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He Said, She Said Review Site

Oblivion

What He said:

He

I remember when I saw the first images of this movie.  I think one picture was of Cruise’s character staring out into the vast wasteland that was Earth. Another was of his ship if I remember correctly. Something about them just kind of grabbed my attention. I found them to be quite clean and sleek.  Plus, there’s a lot of bad sci fi out there, so whenever something that is good – or looks even remotely interesting – comes along, I am obligated, as a nerd, to pay attention.

When reviews came out, they weren’t so hot. They weren’t calling it the worst review ever made, but they were rather “meh” to the whole thing. I was still interested in seeing it, because I thought it looked decent enough and  I was impressed by the visuals.  

It’s the year 2077 and aliens have already attacked. It’s ancient history. They invaded, humanity fought back and actually won, but at great cost. The planet has seen better days. In order to defeat the alien invaders, the humans nuked the planet, destroying its value (the aliens came here for resources) in the process. Most of humanity has fled to one of Saturn’s moons. While they are enjoying their new lives on Titan, a few humans have stayed behind to harvest the few remaining resources.

There are these giant machines all over the planet that harvest all the water from the oceans, which they later plan on converting to energy. There are still alien survivors – referred to as Scavs – scattered throughout the Earth and they attempt to destroy these machines as revenge for humanity’s victory against them. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) repairs the drones that protect these harvesting machines. They are these sphere shaped machines that can fly and have some badass guns attached to them, and they will annihilate anything that threatens the harvesters.

Oblivion

Jack works with a partner. Her name is Vika and she stays behind to monitor and guide him while he’s out in the field repairing any damaged drones. Vika (Andrea Riseborough) and Jack seem to have both a professional and personal relationship. Jack does the dirty work, while she serves as his eyes and ears. Oh, and there are some people up in space who assist them, and will take them to Titan when their mission is complete; which is about two weeks away.

The last few times Jack has gone out to do his job the danger level seems to have increased. The Scavs have been attacking on a more regular basis, but he can’t figure out why. Are they just desperately grasping at straws before the last of humanity leaves for good or is there some larger agenda? Vika doesn’t seem to care and just wants Jack to do his job and not make any noise. She’s worried that if he inquires too much he’ll jeopardize the mission and anger their superiors in space. She’s right. Sally – the gal who has been giving them orders and assistance from the base in orbit – agrees to help them, but isn’t happy about it. She (Melissa Leo) urges them to get the job done and get the hell out of there, so they can all go to Titan.

Some of the complaints I have heard about this movie were that it wasn’t very original. Were there elements of other sci fi movies present in this movie? Yes, but that’s like saying Twilight and Underworld are similar movies because both have vampires battling werewolves. It’s really a very weak criticism in this movie reviewer’s opinion. Plus, I can honestly say there is no single prior work that has the same story. It’s not like when you watch Avatar and immediately think of Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas. Even if it was eerily similar to something else, I found the execution to be well-done.

I thought the visuals were fantastic. There are tons of bad special effects out there anymore, so when I see something that looks good, I appreciate it. I loved the look of the drones, Jack’s ship, and some of the costumes. I don’t know if the environments were digital or practical, but they looked pretty damn real to me, unlike a lot of other movies out there. There are so many movies where it is blatantly obvious someone’s standing in front of a screen.

Did I see one of the twists coming? Yeah, but it was a minor one, and I only guessed a part of it, so it’s not like it ruined the movie for me. Aside from that, I found the story interesting, even if I saw other elements of other movies. I was definitely interested enough to where I was trying to figure out what was going on. It was an entertaining ride that kept me involved, and I was satisfied with the outcome when it was all said and done.

Oblivion stars Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, and  Melissa Leo.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on August 27, 2013.

Oblivion

 

What She said:

She

Despite all his weirdness, I try really hard to like Tom Cruise, and usually with much success.  I approached Oblivion with a positive attitude because Cruise has historically excelled in a sci-fi setting.  I was therefore left somewhat disappointed with the movie.  Oblivion is not a total stink-fest by any means, but I wasn’t as captivated as I had hoped to be, and as the movie wore on, I found the story to be more and more mundane and transparent.  That said, Oblivion does have a lot to offer, as it is rich with spectacular special effects and Cruise does a good job as an actor.  I just wish he was given a little more to work with ala War of the Worlds.

Oblivion takes us into the future, where the Earth has been destroyed by war with alien visitors.  As it’s explained, we “won” but we also lost because we nuked around so much that the planet was left uninhabitable.  All the peeps boarded ships and traveled to Saturn’s moon, Titan, and the Earth is left to be farmed for its natural resources.  Cruise plays Jack Harper (not to be confused with Jack Reacher), a repairman who travels from a space station orbiting the planet down to Earth each day to make sure all the machines are well in order.  Of course, it’s not all peaches and cream, as there are some “scavs” hanging around on the irradiated planet.  These beings, presumably alien, are constantly trying to capture and kill the workers like Jack.  Fortunately, Jack and his partner Vika are just a few weeks away from completing their assignment and heading back to Titan.  But Jack seems to have a soft spot for Earth.  It should also be mentioned that both Jack and Vika had their memories wiped at some point.  I don’t really remember the rationale, maybe so that emotions couldn’t get in the way of their work?

Oblivion

Anyway, Jack and Vika work for “the man,” and seem pretty content with this, until one day a very special person shows up that throws Jack for a loop.  He begins to make some revelations that have him questioning his true allegiance.  He also is dealing with memories that are coming to him in dreams and in flashbacks.  So much is riding on Jack’s shoulders, and you have to wonder if he can handle it all. 

As mentioned, Oblivion has some top notch special effects.  Planet Earth as presented here looks amazing, albeit deserted and somewhat dismal.  The He questioned how much of the movie may have been sets versus CGI.  That’s not entirely clear to me, but due credit should be given to the moviemakers for creating a visual masterpiece.  However, there were certain elements of this world that I wasn’t so in love with.  I found some of the machinery to be a little cheesy and cliché for the genre.  I think that’s a bit of a reflection of the broader issue of I have with this movie.  I felt like many elements of the film were just borrowed from elsewhere.  Not enough attention was given to making this story truly unique.  It was more about the visuals and the drama of it all than what was actually going on.  I kind of felt like I had seen it all before.  The supposed plot twists did not surprise me one bit, and I actually can cite other movies that they were potentially lifted from.   

This is all an absolute shame, because I think that Tom Cruise actually did a very good job acting in this film.  I wasn’t as impressed with the other performers, including Morgan Freeman, who seems to say yes to any work nowadays.  It was all just pretty standard and stereotypical, which are generally the words that I would use to describe this film overall.  Cruise is the bright spot in what was otherwise a fairly stale premise.  Again, kudos on the graphic execution, but if you wrap poo up in a pretty box, you still open it up to find poo.

Thumbs a quarter of the way up.

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