I was prepared to be stressed out by Gravity: you've seen the trailers, so you know what I mean. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are in space, and then disaster strikes, and they get spun away from their craft. Owing to a recurring nightmare I've had since I was a child in which roughly the same thing happens to me (sans, sadly, Clooney), I was wary.
And it was stressful. I gasped. I bit my nails. I even felt a little seasick once in a while. But what I hadn't expected was this: watching Gravity, especially in the quiet moments, I felt an overwhelming sense of . . . wonder.
Sitting there, wearing silly-looking 3D glasses, I felt awe—and not at mankind or its "indomitable spirit." It is admittedly cool that we figured out how to make suits that let us float above the surface of the planet, and that we can talk to people in Texas from outer space. It's also super cool that we made movie technology that lets us feel like we're doing all those things from the safety of a movie theater. But that wasn't what left me in the throes of wonder.
Pardon the pun: I felt my center of gravity shift. I was made uncomfortable.
One reason is simply its wow factor: Gravity is enormous, and gorgeous. It is a technical achievement, but doesn't flaunt its technical achievement-ness (unlike, say, Avatar), and it must—must—be seen on the biggest screen you can find. Even to viewers numbed by myriad space operas and superhero epics and whatnot, the sunrise over the planet's curve can provoke wonder of the "what is man that you are mindful of him?" variety.
But the movie isn't all wide, epic shots: the camera sneaks inside Bullock's helmet and forces us to ...