"I take orders from the Octoboss."


tn_oblivionJack Harper (Tom Cruise) is just a working man, you know. After the war with the Scavengers (in which the moon was blown up and shit was fucked up) everybody left Earth for Titan – not the publisher of many fine books but the moon of Saturn that is named after the publisher, from what I understand. Now, I don’t want to stereotype, but alot of humans tend to like Titan for its dense atmosphere and stable bodies of surface liquid. One of the top moons for human life.

Down here we still got drone robots that fly around the wreckage trying to kill off the surviving space-insurgents, and Jack is one of the drone repairmen. By night he stays in a nice little house up on a platform, by day he flies around in his dragonfly shaped bubbleship tracking the drones and fixing them. He seems to like the alone time, but it’s not an I AM LEGEND situation, he does enjoy the company of his partner (wife?) Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) back at home and his boss Sally (Melissa Leo) via satellite from the space station they’ll be going to in a couple weeks before they finally get to go live on Titan with the cool kids.

It’s a well realized post-apocalyptic world, with only a few remnants of civilization poking out from a world well along in the process of returning to its natural state. He flies over mountains, deserts, valleys, forests, he explores caves. In his ship there’s alot of fancy touch screen business and radio lingo nonsense. It gets more fun to watch his job when he lands near a downed drone and gets out the tools. His ship is cleverly designed to contain all the parts and equipment he needs in the most compact way possible. Especially cool is when he pulls out a suit-case-sized piece that unfolds into a working motorcycle. I want one of those things! Could probly wear it on a backpack.

mp_oblivionAnd there’s sort of an organic feeling to this I noticed. It’s all very sleek and shiny surfaced but more like a brand new computer than like something that would be created by a computer. After seeing it I read that they had a concept car company build the bubbleship for real and had it on a crane. So that’s why it looks real – it kinda is.

I like these drones, big flying metal spheres with scanners and guns attached. Like many machines they seem to take on a personality as he deals with them. They’re creepy because they don’t communicate. They don’t have faces but they scan his face and pause to compute before they decide whether or not they’re supposed to shoot him. Or sometimes he gets in a predicament like there’s a stray dog there, is it gonna shoot the dog? It’s kind of like being friends with ED-209. You don’t think he’s gonna kill you, but you don’t know for 100%. And once they’ve made their decision they turn on their jets and fly away like Superman, leaving you in their wake.

Of course this is more than a robot repair procedural, some other shit is gonna happen. There’s this business about memories Jack has of a beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko). And if you saw the trailer or the poster or the cast list you know Morgan Freeman is gonna show up wearing goggles at some point. (Based on how far into the movie this happens it would’ve been nice if they kept it under wraps, but oh well.)

It’s kind of hard to discuss the things I thought were most interesting about the movie without discussing it as a whole, so if you’re staying spoiler free I’ll just say that this is a pretty good movie, not incredibly original but a well-executed take on a type of story I like, with some subtext that I enjoyed. And with that I bid you a fond adieu. From here on out I’m assuming everybody’s seen the movie, it’s SPOILERS all day.

In the opening I thought it was a little heavy on the narration. He explains all about the war and Titan and everything and I kept thinking it would be better if we just saw him go about his routine and these details sort of revealed themselves as we went along, if they became relevant. So it was a nice surprise that actually he’s been lied to and the narration had to be narration because he was just repeating some bullshit to us. Good trick.

I also thought it was funny that a random dude in the future still had to have an awesome name like Jack Harper. But it turns out actually he’s a hotshot astronaut, so he earned the name Jack Harper. And let’s face it, it’s pretty cool to be Jack Harper. I mean, he experiences some hiccups here, but mostly he has a good time.

In the beginning I almost envied his cool job. He gets to fly around in a slick, comfortable looking spaceship, he has all the good equipment, he gets to see beautiful landscapes, sit on top of a mountain, visit historical sites (I’m not sure I buy that he knows all about the final plays of the last Super Bowl, but maybe he’s a nerd), gather mementos that he keeps at his private hangout. Yeah, he gets attacked sometimes but he’s good at his job, he doesn’t seem real scared or anything. This week I also watched HAPPY PEOPLE: A YEAR IN THE TAIGA, a Werner Herzog documentary about indigenous trappers in the middle of Siberia, and it gave me kind of a similar feeling. Despite all the things wrong with the job it just seems like a nice life being out there kind of on your own, knowing what to do and having some time to do it, not having to punch a clock or anything. A simple life.

