Posted on 5/24/13 12:26 AM
Fast and Furious may be the most backwards franchise I'm aware of. You can give me any of the first four films and I simply won't care. Maybe it's the abysmally cheesy subplots and dialogue about family. Maybe it's the fact that the movies were originally porn for vehicle enthusiasts whilst I personally couldn't tell you anything about vehicles other than that you can use them to get places. With Fast Five however, came a fresh Director in Justin Lin with a slightly different vision for the franchise that maintained its core identity in cohesion with unapologetic high octane adrenaline fueled death-defying vehicular action. Fast 6 may not top that movie but it embodies that same philosophy resulting in one of the most exhilarating films of 2013.
Vin Diesal, Paul Walker, The Rock, Tyrese Gibbs, Ludacris, and more all once again return but this time the stakes are higher and more dangerous than ever. Owen Shaw leads an elite team of mercenary drivers whom somehow acquire a bomb that can blind a country for 24 hours. Already it sounds ludicrously stupid but it just doesn't matter here. Full pardons are in it for the crew if they successfully help Hobbs (The Rock) take Shaw down but on a more personal level, Toretto (Vin Diesal) will be set on a collision course with former lover thought dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). The plot is admittedly ridiculous and absurd with one too many ham-fisted scenes about the importance of family , but it's again drastically toned down paving the way (pun intended) for carmageddon and breathtaking stunts.
The action is relentless this time around with a healthy dosage of both physical and vehicular carnage. Upping the stakes are tanks, stylistically although exaggerated choreographed fight scenes, a few racing segments, and some cat-fights. There's also a truly preposterous final sequence that unapologetically defies the laws of physics but who cares, it's fun. Fast 6 may be just as outlandishly stupid as its predecessors but the aura of excitement coming from every punch, car-flip, and character interaction transcends the viewer into a fan. This is a movie that throws in WWE references for The Rock's character to successfully lighten the mood of the spectacle further regardless of the perilous situations our protagonists are tackling. When you finally inhale and let the mid-credits scene sink, you're only left foaming at the mouth for more despite the fact that you have just spent over 2 hours in an auditorium.
Comic relief also plays an advantageous role in keeping the film rolling along and Fast 6 brings it in spades giving multiple characters cracks at it. Counteracting those scenes are some legitimately emotional scenes towards the end that I sure as hell wasn't expecting. Fast 6 is a summer blockbuster jack of all trades that knows its role; be a fun movie while simultaneously embracing the fact that everything else is as dumb as rocks.
Posted on 5/23/13 12:10 AM
The Hangover became a classic instantaneously upon release and the popularity grew through rapid and persistent word of mouth. Having now seen The Hangover Part 3 I'm not sure the shocking barrage of bad decisions should have been a trilogy or if Director Todd Phillips even understands what propelled the original to become mainstream phenomenon among young adults. At the very least, someone out there understands that the general camaraderie between our three contradistinctive protagonists is a selling point. Sadly, it is the only selling point for Part 3.
Going in blind definitely works to the viewer's advantage so this critical analysis will not be going too far into it. Actually, all I am spilling is that Chow (Ken Jeong) has escaped a maximum security penitentiary and is wanted by a criminal overlord named Marshall (John Goodman). He captures the Wolfpack and holds the life of Doug as his ransom. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) set out to find a needle in a haystack. There's only one fatal flaw; there's zero inspiration from everyone involved to actually craft a comedy. Where are the obscene and lecherous but most crucial, unforeseeable situations the Wolfpack stumble into? It surely isn't here outside of admittedly the last 15 minutes. Even then there are still gripes because anyone anticipating Part 3 has most likely watched a trailer thus spoiling arguably the biggest laugh in the film. Souring the film further is a scene during the credits that essentially says "Thanks for your money sucker, this isn't a trilogy, here's the funniest scene in the film as a parting gift". The kicker is that the scene exemplifies the lewdness that audiences want simultaneously telling you that just paid $10 to watch Todd Phillips experiment storytelling techniques that blew up in his face.
There is no focus within Part 3. The movie flies off the rails merely minutes after it begins. The Hangover 3 is the equivalent of Todd Phillips watching Seven Psychopaths or In Bruges and embarking on a journey of "monkey see, monkey do". Part 3 ditches the formula of mystery and sober remembrance for crime comedy shenanigans that fall flat on their face. Absence of logic and general idiocy run rampant throughout every character. Alan's presence solemnly feels there solely to make them appear bright in comparison. The biggest sin to come out of this gigantic mess is some severe underutilization of John Goodman playing a villain. It's absolute gold in theory and probably in practice with someone more competent behind the film. Also, it is worth mentioning that every character featured in the trilogy awkwardly stumbles on screen for a cameo. I'm fairly certain the only instance it felt natural and dare I say brilliant, was with the reintroduction of Black Doug.
