Oblivion: an unconvincing mish-mash of science-fiction past and present

oblivion

Oblivion boasts a charismatic star and a good band of techy’s… but the script is awful and the director is even worse.  The result? A science-fiction film so dull and unimaginative, you almost feel bad for the bags of money spent on special effects (which are, admittedly, pretty darn impressive, but not nearly enough to be the film’s saving grace).

The year is 2077 and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a drone technician living far above the clouds in Tower 49 with his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). They are the last humans left on Earth after it was destroyed by an alien race called the ‘Scavs’. The rest of the human population are on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Jack and Victoria have been left on Earth to work in the Tower and fix up malfunctioning drones – essentially tying up lose ends before they, also, relocate to Titan.

My main problem with this post-apocalyptic tale is that it borrows too much from previous films. Way too much. It reference’s everything from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) to Star Wars (1977), Total Recall (1990) to I Am Legend (2007). Cruise’s own Top Gun (1986) is also given an embarrassingly obvious nod.

Consequently, almost nothing about this film rings true. The relationships between the three main characters are clunky and devoid of emotion and the plot twist towards the end is neither surprising nor stirring.

It’s as if Director Joseph Kosinski was given a handwritten checklist (probably scrawled on the back of a Tesco’s receipt) of what a sci-film must contain and expects us to be satisfied by lumping all these ‘must-haves’ into the same film.

Having said that, it has to be noted that Claudio Miranda’s cinematography is indeed breath-taking and the 80’s synth-style score by M83 is both amusing and inviting. Neither accolades are reasons to actually go and see this disastrous film, but credit where it’s due.

Overall, though Oblivion is amazing to look at, it ultimately leaves you bored and unimpressed. Only two things could make this movie better – different director, or a Morgan Freeman voice-over. The former is an unfortunate reality, but the latter could always be fixed in post-production. Lets start a petition shall we?!

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Red Dawn: jingoistic and unnecessary

Red-Dawn

The jingoistic Red Dawn, in which North Korea invades America in the very near future, is the unfortunate  movie Chris Hemsworth signed up for when he was still an unknown and maybe  living, if not under a rock, perhaps in a pickup truck. After MGM went belly-up in ’09, Red Dawn was, for all intents and purposes, left on a shelf somewhere to gather dust – hence why it’s only now seeing the cold harsh light of day.

If you read the first sentence correctly, you’re probably wondering how North Korea (population 25 million) can raise enough invaders to attack the Unites States (population 315 million). Short answer is, thy probably can’t. You see the original screenplay for this remake named the invaders as Chinese. After principal photography was completed on the film three years ago, the enemy identity was changed to North Korea by reshooting several scenes, redubbing lots of dialogue and using digital adjustment to change the looks of flags, uniforms and insignia on trucks and tanks. Why? Because China is one of the biggest markets for American movie exports. North Korea, not so much.

In this remake of the 1984 cult classic, the able Hemsworth plays Jed Eckert, an emotionally bruised veteran on a visit home to Spokane after a few tours in the Middle East. His little brother  Matt (Josh Peck) is the quarterback of his high school football team. After a prologue of talking heads giving a political “primer” on declining  relations with North Korea, the film opens with Jed and the boys’ dad (Brett  Cullen) watching in dismay as the Wolverines lose their game.

The brothers Eckert wake the very next day to the sight of North Korean paratroopers floating down from the sky. Spokane is soon under foreign  control, as well as other American cities. The boys escape to their family’s hunting cabin with a crew of  friends and acquaintances, including a pair of younger, handily tech-savvy geeks  played by Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) and Conor Cruise (son of Tom Cruise).

Under Jed’s tutelage they emerge as Wolverines – teenage ass-kickers raising  hell for those dopey invaders, who bumble and stumble and can do little more  than raise a frustrated fist at the pesky kids. Only one of them, their leader Captain  Lo (Will Yun Lee) even gets a name.

Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas and Alyssa  Diaz provide the girl power, all of which is very PG (no bunker hook-ups  for these kids) while Peck projects such pained  sensitivity that I had doubts about his characters ability to make a sandwich, let alone  kill dozens of Koreans.

If the movie finds an audience, that audience will most likely be 14  and oblivious to the fact that there ever was an earlier Red Dawn.

Definitely one to stay away from.

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