But unlike the happy people Jack goes home to a sweet pad with a swimming pool and a wife-like co-worker with an accent and possibly CGI enhanced ass. Their relationship isn’t the strongest, which becomes especially obvious when he brings home Julia (Kurylenko), a fuckin super model in a metal canister, planning to keep her. Even not knowing that he dreams about this lady (or that she’s his wife) Victoria seems jealous, and he seems clueless about how she feels.

Still, it’s just him and these two ladies and a wide open planet. A pretty good life.

But I started to wonder why Victoria had to stay at home the whole time. She seems to be his partner but alot of what she’s doing is just reading things off of screens and moving files around on a touch screen that could probly be handled fine by Sally on the other end. And she’s all business, she doesn’t respond to romantic gestures from Jack like bringing her flowers or wanting to bring her to his special place on the surface.

This is it, the hollow American dream, the nice home with the top of the line kitchen appliances, the stay at home wife. After he steps in a trap, shoots at some attackers, gets his climbing cable cut and motorcycle stolen he gets home at dusk, limping a little bit, tired. Tough day at the office. He’s even holding a metal case like a briefcase or a working man’s lunchbox. I bet there’s a Thermos of coffee in there.

He works dutifully at his job, he enjoys his luxurious life, he dreams of the day in the near future when he gets to go to the colony, he’s nostalgic for the past, he yearns for something more. He’s like somebody working for a big corporation that maybe makes weapons that end up in some unsavory places overseas, or a citizen of a country with some questionable foreign policy that he doesn’t ever ask questions about. He doesn’t know that he’s actually working for The Man (or in this case The non-huMan), or that his work is really oppressing and killing his fellow man. He says “I never hurt anyone!” because as far as he knows that’s true. When he finds out the truth he comes home and tries to tell Victoria and she runs into the other room saying “I don’t want to know!” She wants to wait for hubby to come home in his cool spaceship and have sex in the pool. She doesn’t want to feel bad about it.

Whatever goes on with Morgan Freeman and the band of survivors is sketched a little lighter than Jack Harper’s world. I didn’t really understand what was up with the Predator outfits – they said it hides that they’re human so the drones don’t shoot them. Does that mean that’s really what the Scavengers look like, or that the drones consider them animals and don’t bother with them? But the drone does try to shoot that dog, doesn’t it? I’m not sure how that works.

One narrative weakness is that Jack is so far behind the audience in figuring out what’s going on. The casting of Morgan Freeman might be to blame. If they wanted us to think that those guys aren’t to be trusted they should’ve chosen pretty much anybody besides Morgan Freeman. We trust that guy. When he says you gotta help us get into this thing and blow it up we know that he knows something we don’t. We don’t think he’s the bad guy.

It was cool to see Zoe Bell there. Remember how she was standing there in a couple scenes. She didn’t say anything but at least she was photographed clearly, unlike in GAMER.

One nice touch: the robot shooting at people in the hallway full of great works of art (and the Liberty Bell). It’s cool because it’s a sci-fi-ification of an action trope I enjoy (gunfire destroying symbols of culture and wisdom such as books and statues) but also because they never feel the need to point out in dialogue that Freeman’s people have tried to preserve important artifacts of Earth culture, they just have it there for you to notice.

Then there’s the deal with the clones. Imagine how square you feel when you realize there’s a bunch of guys out there with your exact same job, same house, same damn wife. I like how they used the clones, that it acknowledges that if she can’t be with the real Jack she could still share her love with one of his clones. I’m sure she’d rather be with the first one, but she’s not gonna turn her nose up at a clone.

For it to work as a sweet ending though you gotta be confident in them being meant to be together. I mean, just because they were married before the invasion doesn’t mean they gotta be together forever. Alot has changed, many marriages have broken down over less. And o.g. Jack seemed pretty into it in that flashback when Victoria number one brushed close to him in the space shuttle.