It may sound like I loathed and despised this supposed Wolfpack finale but once again; the camaraderie between our protagonists elevates the film into a tolerable position. The movie also gets some brownie points for a scene where Chow sings Hurt on karaoke. There's also a hint of sincere thematic friendship elements from the juxtaposition of Alan and Chow's characters which intrigued me but nothing ultimately came out of it. If you have enjoyed the company of the Wolfpack thus far or are one of the denizens of moviegoers clamoring for the formula to be stirred, you will probably enjoy Part 3 as well. I may have just spent 500 words trashing the film, but it's coming from a place of disappointment and frustration that these sequels could have been better than what we received. Oddly enough , the cliffhanger ending actually has me optimistic for a fourth film as aside from being the funniest scene in the film, it's reassurance that the team behind these films hold potential to create something as equally remarkable as the original film. The mid-credits sneak peek; that's what I want when watching a Hangover film. Todd Phillips can keep this disappointing experimental departure.
Posted on 5/15/13 10:50 PM
Trekkies around the world can release a sigh of relief if they were dreading that director J.J Abrams would tarnish the remake/ adaptation of the quintessential Star Trek plotline. Considering he accomplished wonders revitalizing the franchise with its predecessor I cannot fathom why anyone would doubt the man in the first place. I am pleased to report that Abrams and his team have gone above and beyond and haven't just crafted another exciting summer blockbuster to kill 2 hours with , rather a masterpiece of science fiction that deeply respects and indulges in the lore that defined a generation.
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) still has quite a bit of maturing and learning to do as he receives a demotion for disobeying orders whilst exploring another planet. Afterwards an attack is launched on the fleet that sends Earth to a state of crisis and shock. Themes of leadership and now friendship are on display at the forefront as our iconic heroes attempt to take down a vicious war criminal. Many characters and their respective actors return for the sequel including Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and more.
Into Darkness really separates itself from the rest of the pack though by treating its villain with respect and obtaining a subtle , quiet yet terrifying and cold performance from Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, he plays an iconic villain and Abrams and company could not have done a better job at treating him with the respect he deserves. Infamous lines are fed to Cumberbatch and he nails their delivery. If you often feel that blockbuster films are only as good as their villain then you're in for one hell of a treat. Sure, the motives are a little thin and nothing mindblowing; it's the delivery of the character that keeps the film consistently intense. The relentless onslaught of action amplifies the situations although what really feels refreshing is the variety in action sequences. You have your traditional gorge chases but you also are presented with ships going down , large scale battles in futuristic London , and numerous sequences involving familiar Star Trek weaponry. It's not all action though as the story is pretty captivating with multiple witty comedic quips that briefly lightens the mood. The story can really tug at those heartstrings though evoking strong emotions during the final 25 minutes. Somehow everything comes together and never feels tiring.
The visuals are obviously outstanding and I did see the film in Imax 3D. I'm never usually too enthused about 3D but isn't distracting here and pleasantly enhances the experience. The exotic locations throughout the film including scenes near an erupting volcano are stunning. The 3D manages to avoid clichés of random nonsense flying at the viewer and instead excels with a more subtle approach. Abrams has also opted to bring back known collaborator Giacchino to provide an outstanding soundtrack that compliments the classic Star Trek also used throughout the film.
If Star Trek: Into Darkness falters anywhere it's only minor nitpicks. Why is J.J Abrams obsessed with lens flare? It's here in an overabundance as usual and again distracting. There are a couple plot tidbits that newer Trekkies might not immediately grasp but never anything plot breaking. My only other nitpick is a feeling of detachment going from the final battle to the ending. Some really diehard Trek fans might not appreciate a few minor changes either but they ultimately don't affect anything and instill a feeling of refreshment. One slight change in particular drastically further empowers the overarching theme of friendship. At its core though, Into Darkness is a passionately crafted piece of Trekkie fanservice that simultaneously is a fantastic film that will no doubt stand fairly high even as 2013 closes.
