Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Oblivion - The scoop and digest


Heavy duty hype and a mooted blockbuster follows Cruise Control just like a vulture hones in on tasty carrion.

With a generous slice of sci-fi action, a budget of millions and Morgan Freeman, this should belt out more quality than the average high street speaker. 

Does this deserve to be consigned to its title or have less flaws than an exceptional jewel following a bank heist?

Plot details and/or spoilers will be sent by the Tet.

Those experiencing another day in paradise include:

Tom Cruise – Jack
Olga Kurylenko – Julia
Morgan Freeman – Beech
Andrea Riseborough – Victoria
Melissa Leo – Sally
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau – Sykes

The year is 2077.

Earth has been decimated by Scavengers (Scavs) who left their dying planet to invade ours.  The war was won but not before the moon was destroyed along with most of Earth.

However, the remainder of Scavs still cause a nuisance…

Of the survivors, Jack (Tech 49) and assistant Victoria (affectionately known as ‘Vikar’) are stationed thousands of feet above in a tower.  They are assigned for drone maintenance and for extracting essential resources from Hydro Rigs.

Orders are barked via video link from Sally, who resides in the Tet.  The mop-up crew are apparently due to join Earth’s other survivors at Titan when the mission is completed.

Throughout the film, Jack is plagued by flashback and recurring dreams of the past.

Although they have firepower of their own, weapon equipped drones cover their asses against possible Scav attack.

Jack gets from A to B using his bubble ship and remains in contact with Vikar when performing manual labour.

These floating assists need a bit of TLC after been shot down by Scavs and that’s when Jack comes in.

We first see a teasing glimpse of the enemy when a hole is investigated and after some gunfire and horsing around, a drone secures the situation.

After some horsing around and general bullshit, those pesky Scavs bring down a spaceship (later revealed as the Odyssey) after setting up a homing beacon mounted on a still standing landmark.

Various sleep pods are scattered about and it appears that drones malfunction as they open fire on the snoozing survivors.

Jack makes the best of a bad situation and drags a pod to safety.  Shortly after waking from delta sleep, a brief explanation of the past sixty years and the current situation is delivered by Jack.

She reveals herself to be Julia and immediately rings a bell with Jack’s flashbacks

Julia insists that she goes back to the crash site to retrieve the craft’s flight recorder but uh oh, they are captured by Scavs.

Scavs are not aliens, but instead a band of freedom fighters led by Beech, who have taken refuge in an underground stronghold.

He asks Jack to bring a recently captured drone back online to attack the Tet but Tech 49 refuses.

It’s cool as ice though because Beech allows them both to leave to discover ‘the truth’ that exists beyond deadly radiation zones.

One of his cohorts Sykes scoffs at this but the cigar chomping Beech believes he may be ‘different’.

Titan is a sham, they lied to you Jack and I’m really not lying that Morgan Freeman has starred in so much better...

Julia reveals to Jack that not only did she crash in a NASA shuttle, but he’s looking at his trouble and strife, a revelation that stuns him rigid.

After consulting with the results of flashback analysis, he knows it to be true.

Back at the tower, Vikar is pissed and informs Sally they are no longer an effective team.

Sally remotely activates a drone that kills Vikar and before they scarper in bubble ship, he refuses to bring Julia to the Tet.

After shaking off several drones, they have themselves a little accident and crash in a desert.

To bombard Jack’s confused mind even more, he comes up close and personal with Tech 52 - a clone of himself.

Jack subdues the clone and escapes in 52’s ship, sensibly using his noodle by identifying himself as Tech 52 to fool the host machine.

SNES owners will remember they had to frequently do this by using a convertor to play an imported game.

Having discovered the truth, he returns to Beech and seeks further explanation.

Yep, the original Commander Jack Harper was cloned sixty years ago by the Tet so they could have their own wicked way with the world.

Can you imagine a society composed entirely of you?

No matter how much inherent narcissism exists within, it’s surely a scary thought.

Well pack my lunch; Sally is the real enemy and not the Scavs.

Jack repairs the captured drone and the base suffers an inevitable attack from the enemy.

After the last casualty of war is guilt, Jack takes the fuel cell from the ‘friendly’ drone damaged in battle and sets about delivering ‘Julia’ to Sally’s hideout.

During his entrance, Jack observes clones and hears the past of 2017.

Sally is revealed to be basically a floating stone computer triangle with a red eye.

Beech emerges from the pod instead of the intended survivor and Sally isn't best pleased.

We all knew that Julia wouldn't be handed over, right?

After reciting a passage from Horatius (as heard earlier), he prepares to trigger the nuke.

“Fuck you Sally!” and then, kaboom.

Back on Earth, the destruction of the Queen has a ripple effect on her worker ants…

Three years later…

Julia enjoys tranquility in her forest retreat.  Jack 52 and the remainder of the resistance appear and it all ends happy Earth after.

Allow me to open the referencing tin and pour out the contents.

Jack’s flying transport is straight from Avatar and the clone idea also smacks of Resident Evil: Retribution and even The Matrix, as that also had clones.

Although in totally different circumstances, the most outlandish madness of all is when clone fights clone as I immediately thought of Double Impact with Chad and Alex.

The drones have the visual scan of The Terminator, the attitude of ED-209 and the look of a turret from Valve’s Portal.

What word do you think their data bank permits when ‘assessing’ threat?

Disable, Obliterate, Terminate, Destroy, Disable, or Annihilate?

Well, it sits pretty between S and U.  The innovation shines through...

Also, is Sally supposed to be a tribute to GLaDOS or indiscriminate steal?

Just before the crash in the desert, the bubble ship is pursued by drones and I have two words to describe this chase sequence.

AFTER BURNER.

Did I like this?  I’m perched happily on the neutral fence.

The script is adequate at best but Sally frequently asking if Jack and Vikar are still an effective team is just damn irritating.

While I thought some of it was enjoyable, I was flagging half way through and even towards the end.

This film is like a very nervous learner driver trying to start a car; it takes too long to get going.

The action is sporadic and suffers from been caught up in its own perfunctory story telling.

Joseph Kosinski’s interpretation of his own unpublished graphic novel creates a stunning futuristic landscape which is backed by some fantastic effects.

If this was a video game, I’d use this cliché.

Premier graphics do not necessarily make for a good playing experience.

It seems this also extends to the silver screen, only without the use of a joypad...

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