But if he’s really the love of her life then it’s sweet that she was able to overcome his death by having a spare. You gotta wonder about what happens later though. I’m assuming there are other Jack Harper clones all over the world fixing up drones. They all must have Julia in their memory too. I know it took three years for #52 to find her, but eventually some of the other guys oughta start showing up, right? They got alot of time on their hands now that the drones are all broken. OBLIVION 2 could be about a new war between the Jacks building new drones out of the old parts to fight for their Julia.

This is of course movie #2 for director Joseph Kosinski, who also co-wrote (with the writer of that shitty Joel Schumacher/Nicolas Cage joint TRESPASS) and came up with the idea. It says it’s based on his graphic novel, but that’s a book that’s never been published, so who cares. It seems Kosinski is a good craftsman if not a genius. He knows how to make things look real nice and has a unique sense of design. It makes sense that the sleek equipment here comes out of the same mind as the stuff in TRON LEGACY. Also I like his taste in music. It’s not as great as the more computery Daft Punk score to LEGACY, but it’s got kind of a similar feel and it’s from somebody called M.8.3 with Joseph Trapanese.

This is alot less ridiculous than TRON LEGACY, but if I had to pick one I personally prefer TRON because it’s so much more extreme in the visuals, the music, the action, the biodigital jazz. I don’t know why man, I was really skeptical about that movie because the whole concept of TRON is so absurd, but I ended up digging it more than all the troniacs who were excited for it. So far I don’t see signs that Kosinski is a great director, but there’s proof that he’s a skilled and entertaining one. Sign me up for the next one.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013 at 2:15 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

25 Responses to “Oblivion”

  1. Vern, are you planning to watch/review ”Jack Reacher”, another Jack-Tom Cruise action Flick?


    Vern, your picking up the whole working man back from the office late was very perceptive – I never thought about that but is very true – there’s a sense of a couple papering over the cracks in a failing relationship. Hmm.

    I liked this (although why they didn’t go with the title of PLANET OF THE JANITORS I can’t understand). I liked it more in the first half when it has a very authentic PLANET OF THE APES/OMEGA MAN feel – that 70’s pessimism is there for a while. It looks fantastic, although you do expect to see WALL-E in there, what with the world and drone design. The spectacle is treated very naturalistically rather than ‘Oh My God, it’s the INSERT FAMOUS LANDMARK!!!’. The shots of the Tet on the horizon are amazing – like a moonrise. And I loved the concept of an army of Tom Cruises being used to subjugate the Earth in the initial invasion – that’s a mixed message for Scientology to think about. The drones are genuinely sinister because you never feel like Tom knows what they’re going to do and they have very effective weapons for a film of this certificate. Poor old Victoria. Strangely, I found the bit with Tom and the flower (and Victoria’s rejection of it) quite moving – it was quite compassionate in that way. Victoria is by far the best character in it as she’s properly conflicted.


    Sally is as sinister as hell from the first second and memory wipes are a flag so you always know something is up. It was as predictable as any movie I have ever seen and it made some bizarre choices in order to pretend that there was any semblance of mystery (for instance, the bizarre scav armour, apparently stealth-based, makes you run on all fours). The clone angle you could see coming from a mile away. It’s like a child interpreting Philip K Dick or Kurt Vonnegut – getting the story beats but missing the depth. There were only 3 sort of proper characters in it – the rest were apparently glorified extras. Sadly, the music wasn’t a patch on TRON LEGACY’s either.

    A last positive though – the visit to the Tet and Sally’s reveal, although expected, was pretty bonkers in design. So not a failure for me, but due to it’s rather superficial story not close to what it could have been for me either.