Posted on 5/14/13 09:30 PM
It's only fair to preface this review by admitting that I have not seen Primer nor am I familiar with Shane Carruth in general. Going into Upstream Color though I did have an obtuse idea of what I was getting myself into. Traces of someone like Terrence Malick or David Cronenberg are here in spades. Putting it into simpler terms before delving into the odyssey of strangeness, Upstream Color works. It may not click with viewers immediately but Shane Carruth (whom also stars, writes, producers, and scores) has a clear vision of themes and questions he wants to propose us with. Upstream Color is an emotionally moving film largely centered on free will and why we make the choices we make or feel how we feel during the moment.
Kris is implanted with an ageless parasite against her will. This parasite somehow retroactively causes the persona responsible verbal control over the victim. This persona is known to the audience as simply "The Thief". This thief then scams the victim out of money and sends them on their way. Kris then meets a character titled "The Sampler" who extracts the worm from Kris and then into a pig. Now here's where things get weird, err... stranger than they already are. The Sampler can psychically link with the pig that now carries the organism to for lack of a better word, stalk the original victim. Kris meets Jeff and they are unexplainably drawn together due to both having been experimented on. Together they go through various trials and tribulations in their relationship but ultimately want to understand the connection between them and the parasites.
Different people will come away with different interpretations which is what makes Upstream Color fascinating. On the surface it appears completely absurd but everything works. Despite the viewer abstractly being left in the dark there's multiple scenes that showcase raw emotion that have no bearing on whether you're completely grasping the plot. There are multiple themes ranging from love, free will, parenthood, and more that consistently keep the movie refreshing and briskly moving along.
The movie also features a hypnotic dreamlike score by Shane Carruth that wonderfully compliments the artistic tone of the film that often relies on subtle imagery and a strong visual narrative to carry the film. Carruth uses some very interesting cinematography as well with various angles and other tricks. It's very easy to be thoroughly entertained by the sights and sounds accompanying individual scenes without ever fully understanding the overarching motifs.
I do feel that a slightly more accessible narrative would have helped the film though and that for all the time I was mesmerized there were also times of stagnation in the plot. Even though the movie itself is emotional, it never really resonates with the viewer or reaches its full potential. I enjoyed Upstream Color and everything Carruth wanted to present the viewer, but at the same time I don't feel a craving to rewatch it or dig for a deeper understanding. Upstream Color is certainly well crafted and has its moments but it also isn't anything truly special in my eyes. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder though which is a saying I think accurately represents the varying mileage different movie goers will get from Upstream Color.
Posted on 5/10/13 12:39 AM
Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo Dicaprio (Romeo and Juliet) have teamed up again for another anachronistic voyage full of extravagant style. The Great Gatsby is a film that will ultimately split critics and audiences alike but where everyone has to give some credit is that for an adaptation, it hasn't bastardized anything but remained faithful. Sure, the anachronistic soundtrack (which actually nearly completely dissipates by the beginning of act 2) will instantaneously turn some viewers away, there are those that will blissfully bask in the stylistic experience.
Gatsby (Dicaprio) is an extremely wealthy man that hosts extravagant parties aloft his mansion. The attendees have never seen the man nor would they even know him if they saw him. Every detail about Jay Gatsby including his journey to prosperity is a fanatical mystery. Everything changes when Nick (Tobey Maguire) recognizes Gatsby as a World War 1 comrade. Soon after we learn that the whole celebratory parade is actually a façade to impress Daisy (Carey Mulligan). To stir the pot even more, she's a married woman to Tom (Joel Edgerton) who is committing adultery. It's a story most of our younger generation is familiar with due to the novel selected as required reading, but where the story really excels is takings the words on the paper to the screen.
The film isn't without faults though. The first act can feel like a cacophony of glitz and glamour with rushed character exposition. It's overly self-indulgent and almost frustrating to watch. As the core plot is set in motion, the movie thankfully gains a strong sense of focus. Despite this a reoccurring annoyance is also the underdeveloped characters that aren't Gatsby. For a narrator and outsider caught within the drama Nick really doesn't do much besides watch in the background emotionless despite playing a character who is supposedly frustrated with bottling up the secrets of the cast. The aforementioned adultery subplot gets a staggeringly short amount of time which is a shame since it's also pivotal and relevant to the core plot. Acting is sporadically hit or miss unfortunately. Maguire and Mulligan just don't frequently feel up to snuff while Dicaprio and Edgerton nail their roles creating a dissonance between your level of investment during the more tense and suspenseful scenes. Back to Dicaprio, he truly does give an exceptional performance as always but a specific scene with him and Edgerton playing off each other is explosively dynamic and steals the film.
