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Posts Tagged ‘Oblivion’

Before I post my top ten movies of the year later in the week here are ten surprisingly good movies:

White House Down: The best Whitehouse home invasion movie of the year and much better than this years entry into the Die Hard franchise.White House Down

Mama: Effective and surprisingly good horror movie with a great performance form Jessica Chastain.Mama

Flight: Denzel Washington is immense and the plane crash scene is stunning.flight

Spring Breakers: A mess of a movie but an interesting an good looking mess.Spring Breakers

Oblivion: Despite the flimsy plot this is still a very watchable sci-fi movie largely thanks to the cast: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko & Andrea Riseborough.OblivionThe Conjuring: James Wan’s horror is reminiscent of 70’s & 80’s horror and is all the better for it.The Conjuring

About Time: Richard Curtis’ time-travel rom-com is both funnier and less sentimental than I expected it to be.About Time

You’re Next: Another surprisingly good horror. It’s a little cheep and some of the acting is a little wooden but it gets away with it.You’re Next

The Counsellor: Don’t believe the reviews this is a great film that will people will come to like over time.The Counselor

Ender’s Game: Forget baggage and mixed reviews it is an entertaining and interesting movie.ENDER'S GAME

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Dead Man DownStar Trek Into DarknessMan of SteelFast and Furious 6The Great GatsbyOblivionMudByzantiumThe PurgeSpring Breakers

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Do you remember Deep Impact and Armageddon in 1998, Dante’s Peak and Volcano in 1997 or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Robin Hood in 1991? There are countless other examples, last year we had two takes on the Snow White fairytale with Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. Later in the year we will get to see how White House Down compares to Die Hard in the West Wing Olympus Has Fallen. Before that we have the recently released After Earth to pair up with Oblivion from earlier in the year:

The concept

Oblivion: In the future, one man (Tom Cruise) and his wife (Andrea Riseborough) remain on an abandoned earth to maintain the machines set to mine the planets natural resources.

After Earth: In the future, a man and his teenage son (Will Smith and Jaden Smith) crash land on an abandoned and inhospitable earth.

Oblivion and After Earth posters

The Talent

Oblivion: Despite a few missteps in recent years, Tom Cruise is still one of the biggest stars in the world as he has been since the late 80’s. the supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones) , but the standout performance comes from Andrea Riseborough who is nothing short of amazing in a limited role.

After Earth: The film is book-ended and contains flashbacks with other characters the film is largely a two character movie. The two are played by superstar Will Smith and his son Jaden who you may remember from The Karate Kid. The girl in the flashbacks is played by Zoë (daughter of Lenny) Kravitz last seen in X-Men: First Class.Oblivion & After Earth The Talent

Whose behind the camera?

Oblivion: With just his second feature Joseph Kosinski again shows the visual flare he showed with TRON: Legacy, but again shows a lack of depth in his character development.

After Earth: Newsflash, the Emperor is but fucking naked. M.

Night Shyamalan is not a good director. The Sixth Sense (1999) is just about the most overrated movie of the last twenty years. The Village (2004) is okay and Unbreakable (2000) is a decent film. The rest of his output is forgettable at best.Joseph Kosinski and M Night Shyamalan

The Good

Oblivion: The movie is set within a believable Sci-Fi world. The film is shot largely on location this is enhanced by visual effects rather than dominated by them, this helps it look amazing. The acting is generally good and as mentioned above sometimes amazing.

After Earth: The film looks good and the action scenes are practically well handled.

The bad

Oblivion: The plot and the characters all feel a little thin and the twists and turns in the plot are telegraphed to the audience.

After Earth: The dialogue is terrible at best. The plot is thin and full of holes.

The Similarities

The two movies are both set on a largely abandoned earth and feature megastar actors with something to prove.

The differences

Oblivion is largely plot driven and plays out with a combination action adventure and mystery thriller. After Earth is more like a computer game where one character has to achieve a task within a timescale.Oblivion & After Earth

The Verdict

After Earth isn’t a terrible film and doesn’t deserve the critical pounding it has received. That isn’t to say it is a great film, it is deeply flawed and gets away with a lot thanks to its short running time and well choreographed action. Oblivion is surprisingly good, the end is either perfectly executed or a contrived cop-out depending on your point of view.