  3. SPOILERS – I was surprised how much I actually liked this movie. Not only is it a huge leap (for me) over Tron 2, but I thought the twist was incredible (maybe I’m slow because I didn’t see it coming, even though a lot of people say the trailer gives it away, which now I think about it, it kinda does)

    I mean, it’s obvious from frame one (and movie convention) Melissa Leo is up to something, but I had no idea it was going to be what it turned out to be. Even when you realize the drones are targetting humans, and Freeman wants Cruise to destroy the Tet, I still thought it was some Elysium-type upper-class/lower-class story (They significantly show “A Tale of Two Cities” in the library as a red herring)

    Vern, that’s a great point about the movie being about the “man goes to work/wife stays at home” dynamic – i knew there was something the movie was trying to say about Victoria staying at home in a designer dress and always wearing high heels, even while cooking, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

    Re: the Scav armor, Freeman said it was made using old “stealth technology” to avoid the drones, which makes sense and is kind of ingenious since it also means they have to cover their face to stay undetected. As The Limey pointed out, it doesn’t make much sense why they run on all fours (and make animal grunts) when it’s revealed they’re really human though. This movie has a ton of cheats like that, such as why don’t Freeman and the rebels just TELL Cruise the truth instead of threatening to shoot his wife, for instance. They could have at least had the rebels run on all fours/use PARKOUR like Captain America at the end while fighting that drone to be consistent.

    Also – what happened to Victoria #52? Riseborough is so striking (I’ll go ahead and use a hubba hubba on that pool scene, one of the hottest things I’ve seen in a PG 13 movie) and creates such an interesting character that it’s too bad she doesn’t show up at the end with Jack #52. It would have been a great, bittersweet ending (for me) if after the Tet was defeated, she helped Jack try to find Julia, maybe even hooked up with Nikolaj whatever. But instead, I guess we can infer she didn’t want to know the truth and stayed up in the #52 tower for the rest of her days eating what I guess is cloned astronaut food?

  4. Neal – I’m glad you were impressed because I found this criminally bland. Not a bad film, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.

    I guess more than anything else, I wish there were actually intriguing ideas to hook me in. I mean many critics rip this for ripping off this and that movie, and its true. But I tend to give movies a relatively break if they add something new to the mix, or be interesting. This didn’t. FX is pretty and score is nice. But that’s polishing a turd.

    Plus when you think about it, this movie is kinda dumb. Nevermind the giant floating XBox of Doom…


    the adversaries are pretty dumb if you think about it. Yes this same Jack who you notice for being too curious and defending those humans and fighting your drones, and you just let him into your fortress?

    Also anybody else notice the droids the movie can’t decide what it takes to destroy them. Strategic gunshots can stop one, but a million bullets doesn’t?

    Finally, the twist makes no sense. All those Jacks, wouldn’t they by accident cross each other’s paths earlier or not more often? I mean look what happened when they did meet each other. They’re not robots. So yeah this is a pretty sloppy plan hatched by the evil aliens.

  5. Oh yeah, forgot to mention the score – it’s kind of funny that there’s a rumor going around that Hans Zimmer, not Daft Punk did most of the Tron score. Because this M83 score sounds basically like the Tron score but with MORE Zimmer! It is kind of weird how M83’s music is always described as “cinematic” yet he (Anthony Gonzalez) finally scores a movie and it sounds nothing like them! (He’s been pretty vocal in the press about not really being able to score it like he wanted to) With the exception of the end credits and the pool scene, it sounds like any other movie. For a more M83-ish score, the infamous Red Riding Hood is a much better example (I think Gonzalez contributed a bit to that soundtrack too), or that Expedia commercial where the guy proposes in the hot air balloon.

    SPOILERS – RRA – I was actually under the impression that Jack got curious fairly often and was eliminated fairly often, basically any time Victoria admitted they were not an effective team. Who replaced the broken windows and swept up the vaporized Julia and Jack bits are unexplained though. They leave it open-ended, but I think it could be interpreted that the very beginning of the movie is this Jack’s first go round, right? For all we know the previous version was vaporized last night. But yeah, you’re right – Sally’s actions make no sense – letting them into the heart of the ship, not being able to tell who is in the ship or that there’s a giant bomb on the ship, yet being able to tell Cruise is lying. Also not being able to track his ship that SHE MADE during the drone chase. There’s tons of plot holes that I sometimes don’t forgive, I guess the filmatism made me not dwell on them this time.

  6. I liked this for the Icelandic vistas and sense of beatific loneliness. I also thought there was gonna be MORE of that – that Jack had to fight to survive on this hostile, pretty planet. Instead they rushed into the hurried, kinda uninspired finale that was a little too close to Independence Day for my liking.

