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4 Ways Gravity Lives Up to the Hype — and 1 Way It Doesn’t

1) It’s not so much a movie as an all-consuming, mindblowing cinematic experience.

Director Alfonso Cuaron’s cinematographer and visual and sound effects teams have created an immersive 3D spectacle with few parallels in the history of moviemaking. Sound like hyperbole? You’ll be hearing a lot more along the same lines, because no film has ever made you feel space in all its awesome, terrible majesty like Gravity.

When Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, playing U.S. astronauts, get caught up in a debris belt and separated from their spacecraft and from one another, you’ll be spellbound by the scale of what they’re up against. When sound effects can’t be deployed (there is no sound in space, although there is plenty of it inside the helmets of the characters and inside the pressurized chambers of the various spacecraft they visit), a magnificently evocative musical score takes over, providing an approximation of what the catastrophic events the astronauts are witnessing might sound like on Earth, or in the imaginations of the overwhelmed characters.