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Roller-coaster ride in outer space feels very real.

This film did not win all those Oscars because of a sympathy vote. It really is that good.

Outstanding acting from Sandra Bullock, who delivers a nuanced performance as a woman who discovers in herself a will to survive, plus seamless cgi special effects which create the feeling that you are in outer space, make for a simple yet spellbinding story.

Bullock is Dr Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney).

When their space shuttle is destroyed they become stranded in outer space and now the fight to survive begins.

Director Alfonso Cuaron creates the feeling that they really are untethered from our Earth-bound reality, and in this isolation, they really do discover who they are.

Cuaron keeps the tension ratcheted tightly and creates a visceral experience. Ultimately Stone’s brush with death is really about learning to appreciate life.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Lots of behind-the-scenes features about the challenges of zero-gravity, the revisualisation process (which is becoming more important and complicated as films become technologically more challenging) and all the technical problems of complete silence and creating physical weightlessness.

Shot breakdowns give you a feel for the specifics such as the composition of the splashdown sequence or how the score was created.

In normal action films the score competes with sounds like cars and people, but there is no sound in space, so all events had to be described with music.

Aningaaq – a short film by Jonas Cuaron with an introduction: when she connects with someone, Ryan connects on the radio with someone who doesn’t speak English and this short film gives you the action on the other side of the radio.

While Ryan is getting to grips with the concept of death, Aningaaq is coming to grips with something similar.

Documentary: Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space, narrated by Ed Harris (who’s the voice on the radio link-up with Houston). – Theresa Smith

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