When I first saw the trailer for Oblivion, I thought it was based on a video game. Not a super promising start, although I did still want to see it. This video game anecdote is meaningless, essentially. Doesn’t go anywhere. I’m gonna leave it in.
I wasn’t expecting this movie to be good, but for some reason it grabbed my attention. When I didn’t have any field work on the docket Friday afternoon (a serious rarity for me), I knew it was time to take advantage. Solo mission to Court St Cinema.
Movies about space, the future, aliens, etc….these are well-traveled safe-zones for me. Throughout my life, whenever I couldn’t find anything to watch, I would take refuge in some mediocre Sci-Fi. It’s really easy for me to zone out and half-watch something that takes place in a space-station, or underwater lab, or some such. “Oh man, nothing on. OK, I guess I’ll watch Sphere.” My inner monologue has said those exact words many times in my life. Insert The Fifth Element, or Pitch Black, or practically anything with the word “Star” in the title. Event Horizon is one of my all-time faves. I’ve seen all those stupid underwater movies that came out around 1990 a dozen times or more. Gimme a shout if you ever want to watch talk Deep Star Six.
One might say I was predisposed to liking Oblivion. Or at least, to kinda liking it. It was a safe bet for me, in that way. Post-apocalyptic, earth abandoned, apartment in the sky with futuristic amenities. The framework was there.
Tom Cruise, though. Not my favorite actor. I find it a little strange that he’s still out there getting these roles, what with being a known lunatic and everything. I don’t even dislike him, per se, it’s just difficult for him to melt into a role at this point. I mean, we’ve seen this guy jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch, we’ve seen him doing a crazy Scientology recruitment video, we’ve seen his weird sham marriages. After seeing all that, am I really going to be seeing “Jack”(his character’s name) when I see this movie? No, I see Cruise. Thats all you can see.
He’s increasingly jacked in his old age too, which is kind of a bummer. I mean, every leading man is shredded now, thats just the game*. But Cruise has been in the game since before that was the norm, and its a little sad to see him getting on a steroid cycle just like all the new guys. After all this time, shouldn’t he be above that? It doesn’t look natural at all. He’s 50 years old and what, 5’5”?
*How/when did this become the norm? Its been a while, but when specifically, like what movie was the turning point? I don’t think we can just link this to Arnold, that was overt. Nowadays its presented as such a casual thing, as if everyone lift weights 5 times per week. “Yep, here’s Jack, just an average Joe, loves his girlfriend, eats at home, 9-to-5er. Totally shredded, just like everybody. Did we mention he wears a ball cap?” Maybe if these movies want us to believe the character is an average joe, they shouldn’t mandate gigantic biceps? Lets go back to the Costner/Kilmer/Quaid body type.
Is Cruise a bad actor though? I struggle with that. I don’t think he did a bad job with this. I never found my inner monologue mocking him or scoffing. Someone more low-key would’ve been better, but Cruise was fine. Maybe good, even, if you’re a fan of his.
Morgan Freeman was also in da how, of course, but the days of him eliciting any reaction from me are long gone. Good actor, same wise elder statesman role every time. Nothing new to see here.
In terms of pleasant surprises, it doesn’t get much better than my boy The Kingslayer. Was happy to see him show up, wielding weapons and looking handsome. I think he’s pretty good? Hard to say. None of the actors besides Cruise are allowed to do much, really. Still, nice to see a familiar face from Westeros every now and again.
I was hoping to be blown away visually, and frankly, I was not. A post-apocalytpic story provides a golden opportunity to use the ruins of humanity’s past glory as a backdrop. That potential went largely unrealized here. The football field scene from the trailer was one of the few attempts, and that did absolutely nothing for me. Borderline laughable, in fact. Just a regular guy remembering football games, you know? Helmet off, ballcap on. Reminiscing about how the crowd roared.
The Sci-Fi visuals, on the other hand, were pretty well done. The aforementioned sky apartment? Matty likey. In particular the pool, which was essentially a gigantic glass-bottom boat suspended in midair. I will have a pool like that one day, mark my words. I don’t care
who I have to kill how hard I have to work to get there.
I wasn’t expecting much of a story with this one, and I was actually pleasantly surprised on that front. Decent backstory*, decent twists, pretty well-executed I thought. Formulaic at times, maybe, but I was kept pretty interested. This was contrary to pretty much every review I’ve read. Must be that my tastes are next-level sophisticated.
*The aliens blew up the moon before they invaded, wreaking havoc with the tides and such. Has that ever been done before? I thought it was clever. Provided a cool visual throughout the movie, too. If I ever want to invade Earth, I’m most definitely going to attack the moon first.
Look, I’m not going to tell you to pay money to see Oblivion. If it ever hits the netflix/hulu/HBO circuit though, its worth a watch. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish watching Witness, starring my boy Harry Ford, and then hit the sack. I’ll check back in with you guys once I’ve seen the new Star Trek. There’s also talk of a retroactive* Hobbit review. Things are happening at the SFC!
*Words also considered here: posthumous, postmortem, punitive, retrospectical