The best abandoned Earth movie from 2103 is:oblivion-movie-poster

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Jack the Giant Slayer: The latest cynical attempt to craft a knowing, fun and funny film suitable for all the family from a fairytale. Like most of the previous attempts it is okay attempt, reasonable funny and entertaining but without anything original or exceptional.Jack the Giant Slayer

Dark Skies: Sci-Fi horror about a suburban family that will be very familiar to anyone who has seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies. Not bad but probably one to wait for the DVD or stream.Dark Skies

Spring Breakers: Satire or exploitation? Four young female college students looking for “a break from reality” head to Florida for spring break, there they meet Alien, a drug dealer, rapper and wanabee gangster. Depending on your point of view they get more than they expected and all they ever wanted. Not as hollow and meaningless as some would have you believe but not as edgy or subversive as the filmmakers would like you to think.spring-breakers-640x426

Papadopoulos & Sons: British comedy about a self made millionaire who loses everything and is forced to reopen the family fish and chip shop with his estranged older brother. Lightweight but well-meaning and enjoyable.Papadopoulos & Sons

Oblivion: Set in a dystopian future on an abandoned earth. It has its problems but it looks great and there is enough going on to entertain. Forget the anti Tom Cruise backlash he is actually perfect for the role although totally overshadowed by the mesmerising brilliant Andrea Riseborough who steals the film despite having a relatively small part.oblivion-andrea-riseborough

The Place Beyond the Pines: Splint into three distinct sections. As a whole the film is really good but its lasting impression suffers as each section is a little weaker than the one before. Taken on its own merits the contrivances of the plot are a problem but they rely on coincidence far less outlandish than many Shakespearian tragedy.The Place Beyond the Pines

Olympus Has Fallen: Basically its Die Hard in the White House. It has its problems chef amongst them is not casting an everyman in the lead. That and totally steeling its plot from Die Hard.Olympus Has Fallen aaron eckhart and gerard butler

Evil Dead: It doesn’t know if it wants to be a remake, a rebook, a reimagining or a sequel to the horror classic. It lacks the humour and the originality of the original on a positive note it does still manage to be repugnant and repulsive.Evil Dead

Iron Man 3: The perfect steppingstone between the first and forthcoming second Avengers movie. It ticks all the boxes and avoids all the pitfalls of Iron Man 2. I doesn’t quite live up to the first Iron Man and could do with having about ten minutes trimmed from the running time, mostly in the final act.Iron Man 3

I’m So Excited: Following The Skin I Live In was always going to be an impossible task, that’s why Pedro Almodóvar did the right thing by turning to a lightweight farce, or did he? While on the surface the movie is a silly and irrelevant comedy, not far below the surface is a cutting political allegory. Far from the directors best but still worth seeing.I’m So Excited

The Look Of Love: You never know what to expect from Michael Winterbottom and this biopic of Paul Raymond doesn’t disappoint. It starts well but losses its way towards the end. The casting is perfect, particularly Steve Coogan as Raymond.The Look Of Love

Iron Man 3 is probably the best film of the month, Oblivion was certainly the most pleasantly surprising but the movie of the month has to go to the one that is being talked about most and will probably have the most lasting impact. Surprisingly, the movie of the month is:spring-breakers-posters-slicespring-breakers

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The trailer for Oblivion makes it look like a routine Sci-Fi movie set on an sparsely populated earth in a post war dystopian future. This in itself is largely true, but the movie is far better than expected. Even allowing for this I didn’t intend to write about the movie but felt compelled to by the sniffy reviews and mixed word of mouth.

Approximately sixty years in the future Jack (Tom Cruise) and his wife Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are the last two humans on earth. The rest of humanity has relocated to Titan after the world was devastated in war with an alien race. The pair have been left behind to maintain the equipment used to harvesting the planet’s natural resources. After five years, they only have two weeks left, while Victoria is keen move to Titan, Jack can’t help feeling something is wrong.oblivion-tom-cruise-olga-kurylenko