    (SPOILERS) The whole alien angle lacked SCOPE, man. Where did this TET thing come from? How often has it done this before? Were there other rooms inside the thing containing clones of little green men – or does it dump those once the planets it’s been exploiting have been sucked dry? Nobody asked those questions.

    Also, I thought Andrea Riseborough was somehow far more alluring and interesting than Kurylenko. For being so important to the plot, she came across as kinda bland – and she wasn’t even a clone.

    As for Kosinski – it looks like he’s planning to take Tron out of the computer and into the real world for the next instalment. I don’t get it. Are we talking about US Military versus lightcycles here, or what? How is that a good idea?

  7. I don’t know, sounds pretty awesome to me. All the pretty colors of TRON vehicles with all the actual exploding of real stuff. You could have the entire TRON world bleeding out into our reality, taking it over a little bit at a time, like The Nothing from NEVERENDING STORY. It’s an assimilation horror story instead of a hero’s quest thing. It could work.

  8. I saw this a few days ago and I really enjoyed. Like you say Vern, it’s not all that original (a large part of the plot is lifted from MOON), and I got a little restless in the middle waiting for the twist, but it’s well made and pretty satisfactory. Most things that bugged me concerned the ending:


    -First of all, the Suicide Mission was completely unnecessary, wasn’t it? Couldn’t they have just recovered the OTHER drone that Jack disabled in the “radiation zone” while fighting his counterpart? It was still working, just powerless. In fact, given that it was the same exact one he repairs at the the start and keeps saving him later, that would have brought that full circle, wouldn’t it?
    -Jack takes away Julia’s CHOICE to die for the good of humanity, because it’s a weird rule of Hollywood films that only a man can sacrifice themselves. Not to mention you’d think the TET would have scanned the pod and immediately detected that it wasn’t a woman in there
    -While it’s actually a bit refreshing for a movie to NOT have characters think that a clone isn’t really the same thing as the original, it still doesn’t sit right with me that Julia could be okay with replacing her lost man, not once, but TWICE! It’s all right for her too, since she has replacements, but flip it around, only ONE Jack can be with her at a time, so what would happen if more showed up after the final scene? Awkward. Also, what happened to the other Riseboroughs?
    -Finally, they destroyed the TET…but who sent it? What if they send more now that it’s destroyed?

    “Finally, the twist makes no sense. All those Jacks, wouldn’t they by accident cross each other’s paths earlier or not more often? I mean look what happened when they did meet each other. ”
    That wasn’t explicitly explained, but you can tell that each Jack was told to avoid the “radiation zones”, which are in fact NOT radiation zones, but the “territory” of the other Jacks, so they’d not run into each other. The Jack we follow is different from the other ones because his territory is New York, where the original Jack lived, so it makes sense that he’d be drawn to the special place and the others wouldn’t if they thought it was in a polluted area.

  9. Majestyk: I don’t know, man, that kinda reminds me of that one scene in THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR where the protagonist drives out of the city and finds this wireframe-land where he thought there’d just be more real world. The logistics of any Grid-encroachment would also likely be hard to handle – they’d need a whole lot of those “I’ll-turn-you-into-chunks-of-data-and-pull-you-into-the-computer-and-push-you-out-again” laser things to make it work.

    My main gripe is that Kosinski & Co. haven’t even tried to fully exploit the concept of a digital world. LEGACY and UPRISING (what I’ve seen of it) don’t wow us with weird concepts that only a digital world could support – no, they basically replicate our world on the Grid, with jobs, clubs and even slums. They have mountains and oceans where it could basically just be beautiful abstraction. How would the programs look in these modern days when there are teams of people writing them, and not just one hip dude with an arcade? What about the internet at Tron-level? We’ll likely never know.

    I think that we’re headed for another “what makes a human?” kind of setup, and we’ve seen that one far too often.

  10. Stu – *SPOILERS* I totally forgot about the other drone in the desert – yeah, they totally could have used that one to deliver the bomb at the end but that would make for a pretty anticlimactic ending. That’s interesting that you pointed out women don’t really sacrifice themselves too often in movies – I remember right before the Freeman reveal, I was thinking “are they really going to do this?”

