"Gravity" limits itself to two actors--Sandra Bullock and George Clooney--with an uncredited Ed Harris the limited voice of Mission Control, a nice nod to his previous work in "Apollo 13." Voices matter when movement remains confined--within capsules and space suits--and Bullock astonishes with what she powerfully conveys in her actions and reactions.
The story doesn't need nor does it suggest any alien monsters--we are the aliens. It's pure survival that is the challenge. As an early title declares, life in space is impossible, or, if not impossible, extremely dangerous, a precarious razor's edge balance between life and death. Silence often reigns, frightening and forceful.
Metaphors abound, most notably Dr. Stone floating, buffeted in her life over a recent tragedy, longing to silence her emotions and thoughts about her recent history. As strong as the ideas are, symbolic parallels between the literal and figurative never intrude, even as they feel just right in suggesting the thread that supports our existence.
But the star of "Gravity" is the visceral visual and audio creation of Mexican director Cuarón and his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki with dozens of digital effects experts. The highest tribute to their accomplishment is that I quickly stopped trying to figure out how they achieved this spectacular, overwhelming masterpiece and gave in to the dizzying, thrilling experience. "Gravity" must be seen in 3-D to fully enjoy its amazing technical achievements. At area theaters.