Venice Film Festival opens with "Gravity"

Actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney attend the opening ceremony and "Gravity" premiere during the 70th Venice International Film Festival at the Palazzo del Cinema on Aug. 28, 2013, in Venice, Italy.
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

The Venice Film Festival got under way on Tuesday with a little help from George Clooney, Sandra Bullock and their new film "Gravity."

The space thriller opened the 70th annual festival with its world premiere.

Bullock, dressed in a red gown, was joined by Clooney and director Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men") on the red carpet at Venice's Palazzo del Cinema.

In "Gravity," Bullock and Clooney play two astronauts stranded in space. It doesn't open in theaters until Oct. 4, but it's already drawing rave reviews from critics.

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy writes, "At once the most realistic and beautifully choreographed film ever set in space, Gravity is a thrillingly realized survival story spiked with interludes of breath-catching tension and startling surprise."

Of the actors, he adds, "Clooney supplies both manly reliability and welcome lightness as a guy anyone would want in their corner in a pinch, while Bullock is aces in by far the best film she's ever been in."

Justin Chang of Variety calls the film a "white-knuckle space odyssey" that "should inspire awe among critics and audiences worldwide."

"As scripted by Cuaron and his son Jonas, this tale of one woman's grim expedition into the unknown is a nerve-shredding suspenser, a daring study in extreme isolation, and one of the most sophisticated and enveloping visions of space travel yet realized onscreen," he says.

Xan Brooks of the U.K.'s Guardian writes that "Gravity" is "a brilliantly tense and involving account of two stricken astronauts; a howl in the wilderness that sucks the breath from your lungs." He adds, "It comes blowing in from the ether like some weightless black nightmare, hanging planet Earth at crazy angles behind the action."

The Venice Film Festival runs through Sept. 7.