Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are the two huge names in the space-set thriller Gravity, but they both take a backseat to the real standout of this film: the visual effects. Director Alfonso Cuarón is responsible for this feat of moviemaking, which, while stunning, only provides a snippet of human interest for its only characters, played by Clooney and Bullock.
Those characters are Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney), who are orbiting above earth in a space shuttle. Ryan is the newbie medical engineer, unused to life in space, while Matt is the veteran astronaut, and when debris from a neighboring craft hits and damages their shuttle, they are the lone survivors. They must make their way to another nearby craft, while floating, spinning, and being, yes, lost in space. Even with two actors and such desolate surroundings, Matt and Ryan's journey is a nail-biter, and plenty compelling. To find out what else I thought about Gravity, just keep reading.
Though Bullock and Clooney give their characters considerable personality (even if Clooney is just playing himself as astronaut George Clooney), there's not much of an emotional arc for either character. Not that Cuarón doesn't try; Ryan is harboring a personal struggle, which holds her back in her current physical challenge. Bullock makes you feel her pain with the meager backstory she's given, but the effect is insubstantial. Cuarón takes a stab at symbolism with space and the characters' loneliness, but the attempt is ultimately as empty as the surroundings look.
However, character development isn't needed; there's plenty of drama in getting two flailing astronauts to safety. There are literal and figurative ups and downs for Ryan and Matt, and with the benefit of 3D and IMAX, you can feel like you're going with them. You don't necessarily need to see Gravity in both IMAX and 3D, but you should. The black sky surrounds you, the debris flies at you, and you can even imagine what it is to be weightless, like Ryan and Matt. There may not be a plot to get wrapped up in, but it's sacrificed for another intent. The special effects and incredible visuals are what make Gravity not just a movie, but an experience.