The Great Gatsby ultimately comes together as a great film though due to immense respect for the source material even going out of its way to keep in the symbolism, major plot points, and overarching themes. All the shocking moments are thrown on screen with a sense of passion and creativity regardless of your attitude towards Luhrmann's distinct style. Who says it's impossible to stylistically give a classic American novel a proper and entertaining modern touch while retaining the core aspects that we remember it for today? It may not be perfect but it's certainly fun to get lost in.
Posted on 5/03/13 02:16 AM
Tony Stark is back after putting on a clinic of box office and alien domination in 2012's superhero mash-up The Avengers. If you haven't seen Iron Man 1 or 2 don't worry as the only events this film acknowledges come from The Avengers. Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) is at the helm this time around but what's more noticeable is just how different Iron Man 3 feels from its predecessors and consequently why it fails in more ways than one.
Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the wise-cracking arrogant smart-ass Tony Stark. Sometime after the events of the Avengers, Tony began periodically having anxiety attacks that he thinks have something to do with exposure to a worm hole. The plot arc never really goes anywhere but I get the feeling that it's mostly meant to be some plot exposition for the upcoming Avengers sequel.Regardless, the anxiety attacks coupled with the events in The Avengers in general have instilled a sense of paranoia in Tony. For example he is now overly obsessed with creating an abundance of Iron Man suit models to the point where his relationship with Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow) is dissipating and crumbling unbeknownst before his very eyes. Making matters even more dangerous is a terrorist whom goes by the title Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) frequently hacking into televisions around the globe spreading his message whilst sending threats. Aforementioned threats are being delivered as bombs that leave no trace of evidence. Scientists from before Stark's supervillan battling days are also mysteriously cropping back up into his life with their dubious and deceitful leader played by Guy Pearce. War Machine although now dubbed Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) and Happy (Iron Man 1 and 2 director Jon Favreau) also return.
The recipe is one for success but unfortunately nothing ever functions together. Iron Man 3 certainly has some dazzling and spectacular action sequences and even some hilarious trademark witty writing, but nothing about the plot is coherent. Putting something into perspective, I do not read comics but actually feel insulted anyway at the portrayal of The Mandarin. The pivotal twist is centered on the character and respectfully does attempt something different, but ultimately comes off as frustrating. Also present are instances of plot inconsistencies that unfortunately will leave you scratching your head. The action may cover it up but for those watching with their brain on, it's in plain sight.
The entire middle act of the film spanning roughly an hour feels absolutely superfluous featuring meaningless subplots where Tony Stark attains a child sidekick. Sure, some funny bits come out of it but in the grand scheme these scenes are pointless and a perfect referencing point to the incoherent randomness that is this entire second act. The Avengers had comedy but Joss Whedon understood and nailed the timing. Iron Man 3 contains immersion shattering comedic attempts during its final showdown. The tone is tipped so far from action to comedy that at times Iron Man 3 feels like a version of Hancock that just swaps Will Smith for Robert Downey Jr.
If you enjoy seeing spectacular action and were interested prior to reading this, you still should go see Iron Man 3. You just absolutely have to go in only wanting to see action as the film disappoints in every other aspect. Even so, it's hard to imagine the terrible twist and sluggish second act not dragging the film down for anyone. Iron Man 3 is, dare I say it the Spiderman 3 of the trilogy.
Posted on 4/28/13 09:41 PM
The city isn't the only thing broken in this Noire political thriller flick. It's the script penned by Brian Tucker that just winds up being one of the most illogical, predictable, and convenient scripts in recent memory. What hurts most about Broken City though is that you can't help but notice potential for a great film to come out of the premise in more competent hands. Instead the script of Broken City reads like a rough draft that no one felt like proofreading or refining. It almost feels as if was rapidly written in one sitting and never looked back on when you examine some of the strange subplots within the movie that have absolutely no bearing on the story.
Mark Wahlberg plays Billy Taggart, an ex-cop turned private detective. Money isn't coming in so hot but it's hard to cope with a character that private investigates without getting the money upfront. Nevertheless he is owed a favor by Mayor Nick Hostetler, a soft-spoken, shady, and crooked politician played by Russell Crowe. What begins as a simple task to obtain incriminating evidence of Nick's wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) caught in the act of adultery spins into a much larger mystery. All of that can be gathered from the trailer but to shed some light on how slow the plot of Broken City moves, it takes around 50 minutes to reach this point. The following twists and turns that follow are dull and feel taken straight out of a scam self-help book on how to create political thrillers. I actually wish the entire movie was just about adultery since where the plot goes is painfully stale.
