21 April 2013



I... um...


This is a first.


As many of my frequent visitors are aware, I am a very opinionated person. I cannot help it when my brain analyzes a piece of work - fiction or not; book, movie, or video game - and starts picking through things that just don't sit right. Heck, even things that do sit right occasionally are targeted and probed until I feel satisfied. There are some things I can be lenient towards, and others I cannot. If a foreigner is struggling with communicating in English, I will do my best to be patient and considerate for them. If English is your first language and you turn in your final college-level Literature paper with txts rathr thn wurdz, you are simply an idiot. Yes, I am judgmental, opinionated, and blunt; that's who I am.

And this movie left me speechless.

And not in the good way.

As in, I had no damn clue what to think of this film. Even now, I still have no fucking idea. I can't even think of a proper rating for this piece of work.

...First Persona 3 broke me by killing off my favorite character. Now this film breaks my ability to critique. You have no idea how amused my dad was, watching my mouth gape open and shut with no sound coming out. I had a critical blue screen of death for several hours after Oblivion.

Now, I am alright. I was able to process some of this really, really tough steak and I think I can say a few things.

Simply put, Oblivion has fantastic presentation. The soundtrack is amazingly good, too good for a pre-summer blockbuster movie. I'd go so far as to say that I wish the Mass Effect trilogy has music as consistently awesome as this. The visual style and landscapes are sleek or beautiful or both. The futuristic deserted Earth is gorgeous to look at and sets the tone and mood perfectly. Excellent cinematography. Period.

But don't think that this movie just simply looks pretty. Without touching spoilers YET, the skeleton of the plot is smart and brilliant. The existence of the aliens, the war for Earth, everything that's left behind, conspiracy and amnesia: these ideas are all really well thought out as the story unfolds. There are several twists as more and more is revealed, but you don't truly feel that it's too "out-there" or "unrealistic". All the ideas tie together nicely and make sense. You feel so immersed in the world that feels lived-in, while still being abandoned, empty and destroyed.

More than anything, for a movie I was on the fence about because of Tom Cruise, I can recommended this to anyone who is curious. This sci-fi film is much better than last year's unholy abomination Prometheus. Dear superior being(s), PLEASE SEE THIS BEFORE CONSIDERING PROMETHEUS. This is a masterpiece in comparison!

So, Fangirl. Why does this film bother you so much?

Of course a review is all about opinions, but I must stress this: Fangirl is going to ramble. It's nowhere as insane as where my Persona 3 review went, but oh... this is still a little land mine.


The flesh on this skeleton is rotten, moldy, and infested with maggots.

It's one thing to have brilliant ideas. It's another to execute them well enough for the viewer to enjoy what is presented. Three chefs might have a cool idea for a desert, and each of them can make it look like a piece of art picture-worthy enough for the Louvre, the other nice enough for Olive Garden, and another so terrible that even McDonalds would refuse to take it. You might know how to read music, but that doesn't mean you can play classical pieces on the violin and make someone cry tears of joy.

After discussing the film with my dad, I do feel pretty bad about this film. I want to like it as much as him. I really, really do. We can both agree that many of the ideas were not well implemented... but I had even less patience for what did go wrong.

Poor Ms. Riseborough. Even she can't tolerate
her own character.
The characters are all unlikable. Tom Cruise simply has no idea how to interact with a female actress and have chemistry with her. So what should we do? Let's give him two! Victoria is painted as a shallow, bipolar bitch for no reason other than placing a sigh that says, "Jack, I might sleep with you constantly, but I'm gonna make sure you die if you f up the mission!" Julia is likable enough as a teary-eyed long lost love who's only around to wait for her hubby to come home and take care of the kid that comes out of nowhere to make a happily ever after.

Yes, I am sick and tired of the happily ever after crap if it is not truly needed or well developed. (Seriously, was the kid at the end REALLY needed? Since when the hell was she expecting anyway?)

As for Jack... he's a risk-taking guy who has no decency to follow basic rules of safety. Maybe my mind automatically went straight to gender roles in this film, but it pissed me off when Jack recklessly and stupidly dove head-first into trouble when even the brave guys I know would call him an idiot. Yes, his tricks are cool to look at, but I half-expected him to pull off a stunt and have the gods punish him to the point that he tries to be a bit more careful next time. ... ... And it never happens.

Jack is just an action hero character that I just could not deem likable at all. I appreciate that he frequently questions the bursts of memory that return to him out of the blue. I'd be questioning too. But from the beginning to the end, Jack felt flat: he never evolved. Maybe that's the point, given what he is in the state of the plot, but that's no excuse for a plastic bag to lead the show with nothing other than "memory issues" and "daredevil." Clearly, I'm in the wrong target audience.

