Movie Review: Oblivion

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I didn’t go into this film with the highest of expectations, nor did I go into it thinking it would be a stinker.  At the very least, I was hoping that I’d be saying more after walking out of the theater than “Where did I park again?”, but that’s about right where it fell.

Oblivion is about Jack and Victoria, a team of engineers/repairmen/exterminators/casual sex enthusiasts living in a swanky apartment above the clouds.  They have a generic commander who informs them they are doing a great job and/or constantly asks them if they are doing a great job.  Mainly, the duo repair badass assault drones and make sure that the alien threat on Earth doesn’t mess with the hydro converters that the humans are using to convert Ocean water into energy for their new home on one of Saturn’s moons.  Then Jack comes across a crashed ship that still has a human life form in it and then (RECORD SCRATCH) shit gets real…

I actually struggled to retain much from the movie in the couple of days since I’ve seen it.  I remember it had excellent cinematography and visual effects.  Everything blended very seamlessly into the environments, and most of the shot composition was superb.  You’d probably be hard pressed to find someone who saw Oblivion and at the very least didn’t say that it looked great.

The story kind of borrowed from a lot of different places.  Especially the third act, which was a mashup of The Matrix, Independence Day, and Moon.  Actually, throughout the entire duration of Oblivion, I couldn’t help but feel like everything in it was something that I’d already seen before.  Being a big fan of Tarantino, I’d be a hypocrite to say that this it’s a no-no to borrow so much from other sources; but that practice works sometimes, and doesn’t work other times.  It didn’t even necessarily fail in Oblivion, either, it just didn’t feel all that special.

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Is it sad that when I watch Tom Cruise movies nowadays, I spend the entire time thinking about how big of a weirdo he probably is in real life?  Once the film started to lose me for even an instant, I start to think about how Cruise was potentially behaving on the set during the scene.  Does he get along with people?  Is he like going around smacking interns on the back, doing his loud, toothy laugh?  Or does he really get into it, and between takes he’s practicing doing somersaults and yelling “ZEW ZEW ZEW” with his prop gun because he’s insane?  I like to think it’s a combo of the two.  Maybe he sits in the cockpit of his fake spaceship, using the intercom feature to alert the film crew that he finds their work to be satisfactory of the mission.

Anyway, the rest of the cast was alright.  I had no idea who Andrea Riseborough was before this movie, but she was great in Oblivion.  Easily the standout member of the cast.  The dude who plays Jaime Lannister was there too, reduced to the “hot-headed” human resistance guy.  Morgan Freeman didn’t do it for me, though.  I love the guy in a lot of things, but for some reason I just wasn’t digging him in Oblivion.  Maybe it was too Morgan Freeman-y of a performance?  Like, I wasn’t able to establish the character at all because I was going “Hey look, it’s Morgan Freeman in a jumpsuit!”

The drones may actually have been the best characters in the film now that I think about it.  They served their purpose as a rightfully frightening entity.  Nearly unstoppable forces that can have the potential to turn on characters at the drop of a hat.  And great sound design on all of them in addition to the visuals.  And a nice nod to HAL with the red camera eyes.

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Like all science fiction films, there are logic flaws abound.  If I cared about Oblivion more, I’d probably care more to be more critical of them.  But if someone started to attack the logic of this movie, I don’t think I’d waste my energy to defend it.  Or vice versa, if someone was praising it immensely, I wouldn’t feel the need to bring them down to Earth and tell them why Oblivion was stupid.  If anyone talks to me about Oblivion, I’m probably just going to say “Yeah, it’s fun I guess.  Nothing special.”  Perhaps it doesn’t make sense that an alien force that is fully sustainable living in outer space needs the resources of a planet like Earth and deem it necessary to invade us.  At the same time, maybe I AM  in the camp that has overlooked such flaws for its pretty looking visuals and laser gun noises?  I’d like to think I’m not in most cases, but here we are…  Maybe I’ll just put Oblivion behind me…  Which is odd, considering I kind of liked it.

Side note: my body was pretty out of control when I went to go see Oblivion.  I fell asleep for a few minutes minutes during the scene when Jack discovers the survivor of the wreckage, and I had to go to the bathroom for a few minutes during the scene when Jack crosses into the radiation zone.  So, perhaps I didn’t watch the two most plot twisting scenes of the entire film, but what was I supposed to do about it?  I got tired, so I fell asleep; and my stomach hurt, so I went to the bathroom (my friend filled me in on the details after the movie).  I’m not saying Oblivion was solely responsible for either of these things, but the jury is still out on this one, you guys.  Regardless, this has felt like one of my most rambling, inconclusive reviews yet.  So, I’ll end things by saying that there was a moment when Jaime Lannister helps a character up after a battle in this movie, and they do a closeup of his right hand, which I found to be subtly hilarious.

7 out of 10

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