Saturday, April 20, 2013

Movie Review - Oblivion


Starring: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and more.

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski Screenplay by: Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek, and Michael Arndt  Based on the Comic Books by: Joseph Kosinski and Arvid Nelson Cinematography by: Claudio Miranda Original Music by: Anthony Gonzales, Joseph Trapanese, and M.8.3

Premise: Earth won a war against an alien race, but in doing so spoiled most of the planet. Humanity has no choice but to migrate to Titan. Yet in order to do so, the water of Earth  must be collected and turned into fuel. Safeguarding the suction machines from the remnants of the alien force are automated robotic guards. Jack Harper and teammate remain behind on Earth to make sure the robots keep functioning properly to defend the larger machines. But the attacks of sabotage by the Scavs seem to be getting more inventive. If only the weird dreams wouldn't keep plaguing Jack, he'd be better able to deal with these threats. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting -  Total Thumbs Up: Tom Cruise gave a great performance as the curious Jack Harper. Andrea Riseborough brought a lot more into the film than is first apparent, giving greater depth to the truth's later revealed. Olga Kurylenko added her own sublime touches to the story as well. Morgan Freeman was his usual wonderful self.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects start from the moment the screen goes dark. When the Universal Logo starts, make sure to look closely. You'll see the orbital Tet and then the Earth itself transform into what it is in 2077. Made for a nice little touch.

The different vehicles in the film were a lot of fun. Jack's flyer is totally cool. The guardian robots were intimidating and fun to watch. They even seemed to have a little bit of a personality, intentional or not. I loved the scanner sequences. They did a lot of nice work with HUD displays and computer tops.

Some cool laser battles and explosions were spread around during the film. Nice stuff! And wait till you see the pool!

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Jack gets the audience 'up to speed' with a quick summary of how the Earth got to the state it is presently in. Then he mentions the fact he's been routinely mind wiped - a great trigger for letting the audience know things are possibly not what they seem. The repetition of certain phrases and actions hold more meaning than those doing them at times comprehend. Keep an eye on the character of Victoria - at a couple of spots her expressions tell whole stories on their own. Plus it is through and from her that little hints get dropped that all is not what we might think.

Overall, the story was solid. Several surprises show up twisting the story in directions that won't be expected. The science took a couple of hits towards the end of the film, however, as the typical Hollywood ploy of 'destroy the one big thing and it will make all others stop functioning' gets used, despite the actions and facts negating the feasibility of such a course actually stopping the action going on down at the ground. Still, that and the fact the ship wasn't scanned (or if it was, that it didn't pick up the energy signatures of the energy cores), only took away a little of the otherwise quite satisfying film. (Though  - if they'd shown the fighters try to shield the cores in some way, it would have totally fixed the issue.)

There are several bits of homage to older SF films in the movie, but also several to Tom's first big film"Top Gun." (Hint: The flyer has the first one.)

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Fun action sequences and stunts during the exploration of, and the combat at, the New York Public Library. The massive battle at the hidden base was also good.

Better still was the hand to hand fight in the radiation zone. Tom really does make combat look easy. The one point that impressed me the most on this sequence was the attention to detail on the angles. The moment the gun went off, the poised bodies tell you exactly where the shot went, even though it will be almost a full minute before they actually show it. (Not so exciting was the fact they used this old movie cliche, but at least they pulled it off well.)

5) Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Great use by Claudio Miranda of overhead sweeping shots. It  brought home the isolation of the task Harper and his teammate lived under, while also showing some truly gorgeous benefits of living there as well. It also was a great way to show the audience the huge amount of devastation the planet had suffered and how the events of over fifty years ago changed the face of New York. When Harper rides the motorcycle through the desert of beached ships, it was eerie and fascinating all at once. Seeing well know NY icons as they stand in 2077, made it even more disturbing.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: The costuming and makeup departments did a lot of subtle things that really ramped up the overall feelings and impressions. There was the duality of opposite extremes created purely from the different states we found Jack and Victoria in. Jack toiled, he sweated, got hurt, became dirty. Victoria on the other hand usually looked fresh, rested, composed inside and out, even when being ignored or bypassed by Sally. This was defined even more when we get to compare the contrast between where Jack and Victoria live together to the little hide away Jack has made for himself on the ground.

Conclusion: "Oblivion" is a good science fiction film, actually bringing forth what SF does best. The few faux pas in the science toward the end are not too hard to ignore and don't take away from the enjoyment and the great plot twsists. Keep an eye on Victoria - her side of things will add a lot of meaning and depth to things revealed later. Make sure to pay attention when the Universal logo starts!

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

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