In a record crowd for the NSFCCDP, seven of us took the occasion to see the Paris opening for Tom Cruise‘s new scifi movie Oblivion. I will try to avoid spoilers because I know the film is coming out in the US in a few days, but still need to share some impressions and give you a few ideas to think about as you watch it. In a general sense, it is very beautiful to see with incredibly seamless special effects, great gadgets, and good photography. One particular gripe I had actually (despite two exceptions which will be obvious to those who watch it) was the music which I found distracting and annoying. The story itself is interesting. While it does not explicitly reference Scientologist mythology, the concept of alien invasion and apocalypse is part of that religion (see this article) so perhaps there is something subliminal to it – I wouldn’t put it beyond Cruise who apparently forbid “Scientology-haters” to see the premier screening.
The reactions of the NSFCCDP crowd were mixed. On the m.poulet side (with Juju and LB), there was general elation and satisfaction at this being a “true” scifi movie in the classic sense (aliens, clones and drones, spaceships, battle scenes and loads of CG). Reading the wikipedia article about the film, the producer-director Joseph Kosinski intended the film as a tribute to the SciFi flicks in the 70s so the group does score points on that one! They thought that there were subtleties here that escaped the other group – the one consisting of myself, 2112.net, the pianoman, and abbeybooks. I won’t claim to speak for others in my group (and they are welcome to read and comment of course), but I think the general consensus on our side was that the movie was a little condescending in its storytelling technique (not leaving much guesswork or deduction to the viewer but telling us what we should be seeing all the time), a bit repetitive (several scenes were shown over and over again ad nauseum with no real plot advancement), predictable (at one point I was like – a kid is gonna pop out right there…and one did a second later), and even unoriginal (the ending is similar to that of The Avengers or the almost-death of Superman in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (the comic obviously)). The “pro-Oblivion” crowd felt that these were all minor details against a compelling, ambitious scenario and shooting schedule. The subtleties they found were in the third character where we deduce her relationship from the absence of information on her rather than (as in the second character) being read the story again and again. Consensus was not reached despite Guiness- and Grimbergen-fueled lubrication.
I read a few reviews on the web and this mixed reaction seems rather typical. I think that Cruise’s acting was actually far better (and his character ultimately more likeable) in Jack Reacher than here as Jack Harper (coincidence on the name similarities?).
Now, a few bitches (it wouldn’t be a Fino post without them would it?): first off, why is it that every damn invasion and catastrophe happens in New York? I mean we see how many shots of the remnants of the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge? You’d think that the catastrophe would have affected, say, Africa, Asia, and Europe too but jeez, imagine that THIS particular story would happen in ex-New York. Go figure. Next, how is it that Tom randomly falls in some hole somewhere (they kind of gave hints of it being a Venetian palace or library) and the book he picks up (of all the possible books in all the possible languages on the planet) is in English. So, just be chance, all the French, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese books all went up in flames and all that was left was a smattering of books in English? And what happened to all the Asians and African Americans? Ok, so you have the eternal Morgan Freeman (when Larry Fishbone or Will Smith are unavailable, there is always Morgan right?), but there was no other color (or humor!) in this film. Lastly, the aliens were, well, anti-climactic IMHO. ‘Nuf said. Well, except for the similarity in the Tet’s triangular shape and the vulcano on the cover of Dianetics…
OK, so you can see that I didn’t really rate this movie very high, I’d give it a 6.0/10 based primarily on the special effects and gadgets. But no higher owing to what I felt were gaping plot holes and ridiculous romantic scenes, etc. To compare it to other scifi alien-invasion films I have watched and/or reviewed here, it was not as abysmal as Battleship or 2012, but it was not as good as say, The Avengers (although here m.poulet took exception because he considers The Avengers to be a superhero flick – I think it qualifies for SciFi because it has aliens…other opinions on this?). Well, I didn’t spoil anything here so run out and watch it and let me know what you think!
- Oblivion; A Movie Review (jameshearth.wordpress.com)
- Oblivion  – Just Visual Delight (cnufederer.wordpress.com)
- Tom Cruise Bans Anti Scientology Publications from ‘Oblivion’ Premiere (celebs.gather.com)
- Movie Review: “Oblivion,” an April sci-fi film (rogersmovienation.com)