Thursday, 11 April 2013

Oblivion (2013/US)

Julien Faddoul

0 stars

d -  Joseph Kosinski
w - Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt   (Based on the Comic Book by Joseph Kosinski, Arvid Nelson)
ph - Claudio Miranda
pd - Darren Gilford
m - Anthony Gonzalez, M.8.3.
ed -  Richard Francis-Bruce
cos - Marlene Stewart

p - Joseph Kosinski, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Duncan Henderson, Barry Levine

Cast: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau 

Oblivion is an incredibly stupid movie without a single ounce of life in it. If you have been going to the movies at all within the last five years you will notice within the first five minutes that almost everything in Oblivion – from the plot to the visuals to the movement to even the subtlest of actor and directorial gestures – is stolen from other, shockingly recent movies. If you have been enjoying movies for longer than that, God help you. I don't mean to overstate myself but I could not believe my eyes at how recycled the picture really is. This is a movie that should be tarred and feathered on grounds of theft.

Or maybe just the director. According to Joseph Kosinski, the man himself, the film “pays homage to science fiction films of the 1970s”. ‘Homage’ is a lovely little word, isn’t it? This is Mr Kosinski second film after TRON: Legacy. Remember that one? Well, this one is based on ideas and storylines from his original comic book.

Set after an alien invasion 60 years earlier which nearly destroyed the planet, as the blundering and forced first-person narration tells us at the film’s commencement, former Marine commander Jack Harper, played by Tom Cruise, is one of the last few drone mechanics situated on Earth. This is the second film in a row where Mr Cruise plays a Jack. Both films are certainly jack.

He lives in an aerial barbican fluctuating high above the Earth which he and his colleague, played by Andrea Riseborough (whom one can’t help but feel sorry for), are part of the operation to clean up the remaining forces of the invasion and extract the planet's residual resources. Nearing the end of his mission, Jack rescues a female stranger, played by Olga Kurylenko, from a crashed spaceship. She looks like Olga Kurylenko. And is as splendid to look at as Olga Kurylenko. Isn’t that peachy? And also, Tom Cruise is there.

After that, a whole cacophony of nonsense follows involving memory (again!), clones, deception, masquerading, shrouding mystery and Morgan Freeman (whose character is introduced through his voice, of course.) The “mystery” aspect of the film makes about as much sense as National Treasure (2004), and is as easy to decipher as one’s hands from one’s feet. But if you are extra, extra dim, have no fear because Jack will incessantly describe and narrate everything that is going on, both internally and externally, at every moment it is being done, or being thought, or being about-to-be thought, or being pre-thought, or being thought by someone else.

The look of the picture is ravishingly uninteresting. Not only because thematically it has been hacksawed from other movies, but also because of how restricted and bound the artistry on display really is. Oblivion is being marketed as an Emmerich-esque exterior feast, which is simply not true. Most of the film is shot in closeup, and on the occasion that Mr Kosinski decides to masturbate with pretty-postcard shots, they are more obviously studio-bound than The 39 Steps (1936). When I say studio-bound, I mean computerized, which renders any reaction to visual beauty redundant. If a film contains $120 million worth of pixels and is still dull, you have been jipped (I was informed after seeing the film that they did location shooting is Louisiana. I still feel the same.) And for great work by Claudio Miranda, I recommend purchasing Life of Pi (2012) on DVD instead.

Even Mr Cruise's performance seems to be stolen from old Tom Cruise performances. Rather than give a damn, he seems to be doing "The Tom Cruise". From his wearisome gazes to his veiny exclamations to his hot-potato run to his toothpaste commercial smile. You won’t find any liberation with the rest of the cast either. Melissa Leo literally phones it in. 

I can guarantee you with all my intelligence that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for Oblivion to exist. It is a $120 million appointment with a sperm bank and nothing more. Andrew Stanton, Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and others have all made films within the last five years that contain the same, but of a better standard. When the latest sci-fi picture is released, I certainly I do not expect to be reminded of Don Bluth’s great animated folly Titan AE (2000), which I preferred. I don’t know, maybe Cruise’s paycheck was too low or something.

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