Friday, 10 May 2013

Oblivion

Tom Cruise does it again in yet another science fiction movie!  I was excited to go see Oblivion, mainly because Minority Report is one of my most favourite movies.  (If you haven't seen it, shame on you and go buy it!)




Look at him! Look how bad ass Tom Cruise looks.




The trailers and teasers for Oblivion was fantastic so I was convinced that it would be a solid movie.  Well...keep reading.

It's the year 2077 and we are introduced to Jack Harper (Tech 49) and a very different Earth than what we are now living in.  According to Jack, aliens (known as "Scavs") came down to Earth from the moon and destroyed the world we now see.  Life, greenery, the water...everything is wasted, buildings crumbled, civilizations gone forever.

Above the Earth sits a space station called "Tet" where humans go before being sent on to the new home of Titan, one of Saturn's moons.  Three giant machines hover over the oceans of Earth and are eternally sucking water upward and off the planet, bleeding Earth dry; the water is needed in Titan for the humans surviving there.

The water generators:



Jack spends his time trying to hunt down and destroy Scavs, while his work (and romantic) partner Victoria mans their home.  They check in with Sally, their mission commander on the Tet every day, confirming that they are protecting the water pumps and that all is copacetic on planet Earth.

It's all very high tech and cool.



There are some INCREDIBLE sweeping cinematic scenes in this movie.  It is definitely eye candy if  you love panoramic post-apocalyptic shots.

The Empire State Building



A stadium



Jack and Victoria's home is a type of pod, way high up in the sky.  There is a particularly beautiful scene of them swimming that I was unable to find a picture of...but these give you a good idea:





Absolutely stunning imagery.

While sleeping in this gorgeous sky house, Jack keeps having strange dreams that he comes to believe are more than dreams...they are memories.  It doesn't make sense though.  Victoria and Jack had their memories wiped five years prior in order to be a more effective team.  Yet somehow...this woman keeps haunting Jack's dreams.  Who is she?



As the story unfolds, Jack ends up meeting BAMF Morgan Freeman, who tells him that his life is a lie.  The Tet (and Sally) are not what they seem.  He encourages Jack to look around Earth and explore, uncover the lies.



So far it all sounds and looks great, doesn't it?
The cinematography is beautiful, the script decent, the music powerful, the concepts intriguing...
What were the major flaws with this movie?  Why did I only give it a 7.5, maybe an 8, out of 10?
Well, my four biggest issues with this movie are:


  1. Tom Cruise is too Tom Cruise.
  2. General confusion with regards to the plot and characters.
  3. Morgan Freeman is over the top.
  4. The ending.

Even though it doesn't seem like much to gripe about, it was enough to irritate and niggle at me throughout the movie.

I've never hated Tom Cruise as many people seem to do;  I consider him to be a decent if somewhat method actor, propped up by crazy stunts and action scenes.  He is the essence of what I consider an action star to be.  This became very apparent in several scenes of Oblivion.  I almost laughed out loud when he snapped on his ultra-cool goggles, vaulted onto his motorcycle (of course) and zoomed away across the screen.



And a lot of dramatic falling from him



And just generally a lot of posing happened--usually with guns.





In Oblivion, I felt that Tom Cruise was too aware of Tom Cruise.

The second complaint I had was about how confusing the plot was.  Now, reading about it as I laid it out above, it doesn't seem that strange, right?  No, you would think that the director would have found a way to explain what was going on without leaving me turning to Matt and saying, "What are they talking about?"

In tandem with that issue was the fact that there was a lot of random mumbling about things.  Characters said things to each other as an aside which let me very confused.  Of course in the end it all becomes MORE clear, but it's still rather conflicting.  

Now with regards to Morgan Freeman:  I have nothing against the actor.  I have always thought that he does a fantastic job with the roles he chooses.  However, in this movie he was definitely lacking.  Perhaps this is due to the limitation of his character and lack of dimension.  There is very little exploration of who his character is and how he came to be.  He does look cool in his sunglasses though.  Still...I wish they had spent less time on sweeping landscapes and fantastic CGI shots and had chosen to flesh out the secondary characters a tad more.

Isn't it a bad sign that I don't even know his character's name?  (Or his sidekick's name?) 



Finally:  the ending.

Usually with sci-fi movies, you expect some sort of big pay off at the end.  All the technology that these aliens have presented to us, all the efforts to suck the world dry and use the water to fuel themselves, everything that seems so grandiose...is reduced to something very insignificant in the final scene.  In a way, I appreciate that they didn't lag or spend a lot of time with a long drawn out battle at the end, but wow, it was WAY too rushed and far too easy of an ending. 

I have to stop myself here in case I start spoiling any possible viewer.  I would give Oblivion a 7.5/10, or maybe even an 8 when I'm feeling generous, because even though there were some big flaws with it, it was still a decent movie and I am glad I chose to watch it on the big screen.

During and after the movie, I had this sense that in a way the cast & crew were attempting to emulate the feel of Minority Report, with it's whimsical and fleeting romance and touching reunion, bittersweet endings...  MR has goose-bump inducing moments, things that you can't necessarily put your finger on or explain, but it is there lingering at the back of your mind after you finish watching it.

Go watch Minority Report, then watch Oblivion and then let me know what you think about those two movies in comparison.

Cheers!






















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