Visually, Gravity is unlike what we have seen on a cinema screen before and arguably it has one of the best uses of 3D in a movie. The setting is spectacular and the premise is inventive.
On every other front,the movie falters badly. Once you get over the initial wonderment surrounding the beautiful visuals, the chinks start showing up. Overall the script is very weak. Apparently the Russians bomb their own satellite by mistake and the debris is flying around at bullet speed, smashing everything in its way. Now upon hearing an emergency evacuation request, Kowalski (who has been wasting his precious thrusters all this while, floating around, spouting inane dialogs) orders Ryan (Bullock) to disengage from whatever she is repairing. Apparently Ryan has six months of training (only) and fails to be responsive and then the trouble starts.
We come to know that Ryan has some head issues surrounding the death of her daughter as the writer felt a dire need to give Ryan some sort of existential problem in her head to make her character feel more human. Apart from this minor bit, nothing is presented in terms of character development for any other protagonists. Who is Kowalski? Who are the people who died in their space pods? No idea.
Then the whole manufactured sense of suspense. Every time Ryan gets anywhere near the Air Lock (she does it three times), the debris presents itself like on cue every single time. Then a fire in a space station, then running out of Oxygen, then something then something. It's fine that they used some standard tricks but it all seems so manufactured and mechanical by the numbers suspense.
Also at times I couldn't shrug off the feeling that what they are showing on screen is not actually factual. Do the controls on various international space stations have their national languages on them? Really? Maybe they do but seems hard to believe when 20$ phones are built with custom User interfaces with changeable languages, why have your billion dollar space stations with Russian or Chinese characters on your buttons totally beats me. Oh manufactured suspense owing to the whole can't-understand-this-thing machinery.
The the dialogs when they come are nothing to write home about. Ryan has a hallucinatory moment when she talks to herself following some Mandarin Chatter on the radio which is cringe worthy. I wont even mention the in-your-face allegory about rebirth which is there for to make the movie seem deeper than it is.
So what works for the movie? It's a cross between an IMAX documentary with some suspense elements thrown it which makes it look path breaking.
But it's not. Not a bad watch but nothing to rave about either.