shot (which comes in at about 13 minutes), the film doesn’t quite have the momentum to sustain itself. Losing sight of Clooney early on, much of the remaining time is spent following Bullock’s arduous, action-packed journey to safety. The experience is more akin to playing a video game than watching a movie as each brief respite is dramatically disrupted by further disaster—a tether snapping, a fire alighting, another tether snapping—and the pattern is tedious and predictable rather than exhilarating.
Though the film frequently showcases Bullock’s sculpted body with balletic grace, her performance is decidedly less toned than her rock-hard stems, offering little humanism and a lot of heavy breathing. It’s difficult to avoid comparison here with J.C. Chandor’s Robert Redford one-man show All Is Lost, which has been criticized by some for its extreme minimalism. But with practically zero words spoken during the nearly two-hour struggle to keep his punctured sailboat afloat, Redford manages to convey much more in silence than Gravity does in all of its contrived monologues put together."
Emma Myers, Film Comment
These are basically my exact thoughts.