For the uninitiated, a perfunctory glance suggests this is the most well reviewed major English language film in over a decade. On Rottentomatoes, it is sitting at 98% Fresh amongst all critics and 100% Fresh amongst "top critics". Buzz includes comments such as those from James Cameron that this is "the greatest movie ever set in space" and "the movie [he] has been waiting [his] whole life to see." The movies is written, directed, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón who has made several extrodinary movies, amongst them Y Tú Mama Tambien and Children of Men.
First of all, I loved it. But secondly, this is a nearly impossible movie to review. Immediately, this is the most extraordinarily well filmed movie set in space of all time. And, frankly, space or no, it is flat out one of the most expertly and wonderfully filmed movies in the history of cinema.
What makes the movie so unlike any other movie, though, is for all the technical and photographic brilliance, the movie is essentially a play. Perhaps even a minimalist play. The entire never-bested production is to provide the backdrop for a very human and in some ways very small and quiet movie -- but a movie full of emotion and 88 minutes of thrill and excitement (The entire movie is 91 minutes long).
George Clooney is great, and Sandra Bullock gives the best performance of her career. And I felt feelings... even though I've never been in their position, it really resonated with me -- how would I handle it? How could I find the ability to go on? The movie is about the triumph of the human spirit and, perhaps because my mother just passed away a couple of weeks ago, I could not help but be reminded of the very human struggles my family has recently gone through as watching this.
All of this said, I was consistently taken out of being truly and fully immersed -- for the strangest of reasons. The scope and quality of the photography, staging, and production was so extraordinary that I was often aware of the juxtaposition of this production for what, as I said, is essentially a very human, small, play. Cuarón is such a brilliant director, everything on the screen is alive and moving -- thought has gone into the pen or paperclip in the upper right hand corner of the screen that any other director would have paid no attention to. But it is almost as if he is *too good* for this. It is almost like Schindler's List direction of Waiting for Godot.
This is a movie that absolutely MUST be seen in 3D on a huge screen. The flip side of what I've been saying is that in order to get the requisite thrill and impact of this movie, such production values were absolutely essential. It adds tremendously. Plus, just as a movie buff, this is going to be (already is being) called one of the greatest technical achievements in movie history -- and even if just for that (even though there is so much more to seeing it on a huge screen in 3D) -- it is a 'must see' in 3D on the largest screen in your area for any movie lover.
I'm coming in lower than the vast majority of critics on this and scoring it an enthusiastic: A-