    I never really gave thought to who built/sent the TET, but just figured the TET itself was the all-powerful alien, kinda like V’ger in Star Trek 1 and whatever that thing was in Star Trek IV. I really dug that it simply appropriated Leo’s voice and likeness to communicate with them, like some Stephen King monster or something.

  11. Guess I’m not watching this movie. Sorry Vern, I didn’t even get past the first paragraph of your review. Maybe I just watch the Universe too much but living on Titan is just NOT feasible at all. Titan is not anywhere near our solar systems habitable zone. It may have a dense atmosphere that succeeds in keeping it warmer but it’s still a very chilly negative 180 degrees. And it’s definitely a planet with liquids, but it’s liquid methane. Whatever they did to fuck up the Earth they still would have been better off staying. If they have the technology to travel through space and live on Titan comfortably then they have to technology to fix whatever happened to the fucking Earth. Guess I’ll pass on this one. Damn me for obsessing about these kinds of things!

  12. ^^ Mac, if you watch the movie (or read 2 extra paragraphs) you’d see that it is intentionally far-fetched, Tom Cruise is not necessarily a reliable narrator.

  13. neal2zod

    I took the Tale of Two Cities ref to mean that Jack 49 sacrifices himself for Jack 52 as Carnton sacrifices himself for Darnay in the book (as they are mistakeable for each other), which is a howling giveaway to the plot.

    I wondered if each Jack was a new iteration, i.e. there was no memory wipe just a new generation as old Jacks wore out or were killed, and the number referred to their zone rather than identified them as individuals.

    Curious to see if Kosinski tackles THE BLACK HOLE or TRON 3 as he said he intends. I don’t know how they could make THB they way they did – the original Maximillian can’t be topped. And TRON 3 – gosh I really liked LEGACY but I can’t see how bringing everything into this world would work. Where would the glow come from???!!!! But I would like to see morra Quorra.

    Based on TRON and OBLIVION, I think Joseph Kosinski does manage to put very humanistic elements into his movie – as I said, the bit with the flower in OBLIVION and little moments with Quorra and Flynn. I must also point out that I generally don’t like James Frain in anything but that his performance as the computer lackey Jarvis (‘Death to the Users!’) is really fantastic – the bit where he knocks stuff over in Flynn’s pad is hysterical. Had to note that for posterity because I’ve always wanted to acknowledge it somewhere.

    Also, Lance Henriksen is in TRON UPRISING. Quality.

  14. “Maybe I just watch the Universe too much but living on Titan is just NOT feasible at all. Titan is not anywhere near our solar systems habitable zone. It may have a dense atmosphere that succeeds in keeping it warmer but it’s still a very chilly negative 180 degrees. And it’s definitely a planet with liquids, but it’s liquid methane. Whatever they did to fuck up the Earth they still would have been better off staying. If they have the technology to travel through space and live on Titan comfortably then they have to technology to fix whatever happened to the fucking Earth. Guess I’ll pass on this one. Damn me for obsessing about these kinds of things!”


    It doesn’t matter whether the planet/moon is on the “habitable” zone. Unless you intend to terraform a planet. Which a colony in Titan obviously wouldn’t try.

    It would potentially matter, if you were using solar energy. But fission / fusion energy is a much easier option.

    Titan is not covered in liquid methane. While there are hydrocarbon lakes, the moon is mainly rocky materials, and WATER ICE. Sure, it’s not in liquid form, but ice is easy to melt. And besides, many scientists believe that while the surface water is frozen, there might be lakes/oceans of liquid water deeper in the moon.

    Water is essential for humans, animals, plants, etc. And you can also make oxygen from water.

    If humans would need to leave Earth, in our solar system Titan would be the best place to go.

    Anyway, after watching the trailers for the film, I’m not even convinced that there is a colony in Titan. It might be a hoax, since obviously someone is fooling someone in the film, in a big way.

  15. I’ve just discovered Andrea Riseborough. Between this and DISCONNECT she is my new favorite. Tops still are Brit Marling and Alison Brie but I share my love.

    Didn’t like the movie overall though. Entirely predictable. It was either SPOILERS clones or robots, one or the other. And that opening narration was ridiculous, whether a misdirect or not. That was some Uwe Boll quality world building. We get it. World ended, last man on earth, drones and survivors. Just get on with it.

