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And then this blog disappeared for nearly two and a half years…

Of course, that’s what happens when 1) you only see half of the movies in 2011 and 2012 compared to 2010, and 2) head off to grad school and lose all grasp of time.

Of course, 1) I might start seeing movies a bit more often again, because 2) grad school is done!  Or just about, since I have a final to take.  Hopefully this will find me a job somewhere within the HSE field, or something similar that’ll make me good money with consistent hours.  In the mean time, with my college writing done, I need to do something to keep my writing (somewhat) sharp.

Hence, this blog is making a comeback.

For the time being, it’ll probably maintain the same format as before, with writing about the movie briefly before describing what works/what doesn’t/how it makes me feel/etc.  One major change is the lack of grading: I’ll let the review speak for itself, without any arbitrary letter or star grade to act as a final determinant.  I’ve done a lot of reading over the past two years regarding film, much of which has also affected me in terms of personal growth and how to embrace certain things.  The most important thing I hope to pass on to others is to just see movies, whether or not they’re good or not (case in point, the latter with the following review), and to inspire discussion regarding movies.  Why was this movie amazing?  Why was this movie crap?  Why do you feel differently than I do?  Stuff like that.  It’s all about having a dialogue, if I can at least generate one.

Besides theatrical stuff, I’ll be getting through some of my DVDs as well, which is what I had originally intended to do with this blog in the first place.  I may or may not discuss bonus DVD content, though I’ll make up my mind whenever I get to that (note: a lot of DVDs don’t have crap nowadays anyway, beyond trailers and previews. I really should consider a Blu-ray upgrade at some point).

I’ll do some TV discussions as well, starting with Game of Thrones, since that’s the one show I watch consistently.

I’ll probably clean up the tags a bit at some point, but for the time being, they’ll be the cluttered mess that they are.  I never got a good handle on how to tag this stuff, but I’ll stick with what I’ve been doing: title, director, principle leads, and year of release.  That should help, in case anyone wants to look for previous stuff (though, three quarters of the reviews here are 2010 movies).

So I think that’s everything I need to address.  The review for Oblivion starts below the dotted line.


Over the weekend I saw Oblivion.

Unfortunately, it’s much like Kosinski’s last film, Tron: Legacy.  The special effects were really good, and the score (done by Anthony Gonzalez of M83) was booming (though a bit lacking in the group’s traditional synth work).  Everything else with the movie, not so much.  It was tedious and boring, with a story that riffs off of better sci-fi films and does nothing imaginative with them.  The final third of the film is wacky too, when a lot of the derivative stuff just flies in your face, plus other random things just start happening with no real explanation until really late.

The story itself goes like this: Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, part of a mop up crew that repairs drones and makes sure that the giant hydro pumps that are collecting the planet’s water are operational.  Earth itself was attacked by aliens called Scavs in 2017, and sixty years later the remnants of humanity has fallen back to Saturn’s moon, Titan.  The Scavs are generally out to sabotage the drones and to prevent humanity from being successful in its water pulling mission.  Jack is assisted by Victoria, played by Andrea Riseborough, who directs Jack around to various fallen drones.

During a routine mission, Jack encounters a rocket falls to earth, with all but one pod in it destroyed by a drone.  That pod has Julia (Olga Kurylenko), and eventually the plot moves forward with who she is, plus the remnants of humanity on earth, and who Jack Harper really is.

That’s about as much as I can say without giving it away completely, though the trailer does a good amount regarding that.  The storytelling is rather thin, with most of the major characters barely fleshed out.  Cruise and Riseborough get the most work, shown as capable coworkers and lovers (“are you an effective team?” is an oft repeated question).  Everyone else is thin: Kurylenko shows up and messes things up a bit, but doesn’t do too much.  Morgan Freeman is the leader of a small group of humans living on earth, and offers nothing more than the occasional sagely advice.  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau randomly shows up in the movie (random in the “holy crap he’s in this movie?”) as a tough guy general who works with Freeman’s character.  The humans in this movie are hard to root for in general, since none of them have any real personality.

It’s just… meh, really.  It’s not terrible, really, just generic, unobjectionable stuff.  It does make me wonder though, between this and Tron: Legacy, why anyone thinks Kosinski is good at all.

I’m curious if this has anything to do with it:

Which, after rewatching, isn’t that great.  It’s effective in setting a mood (Clu chasing down the random program and Kevin Flynn powerless to do anything about it) but the chase doesn’t make sense at all.

In the end, it does make me wonder if Kosinski is just capable of making beautiful, bland stuff, like Oblivion.

What a glorious blood bath. Well, the blood bath itself is glorious, but everything else…

Actually, this wasn’t that bad of a film. Yes, it’s one long chase scene. Yes, the characterizations don’t go beyond two dimensions for most characters. But it’s tense (Olga Kurylenko as the Pict tracker is intense), and there is enough character in the film that you want these guys to live, though you may know by the onset of the chase who will end up dying. That part actually is pretty unpredictable until the end.

Most impressive about this film is the visual shots. It’s reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, with many helicopter shots over snow and grass covered mountains, valleys, and fields, each one more luscious than the previous. Some of it does get covered in blood, lots and lots of it actually (the main story covers the alleged disappearance of the Ninth Legion during the early 2nd century, which in this instance is caused by the Pict resistance in the north of England), with heads, legs, arms, anything and everything getting hacked and slashed. It all looks beautiful and gritty at once, which is hard to pull off but Marshall does it.

Actually, from what I understand, Neil Marshall directed The Descent, which was apparently quite good (that was the horror movie about women getting trapped in a cave with cannibalistic humans living there). It had great reviews apparently, but, given that it’s horror, the audience is limited. He has a good eye and feel for directing. Hopefully his next project that gets released stateside gets more exposure (Centurion lasted two weeks in Philly, for those keeping track).

So, see it for the flowing landscapes and the equally flowing valleys of blood. Enjoyable for what it is.

B-