The first thing that stands out about the movie is the way it looks. Just like director Joseph Kosinski’s other movie TRON: Legacy, Oblivion looks stunning. Unlike TRON: Legacy that is set in a computerised world, this movie utilises desolate real world sets in America and Iceland sublimated by CGI. The technology we see is very clean looking and very white and reminiscent of Ipods. The are also countless nods to other Sci-Fi movies, most notably 2001: A Space Odyssey. The plot however owes more to WALL·E, Silent Running, Moon and Saturn 3. Although Morgan Freeman is given second billing behind Tom Cruise, a lot of the film features just Cruise and Andrea Riseborough supported by Melissa Leo who appears only as a disembodied voice and an image on a video screen. They are later joined by Olga Kurylenko whose previous performances range from flat and misjudged in Quantum of Solace to mute but breathtaking and brilliant in Centurion. The whole cast is strong but the standout is Andrea Riseborough.oblivion-andrea-riseborough

Co-written, by the director Joseph Kosinski based on his own (unpublished) graphic novel of the same name, the movie isn’t a remake, reboot or sequel (and it isn’t in 3D) and it is all the better for it. The plot is a little thin and has the odd hole, but the overall it works and more than satisfies the conventions of storytelling and the genre. There are no holes so big or points so ponderous to alienate the viewer and take them away from the narrative. The characters are easy to empathise with helping the viewer be immersed in the story. There are numerous twists and turns in the plot, some you will see coming, others you won’t but none that you be confused by. Its this combination complexity and simplicity that makes the movie work so effortlessly. The end is either perfectly executed or a contrived cop-out depending on your point of view.Oblivion

How much you like the movie may depend on how much you like the genre but ultimately there is enough going on to keep all but the most jaded entertained. The bar has been set higher than expected for Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan’s seemingly similarly themed After Earth due out in the summer.

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As I’m sure you are aware tomorrow will see the end of the world. We survived the end of the world and at the end of 1999 and again on 21st. May 2011 just as our ancestors survived a previous predicted end of the world in 999. This latest End of the World relates to the Maya calendar, but which Maya calendar, I have heard of at least three different ones quoted and that’s before we get to all the new age bullshit. So what happens at the end of the world? To be honest the Maya doomsday theory is little more than the end of their calendar, and what happens when the calendar ends? A new one begins! The end (or near end) of the world is a subject many filmmakers have explored.

Like many movies on the subject, (plot spoiler) Planet of the Apes (1968) explores what happens to survivors after the end of a man made apocalypse. Mad Max (1979) and its sequels (1981 & 1985) is vague about the events that led to the end of the world as we know it instead concentrating on the increasingly crumbling society. The Terminator (1984) uses time travel to try and avert an apocalypse. Hardware (1990) is a story of a small group of survivors living in a city living off the scraps of the dead and decaying civilisation. The Matrix (1999) combines idea of all the above movies and uses glossy Sci-Fi as a juxtaposition to the grim reality of the dystopian future. We never really find out what exactly happened in The Road (2009) but the world is clearly dieing in this chilling and melancholic story.The Terminator

Averting the end of the world is a mainstay of sci-fi, like The Terminator (mentioned above) Millennium (1989) and 12 Monkeys (1995) resorts to time travel to try and save the world after the event. More proactive in their approach, Sunshine (2007) sees a team of astronauts attempts to re-ignite the dying sun. the opposite is happening in (the terrible) Knowing (2009) as solar flares from an overactive sun burns away the atmosphere and incinerates the surface of the Earth. Both films have religious themes in their ending. Melancholia (2011) turns the destruction of the earth as a metaphor for depression. The under seen Last Night (1998) forgoes explanation and simply tells us the world is ending and concentrates on how people spend their last day.sunshine

Roland Emmerich seems to be trying to corner the market in world destruction. After flirting with aliens in Stargate (1994) he went for all out alien invasion in Independence Day (1996). No sooner had we survived that than America came under monster attack from Godzilla (1998) (if you haven’t seen it, don’t bother, just go for the Japanese original 1954 Gojira). Then the weather struck in The Day After Tomorrow (2004) before the Maya doomsday prophesy of 2012 (2009).the day after tomorrow

Following in the footsteps of WALL·E (2008) two of the biggest and most bankable stars in Hollywood return to an uninhabited future earth. Oblivion sees Tom Cruise as a drone repairmen on an abandoned and devastated earth after a war with an alien race. In After Earth Will Smith’s return to earth isn’t planned. This time earth has been abandoned for a thousand years until Smith and his teenage son (played by his teenage son Jaden) crash land and have to fight for survival. My only reservation, it is directed by M. Night Shyamalan who I have been less than complimentary about, except the underrated Unbreakable (2000).After Earth and Oblivion

Lets hope we all survive the apocalypse and get to see them.

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