Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Terrible Tuesday: On Oblivion

After yesterday's news, I was torn between sticking to my schedule or breaking away and doing some reviews of my favorite Robin William's films. I decided I'd stick it out, but I'd been planning on doing some of my top movies in subsequent Throwback Thursdays over the next month (after next weeks Doctor Who return). 

So Terrible Tuesday is still rearing its ugly head, and how you might ask if you haven't looked at the title of this article? As a bloated hodgpodge of better, more iconic, and more memorable Sci-Fi films from previous decades. Oh and it stars Tom Cruise, who I neither greatly love or greatly hate. I think I prefer him playing less than Mission Impossible roles, but I've certainly seen less convincing actors don the action hero mantle.

Most Idiotic Review

"While the premise and some factors of the movie may seem underwhelming going in, Oblivion not only delivers, but makes for an enjoyable and smart sci-fi movie well worth the price of admission." — Greenmember (Metacritic)

I had a hard time finding a review for this one short of dredging into internet comments from butthurt fanboys. So I'm starting to realize I might not have much new to say on the topic of this movie. Will that stop me? [insert southern colloquialism combining habits of chickens, greased-weasels, and/or rain]

So what did I do? I found a fanboy amidst the internet comments. Let me just clear something up, Greenmember, the only delivery of smart sci-fi in this whole film comes in the regurgitated remains of better classics. I get homage. I love homage. I even enjoy the little (blatant) nods in the Expendables films. 

This? This is the sci-fi equivalent of Disturbia, but at least it had the good graces to feel ashamed that it was ripping off Rear Window. 

Most Accurate Review

"Oblivion is not the most exciting or the smartest science fiction experience to ever hit theaters; action fans may be underwhelmed by a limited amount of gunplay, and viewers looking for an especially deep sci-fi world might find too many familiar tropes. Melodrama and predictable reveals keep the film from being the mind-bending creation that Kosinski may have envisioned, but the director still presents a captivating future with rich visuals and an intriguing protagonist." — Ben Kendrick (Screenrant)

I might have taken more ire with this film than most. Somewhere around the, "The Moon was destroyed," I tried turning it off, but my date insisted we finish watching the flick. I wasn't even allowed my usual MST3K behavior. Alas a second date was not in the making. Oh well. Movies are more important.

I think the majority of my reaction is coupled with not just this movie. 

A few months back an article entitled, "EDGE OF TOMORROW Deserves Redemption, For All Our Sakes" was making the rounds, and for several reasons, it burned my ass. It got me loaded up enough on frustration that I threw down with Edge of Tomorrow for a review. 

The bit I took issue with was, "Here was a really terrific SF film, and if it passes unnoticed, if it flops, it might be a while before another one comes by."

Now, I saw the film. It wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't 'really terrific'. It was really meh. I could go on, but I'll refrain. He goes on to say, "There have, of course, been a number of films very similar to EDGE OF TOMORROW in the last few years, SF movies, all doing similar sorts of business; OBLIVION; ELYSIUM; JOHN CARTER; WATCHMEN – PACIFIC RIM ..."

And personally, I found few of these films at all engaging. I'm totally a snob, I get it. I was raised on Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke, and I'll refrain from whipping out the Nostalgia Tinted Goggles and talking about how much better sci-fi was in the days of yore. But these movies he's listing are ... well, I thought most of them were deserving of an underwhelming reaction. District 9 had a spectacular response, and I found that movie particularly unengaging. Hmn, mayhap I'll do an editorial post in direct response to the article later this week. I seem to be finding I have a lot to say about it. TUNE IN NEXT TIME!

What I Say

Oblivion was a visual extravaganza of well done images showing us ... a lot of shit we've seen before. Spoilers ahead, me'hearties!

Plot — Aliens show up, clone Tom Cruise to make an army with which to take over the world so they can harvest water. Then they use the clones with false memories to hunt down the remaining humans, who disguise themselves just enough to try and fail to convince the audience that they're aliens. Tom Cruise 49 learns the truth and sets about destroying the alien vagina cube. Oh, and his wife is in there somewhere. She doesn't actually have that much to do.

Character — While I disagree with elements of the Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's review, I was pretty amused by his remarks, "Harper [Tom Cruise] is an idealized man; he's good with a gun, good with his hands, good in bed, loves football and rides a motorcycle. Though most of the movie's characters are women, not one of them is able to do anything without Harper's help — not even the mother triangle that lives in the space uterus."

Sadly it's true, and sadly, I got very little off of the rest of the cast. Morgan Freeman is there ... because of course he is. We have the competing affections of two women, both played well by Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough respectively, but their characters leave much to be desired. My reactions were underwhelmed to the n'th degree. 

Spectacle — The movie is visually brilliant (Director Joseph Kosinski, as usual, delivers on that front), but if you're looking to be visual stunned by imagery built on a foundation of character and plot ... you know, the story elements, go elsewhere. If you're on shrooms and just don't care? This is the movie for you. The design is meticulous and in many cases awe inspiring. If I could have stopped gnawing at the other failings of the film, it might have been one of my favorites. As it is? I was too frustrated with calling out every plot twist along the way. Clones, humans are the survivors, memorywipes, wives, switcheroos with Morgan Freeman, all wrapped in previously existing (albeit fantastically done) imagery. 

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