Sunday, October 27, 2013

Short Cut Movie Review: Oblivion

Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.

Oblivion is a movie that looks almost perfect in terms of production design and visual effect. It deftly recalls and references several science fiction classics, but then fails to live up to the standards set by those that came before.

Tom Cruise is Jack Harper, a technician working to repair battle drones on earth that are in place to defend some big energy-producing machines from attack by Scavs, an alien race that lost a war with humans several decades ago. He explains everything in a narration that precedes the title. If you miss anything, don’t fret because it is all repeated almost verbatim later in the film as dialogue between Jack and Beech (Morgan Freeman), the leader of a band of humans found to still be living on earth.

Jack’s partner, in both work and personal relations, is Vica (Andrea Riseborough). They hope to complete their mission so they can go to live with the rest of humanity on one of Saturn’s moons. Vica is a stickler for rules and procedures. She answers to mission control, manned by Sally (Melissa Leo). Certain details seem to be guarded secrets. Jack is curious by nature. Why does he feel so drawn to earth? Why did humans have to leave if they won the war? Why does he dream about warm embraces with a strange woman (Olga Kurylenko) on top of the Empire State Building, which was destroyed 60 years ago, long before he was born?

Apart from some of the film being largely derivative of The Matrix, there’s great potential in the story. Unfortunately the screenplay by Michael Arndt and Karl Gajdusek, based on director John Kosinski’s graphic novel, is rife with logical inconsistencies and perplexing decisions. I think they don’t entirely understand the science behind cloning. Let me just say that clones are actually separate entities. They are different beings entirely. They don’t have shared memories. The bottom line is this movie that obviously had a lot of investment poured into the effects to make earth into a smoldering wasteland would have been better served by a $10 an hour lackey to comb over the screenplay for logic.

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