May 11, 2013


Snap judgement in a text to my wife:
"Movie was suprisingly thoughtful, but too long. Amazing music, sound effects, and cinematography." 
Based on the trailers, thought I had the movie figured out before I set foot in the theater, and I was half right. By the end of the movie, the twists turned into knots. I am all in favor of fantastical science fiction concepts which bend the rules of our reality for an exciting story, but I found myself frustrated by inconsistencies, plot holes, and structural problems...some of which were explained in the last 30 minutes of the movie.
Total Recall, The Matrix, and Mad Max have all covered this wasteland turf before. OBLIVION takes these ideas and adds...atmosphere. Tons of atmosphere. When a critic describes a movie as "atmospheric" the movie is usually beautiful but too long, with long dialog-free passages. Bingo!
To its credit, I would have no problem with OBLIVION winning awards for cinematography and production design. Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough live and work out of a glass box perched high above the clouds. The scenes shot in this glass box at dusk, with the "magic hour" lighting, are completely realistic. I've read this was all accomplished "in camera" with a 500-foot muslin screen staged outside the set windows. Footage of Hawaiian clouds were projected outside the glass cube set, and the effect is complete verisimilitude.

I have a terribly conflicted relationship with Tom Cruise. On one hand, he has a terrific track record for choosing projects. He's starred in 20 films in the last 20 years, and I've seen 16 of them (13 in the theater.)
On the other hand, I find him less emotionally convincing with every passing film. In the Mission Impossible movies, that doesn't matter so much. In a action-comedy like Knight & Day, who cares? But I think Cruise is supposed to be in love in this movie.

NOTE: Cruise is a well-preserved fifty years old in this movie; his two lady costars (Olga Kurylenko and Riseborough) are 17 and 19 years younger than him, respectively.

DISTRACTING: We don't know why, but Andrea Riseborough's Victoria character has watery and dilated pupils throughout the film. I Googled "Victoria's eyes dilated oblivion" and it turns out lots of other bloggers noticed too. The effect was to make me continually suspicious, wary, and uncertain of her character.
Somerville Theater, Upstairs, with Adam and George.