Monday, April 22, 2013
Inaugural post, and Film Review of Tom Cruise's Oblivion
Hello and welcome to my blog. I am a relative newcomer to the professional speculative fiction writing community, but I have thus far certainly been enjoying the ride. I plan on using this blog as a forum to express my thoughts on what I read, write and watch, as well as to communicate with readers and fellow authors. I am very responsive to posts and emails and love to hear from fellow sci-fi lovers.
Without further ado, I will break into my first actual content piece: a brief review of Tom Cruise's Oblivion (contains some spoilers):
I went into this movie with low-to-moderate hopes. Big-budget sci fi has largely been a mess lately, and I'm still getting over the gut-punching hope-dashing that Ridley Scott gave me in last year's Prometheus. I'm also admittedly not a huge Tom Cruise fan. So, I went into the movie with my share of biases, but despite all of this, I can admit that I left the movie theater entertained.
That is not to say that Oblivion is a great, or even a very good, film. Indeed much of it was derivative, prompting one reviewer, Tom Charity, to say: "If you poured all the most memorable sci-fi films from the past half century into a blender, from "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the original "Planet of the Apes" all the way down to last year's "Prometheus," you would probably wind up with something very similar [to Oblivion]."
While I admit that I did notice the numerous tropes and concept-borrowing that Charity is alluding to, I did not find that, overall, this movie was a derivative experience. Importantly, I left the theater WITHOUT the feeling that I had seen this exact movie before (and that's a good thing).
The plot focuses around a team of technicians stationed on a post-apocalyptic Earth. They are tasked with defending the machinery that mankind is using to relocate to a new celestial home, now that mother Earth is no longer hospitable. In their way stand remnants of the alien forces that decimated Earth in the first place. Not a bad post-apocalyptic setting, and not one that I've seen before.
The film's opening acts are fairly slowly-paced, and I found myself wishing that things would just get where they were going. Once the plot ramped up, though, the pacing markedly improved. The movie's trailers spoil one of the film's major plot twists, so I went into it with the "I see all this coming," mentality. However, the film also delivers a pretty strong twist about two-thirds of the way through that turns is all on its head, and I most assuredly did not see it coming.
Action sci-fi fans will likely be underwhelmed by the overall lack of "shoot-em-up" sequences, but since this is not my taste anyway I found the action sequences that did appear were overall both exciting and appropriate.
It was not all peaches and cream, though, as I was also plagued by several instances where I was unable to achieve suspension of disbelief. These moments were mostly concerning the motives of the antagonist in the final movement of the plot. They seemed a bit far-fetched. Additionally, a plot arc introduced late in the movie just did not work for me (spoiler alert) surrounding the introduction of clones.
Overall, Oblivion is a fair film, one that I do not regret watching but that I would be hard-pressed to watch again. I give this film a 6.5/10, which is perhaps a bit higher than most critics will allow, but I appreciated the ambitious scope that the movie attempted to capture, and gave some bonus points for creating an overall original experience (tough to do in today's derivative movie industry).
-Erik B. Scott