There's also an extremely odd subplot involving Billy's girlfriend whom is an actress for Indie films. These scenes are the usual love subplot nonsense except Director Allen Hughes seems to be trying and failing miserably to use Billy's character as an outlet to mock the Independent scene as a whole. The scenes and dialogue are very awkward to watch but most importantly are so detached from the core plot that it is dumbfounding that the subplot stayed in. One of the scenes in particular is at a private screening of the film where Billy gets upset that his girlfriend took part in a racy sex scene and ends up drunkenly fighting the director who is of course portrayed as smarmy and snobbish wearing unconventional clothing. I have no idea why this was in the movie but it certainly rubbed me the wrong way. If Allen Hughes has issues with the conducting of the Independent scene than create a movie solely about it. Shoehorning some commentary into your political thriller makes you look childish and unfocused as a director.
Getting back to what the movie was intended and promoted as, the film is decently acted but nothing can save it from the terrible writing and disjointed story. The ending is exceptionally bad though and a huge slap in the face featuring one of the most uneventful, boring, and tame climaxes of all time. It's a shame that a movie with such great acting talent became ... this.
Posted on 4/25/13 11:18 PM
As the film is steamrolling to its conclusion during the peak of its insanity the film freezes. A text blurb pops up reminding us "This is still a true story". Those 3 frozen seconds speak volumes about Pain and Gain but are most importantly a testament to how off the wall and flabbergasting the film is. It is a true story though. It's twisted and beyond black to a point where we need scientists to conduct an experiment that creates a new color because "Black Comedy" is sunshine and rainbows compared to this film. Pain and Gain is essentially something similar to Fargo mixed with the Three Stooges.
Michael Bay may not be the most mature filmmaker out there but that's ok here as Pain and Gain feeds off the "Bay humor" that 85% of the time is in synchronization with the sheer absurdity of the plot. The premise can simply be summed up by saying "bodybuilders kidnap a rich dude and extort his money". The characters are what make everything click together though. Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg) is hardheaded and overly ambitious. Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) is a former prisoner/coke-fiend who found Jesus after serving his time. Adrian (Anthony Mackie) may seem like the token black guy but in actuality is a brilliant satirical character of the effects of performance enhancing drugs. Together they are one of the most unexpected, unpredictable, and boneheaded trios of all time that make the story work.
Some viewers may find themselves appalled at the exploitation of some truly stupid, cruel, and deplorable people but that's also the punch-line. Bay pulls no punches or tricks, but rather shows us three unlikable protagonists that can't reach the bottom of the rabbit hole of stupidity. Yes, it's all juxtaposed with some gratuitous violence and legitimately shocking scenes but that amplifies the tone of everything the film wants to be. I fully understand that some won't be able to stomach the content but it's unapologetically the films strongest aspect.
There are some annoyances though mostly coming from Michael Bay's immature attempts at comedy that have nothing to do with the film. Michael Bay made a good movie but he is also the reason it's not a great movie. Shades of his attempts at humor throughout his Transformers trilogy are blatantly in your face and unnecessary. Thankfully the scenes are usually over within seconds. Nobody needs to see sex scenes with Rebel Wilson clothed or not. There is context within some of these instances but subtlety is a wonderful tactic that Bay apparently hasn't heard of. Hell, there are even some scenes pointlessly shot in slow motion. Do I really need to see spit fly when someone is hit by a car?
Utilizing and rotating every major character for narration was one of Bay's more intelligent ideas but unfortunately Dwayne Johnson was an obvious weak link. Despite that minor misfire the acting is actually believable. When feces really hit the fan Wahlberg steps up and shows his mentally unbalanced side as he snaps on characters in deranged fashion. Tony Shalhoub and Ed Harris are also is in the film delivering great performances.
Finally, I have to unfortunately admit that the final 30 minutes can get so fast paced it can become somewhat challenging to follow it all. It's still ultimately entertaining but I can't help but feel scenes started to get cut left and right on the editing room floor to either maintain momentum or shorten the film. Regardless, there is virtually to time to exhale until the climax as the events become so ludicrous that the film once again, has to actually remind the audience it's still a true story.
Is Pain and Gain Michael Bay's best film? Absolutely. Bay is so out of his comfort zone that even people coming away despising the film have to admire his ambition. I only hope we see more of this side of him in the future.