Regardless, these are the only three characters I can talk about because no one else who does appear has a name or matters enough for you to care. Poor Morgan Freeman. He's supposed to be a character, but all he does is appear as a cameo with shoehorned "final act" moment that means nothing. I don't remember his name, he has no backstory, and he has no personality other than "Look, I'm Morgan Freeman!"

Wait. There is this one blond guy who hates Jack for the sake of being that one skeptic. I could care less since he had nothing to him. Sure he can hold a gun and save Julia in the most recycled way imaginable, but so what? I prefer my favorite turian sniper in Mass Effect, thank you very much. And there is a problem when I am begging him to pull the trigger when he holds Julia hostage earlier in the film. I just wanted something to happen for me to care about the pulseless cast. It was the least dramatic and the laziest scene I have ever witnessed.

As for the plot...

I apologize to every actor in this film.
Many of the twists are handled well enough for you to remain interest... but I saw them coming. After the second or third twist, I started rolling my eyes and sighing at how easy most scenes were to read. At some point I felt like the movie was raining cliches harder than The Cabin in the Woods did with its horror-flick satire. As much as Oblivion didn't bore me, it made some really stupid choices. The duplicate thing was predictable; refusing to let Julia make any impact other than to re-trigger Jack's memories was wasteful and boring; and making Victoria so cold, uptight, and unemotional until she throws a hissy fit once she knows Jack and Julia had a thing was really, really, really stupid.

And I found problems with one scene in particular.

Jack listens to a recording of how one human ship gets in contact with the alien ship at around 2017. Everyone save the pilots are in cryogenic sleep. The recorder documents everything that happened on the ship. Realizing that the alien ship might be a threat, one pilot plans to eject the module with the hibernating crew. Before doing so, he puts the recorder in that part of the ship with all the cryo pods. Once gone, we see what happens to the pilots and there's a flash of white. "End of recording." ...What.

How could the recorder know what was going on in the cockpit, when the recorder was with the cryogenic pods? It's one thing if it's a memory that plays from after the pods are released, but that's not what the movie showed. At all.

Not only that, but the module crashes back onto the planet sixty years later once a transmission tower sends a signal. Okay... so the pods were in space for sixty years... and the aliens never once bothered to check? I don't care if the humans were in a frozen coma... they are still alive and can be a threat. At the least the aliens could have captured the pods to prevent them from falling out of its satellite orbit and be released!

I shouldn't be this frustrated. I should just let this stuff go. It's a fun, sci-fi movie with a cool premise!

Well, I'm sorry. I couldn't enjoy it past the tropes and cliches I could smell a mile away. I couldn't overlook the flat, underdeveloped characters with no personalities. I can't bring myself to brush it off as "oh, it's just a sci-fi film that shouldn't be taken seriously!" The problem is... I can tell that this story has something really good to tell. It has a ton of promise to it! I can see how great the ideas are! If only they were placed in the hands of someone who could write better. Someone who could flesh out the characters enough for them to not be caricatures of role number 3, 4 and 6. I'm not asking for a dramatic opera with complex relationships. I want likable, relatable SIMPLE ones. I want these guys to talk like normal people, rather than have sudden mood swings that are erratic and make no sense without a good reason. (And, no, even before Victoria knew about Julia, she was still a clusterfuck of a "character".)

Do you know why I enjoy Mass Effect? The characters, even those who show up for one or two minutes, have cool things to say. They feel like people. And if they are important, I actually cared about them without speaking cryptically or too quickly for you to not get it. YES, the games provide a crapton of background content and an codex encyclopedia, but THEY are NEVER NEEDED. You can pick up a Mass Effect game and follow the plot without needing people to reexplain something that is easily spelled out.

If anything, Oblivion did not do the best job at explaining how the world worked. And when they did, it came from the mouths of faceless beings with no voice or opinion. Even poor Morgan Freeman couldn't get my ear to perk up and pay attention to everything. Everything simply feels somewhat rushed, and I'm someone who does not struggle to understand the BASIC plot of a piece of fiction.

At the end of the day, I'm still gonna recommend this. It's a fun movie, seriously. Don't let my bitching dissuade you if you want to try this out.

This simply just pissed me off more than I expected. And honestly, I would not want to touch this film again any time soon. I'll say, good try, thanks for the effort, but try again next time.

And at least it ain't Prometheus.

1.5 out of 5

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