$90,000,000, a hundred, whatever they spent: this is a taut thriller built for audiences but also one of the most expensive experimental movies ever made. It's a thrill ride, but a work by a visual artist at the extremes of his acuity.
This is a story about people floating through space, and Alfonso Cuarón's feature brilliantly contrives to make the viewer feel similarly untethered, to often thrilling effect. This is surely the closest cinema comes to three-dimensional virtual abseiling.
It's a technical marvel -- appropriately breathtaking in its evocation of space's vastness and the buffeting suffered by the two astronauts in their efforts to anchor themselves to something solid. But Cuaron also knows how suspense works.