We’ve seen 3D space extravaganzas aplenty, but now director Alfonso Cuarón gives us a thriller that combines ground-breaking visuals with Oscar-baiting performances from two much-loved stars.

What’s it about? It’s a very simple plot: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are astronauts. He’s a veteran captain on his last space shuttle mission, she’s a medical engineer on her first. There’s a bad accident involving space debris and their shuttle – as hinted at in the terrific trailer at the end of this review. Will they make it home safely? Cue audience on a zero gravity knife-edge.

Verdict: Describing the plot is a galaxy far far away from the experience of watching it unfold in 3D. Gravity is great cinema, in the purest sense, like in the very earliest days of the medium when people used to line up to see footage of experiences they’d never seen before, like steam trains arriving. What you get is a visceral and visual experience that pushes the boundaries of filmmaking, while at the same time gripping the audience to such an extent you almost feel (ironically) there’s a weight on your chest.

Director Alfonso Cuarón and his team have created a new way of filming a space story that pulls you into the events, their cameras swooping across ships and debris with impossible fluidity and grace. The 3D works brilliantly. This is not pointy pointy Jaws 3D, it is an upgrade on the depth of field, immersive experience of films like Avatar (director James Cameron is a big fan of this).

Of course, the audience journey is more important than the technology behind it and Gravity is a blistering watch. You’ll be with Bullock’s character every step of the way, as she navigates a survival scenario that would make Bear Grylls soil his boxers in sheer terror. In space not only can no one hear you scream, but one minute miscalculation and you’re finished, and this movie never lets you forget it.

Bullock is believable and very moving in what must have been an extraordinarily difficult part to play, even in this green-screen era. Clooney gives proceedings heart as well as gravitas and his trademark charm. Both are undeniable box-office draws, but it’s the actors who make all the wizardry going on around them mean something.

Final Words: Gravity is a must-see for film fans and the kind of release that should get people in who don’t visit the cinema often. IMAX and 3D are nothing without great stories and Gravity is the best reason yet for the more expensive ticket.

Rating: 5 / 5      

Gravity (12A) is in UK cinemas on 7 November 2013.