Sunday, 28 April 2013

Movie Review - Oblivion

It's almost a quiet kind of sci-fi.
   The sci-fi genre isn't always about space cruisers, rampaging robots and laser battles. It used to be that sci-fi was cerebral and contemplative. This is along the lines of the classic view of the future, with Asimov and Bradbury, with their sometimes lonely take on human nature with bleak twists. This isn't to say that Oblivion didn't have the aforementioned space cruisers, rampaging robots or laser battles; it actually did (haha). But its focus isn't on futuristic action but more on the enigma of memory and human spirit.

   Oblivion is set in the future where an alien invasion left the Earth ruined. Jack and Victoria oversee drone repairs and deal with pocket alien resistance groups. Jack is bothered by strange memories and a shuttle that crash lands contains information that makes him question his very existence.

   The story moves with a slow burn. It's possible to cut out about 20-30 minutes out of the film that is used to establish the setting. The story unfolds as it should, with small bits of info being dropped piecemeal until the whole is revealed. The 'ultimate power of love' is the moving factor but it's not overly cloyingly or sentimental. The sci-fi element with the invasion and the memories isn't all new but it works as a variation of the theme. What's marvelous is that the film didn't try to cash in on the action and fighting aspect and it focused more on character, though there still is a healthy dose of futuristic violence and even gratuitousness, haha.

   The planet might have been devastated but the landscape is oddly breathtaking, haha. The setting is beautiful in desolation and rather peaceful in a way. The post Apocalyptic evidences are quite minimum and kept underground so the futuristic feel isn't so much, except in the characters garb and the limited technology they use. The 'bubble' craft is the main piece of tech that stands out, being both awkward looking and endearing at the same time. The drones are of the same vein; they are almost cute to the point of being lovable despite the firepower they're packing.

   Tom Cruise as Jack Harper is subtle with his acting, not really being truly overt with his emotions. Victoria, played by Andrea Riseborough, is more transparent, a tragic figure trying to make do with her lot. Olga Kurylenko doesn't display much range, as she is almost a damsel in distress. Morgan Freeman lends his distinct voice as the exposition man while Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is wasted with his small role. 

   Oblivion is not meant to be an explosive, exploitative blockbuster; it is a decent, recent example of the many facets of sci-fi. Its slant towards atmosphere and character over overblown special effects and a setting in wide open spaces instead of confined quarters shows that variety isn't dead and that the genre can still cause wonder without it exploding in your face.

SPOILERS!!!! Don't look if you haven't seen the movie or Drone 166 will glare at you with his sensors.
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   Did the original Victoria have feelings for Jack? Or was it something Sally just programmed? What happened to the clone Victoria that Jack met when he beat up his clone?

   What happened to all the other clones? With the destruction of Sally, the drones lost power. Did their houses lose power too? What if they were trapped inside and starved? They were actually innocent as they didn't know anything about the Tet.

   Are the clones kept on earth only at a specific time to keep them at a certain age? Are they terminated once they return to the Tet?

   I imagine all the Jacks have their own secluded hideaways around the world, if they all think alike. 

  Sally's takeover is actually pretty good, though why would a mecha-based sentient trust in organics, haha.

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