Posted on 4/23/13 07:20 PM
Derek Cianfrance's debut film Blue Valentine was nothing short of a masterpiece with an elevated impact due to my own personal experiences with the themes. That film hit me in the gut very hard emotionally and I have since then told myself, "I'm seeing everything and anything this director does!". Cianfrance seems to enjoy telling stories deeply rooted in reality that we may or may not be able to relate too. The Place Beyond The Pines may not be as powerful as Blue Valentine , but it's still a very riveting three act tale about morality and the consequences of our actions that inevitably get passed down from generation to generation.
Ryan Gosling ( Blue Valentine, Drive) plays Luke, a deadbeat dad with good intentions but also lacks direction in life. He thinks that by successfully robbing banks and raking in dough , he can provide for his family while simultaneously stealing his one night stand lover back from another lover. This results in a crossover with a rookie officer named Avery ( Bradley Cooper) who is surrounded by a corrupt department. Shocking no one , one of those corrupt officers is played by veteran genre actor, Ray Liotta.
Everyone in the film gives a powerful performance full of conflicting and bottled up emotions . Critics of Gosling always playing a stoic, emotionless, and quiet character will enjoy and embrace seeing him out of his element as he hollers and shouts his way through bank heists. Coming off of a fantastic performance in Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper arguably steals the show with an even superior performance truly showcasing that he has range beyond The Hangover.
Although Pines has a brilliant story , it's weaved together in an ambitious and unconventional way that may turn some people away. To further expand on the creative structure Cianfrance opted for would result in revealing far too many and significant spoilers. I will say this though ; although the story is fantastic the movie climaxes roughly 50 minutes in and consistently loses steam while momentarily gaining some back for certain scenes. To say that the movie becomes a bore would be exaggerating too far in the opposite direction though. Viewers should just be prepared for a slow burn film that opts for a story about how events affect characters around them rather than a typical narrative. Also , at a running time of 140 minutes I found myself actually wishing the film was longer. Pines is so broad in scope that some events feel rushed with certain characters getting glossed over. Hopefully Cianfrance has a directors cut in the works to even out the flow and expand on the complex characters.
Despite those minor setbacks I highly enjoyed the film and sincerely recommend it to anyone who enjoys watching movies about lifelike characters and situations that we can possibly relate too. That appears to be Cianfrance's motivation and what can I say, he's hitting home runs.
Posted on 4/19/13 09:08 PM
If you had asked me what my thoughts were on Oblivion around the halfway mark I would have had some scathing comments. Somewhere during that second half though it stops with the tropes and predictable plot twists all whilst picking up steam and ending on a high note. Atleast the movie always looked visually stunning during those meandering and boring stretches.
Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, a drone repairman that also scavenges supplies for survivors living on another moon after Earth is destroyed by aliens. Earth actually won the war, but the war itself took a toll on the country leaving it a barren wasteland. For mysterious reasons Jack has had his memory wiped yet a woman ( Olga Kurylenko) haunts his dreams almost as if she knows him. When not on his mission Jack is living in a tower high in the sky with his lover Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) as they await the swiftly approaching date where their mission is considered complete and are allowed to go home.
That plan crumbles apart when survivors land on Earth and provoke Jack to delve into what is really going on. Being hunted by aliens is just the cherry on top of the cake. Tom Cruise does an exceptional job as portraying Jack as a vulnerable survivor. Scavenging and exploration scenes are often solely suspenseful as Cruise cautiously moves around corners , readies his weapon while traversing dark areas, and convincingly plays a survivor in general.
The effects are outstanding featuring very large in scope landscapes such as deserts , glacial ice, and sky-storms. There are also nifty futuristic aerial vehicles shaped like a bubble with a cockpit. Most other technology in Oblivion is fairly standard and not particularly exciting though. Instead it's the visuals and excellent sound design that accelerate the intensity.
The only unforgivable flaws found within Oblivion are the aforementioned predictability and pacing problems. The first hour will have viewers deflated and watching in hopes that it's not as cliche as everything appears. Even when the movie does get interesting there still aren't any memorable action sequences which is a crying shame. That doesn't mean there isn't a climax though. It may contradict what I am saying but the final 45 minutes of Oblivion are mind-bending and fast-paced climaxing with one of the most memorable confrontations in recent Sci-fi memory. Tom Cruise also definitely accentuates the plot dilemmas with his brilliant acting and various displays of emotion.
If Oblivion had a tighter script and more fluid editing I'd be hailing it as a masterpiece that takes elements from science fiction lore and mixes them to create lightinng in a bottle. Instead , we have 1/2 snores, 1/2 excitement. Atleast Tom Cruise still has it though.