    At least it wasn’t shaky cam, but not especially thrilling either.

  16. This movie actually kinda reminded me of PROMETHEUS.

    And yes, that’s not a compliment.

  17. M83 only did two tracks on the soundtrack, Starwaves and Oblivion (feat. Susanne Sundfør). Most of the soundtrack was done by Joe Trapanese, the guy who helped Daft Punk on Tron Legacy, and Mike Shinoda on The Raid soundtrack.

    You can read about Anthony Gonzales frustrating about making it in this interview:

  18. Dikembe Mutombo

    May 4th, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    There were two things I liked about this movie (spoiler):

    –the fight between the two Cruises that I thought was nice and simple and dirty, just two guys tumbling around in the sand and using MMA submissions on each other for some reason.
    –I’ve forgotten what the other thing I liked was. Oh yeah, Andrea Roseborough was really good as Victoria. I’ve never seen her before, but I’ll look out for her in the future.

    Otherwise, man, this movie was such a drag for me. Something I really dig about your writing Vern is your generosity towards movies, always having an open mind and looking for things to appreciate about a film. I like your review here and some of the nuances you picked up on are cool.

    But I just soured on this movie so fast and it never won me back. It’s so indulgently directed, in the sense that every scene is drawn out as long as possible and there’s no variety in tone or willingness to puncture the sterile, serious atmosphere. If David Fincher directed this script he would’ve made the thing move> – it would’ve been an hour and 15 minutes long, and it would’ve contained all the same information.

    I wasn’t that high on Tron Legacy either for similar reasons – poor sense of how to make a story move and poor sense for how deadly Serious And Important a movie about a guy getting sucked into a video game world should feel (I’m not saying that a movie shouldnt take its characters, conflicts or themes seriously, just that you can do so while having fun and not making everyone look and talk like they’re constantly taking a dump). but i did like it more than Oblivion because like you say we at least got stuff like “Biodigital jazz, man”

    I love your point about the movie requiring us to believe that Jack & Julia were meant for each other. The movie doesn’t really supply any other way for us to think about them, except as two people who were once together and who are destined to be together again. They’re not really distinct as characters. I feel like this movie wants to have a sheen of humanity without actually having any characters. Victoria’s the most memorable one in the movie. That could be part of what makes the movie drag also, that it engages in a pantomime of humanity without supplying the foundation of character to make it resonate and feel real.

    PS. I hope you review JACK REACHER after it comes out on home video. It was actually my favorite action movie/badass movie last year, but a lot of critics couldn’t really appreciate it for what it was. I think it’d be in your wheelhouse.

  19. Caught EDGE OF TOMORROW. Doug Liman’s first good action movie since BOURNE IDENTITY. Surprisingly funny, which the ads have failed to give folks notice of. Instead for whatever fucking reason, they’re basically selling it as OBLIVION 2. The fact that allegedly it’ll open to #3 this weekend I think tells you how effective that marketing strategy was.

    But yeah its good. Yes its the acton movie remake of GROUNDHOG DAY, but I say that as a compliment and not as a dismissive put-down. The only drawback in the last act when the movie goes Roland Emmerich with our heroes having to bomb an alien base/brain/macguffin. You know that drill.

    Also I hate the title. Why not keep the original title ALL YOU NEED IS KILL? Wacky title yeah (title from the source novel) but its memorable. EOT sounds like a dull soap opera or something.

  20. yeah, I hate that title too

  21. They probably were scared of getting accused for being responsible, in case some motherfucker would walk around and kill people again, while the streets are plastered with posters that say ALL YOU NEED IS KILL.

  22. Yeah, I really liked it. Clever use of, well not editing exactly, but pacing in that when they introduce a new tangent for the characters to go off on, they cut to the next scene like it’s literally the next scene, but you’ll find out through Cruises actions and dialogue that he’s already been through the scenario a few times and failed.
    Really distracted though by how Lara Pulver appears at the very end as basically an extra with no lines. Was there more to her character in deleted scenes? Is she friends with Doug Liman and just wanted to be in a movie with Tom Cruise?

  23. Stu – alot of people have already brought up the movie being an analogy of sorts of video games and it makes sense.

    Video games (especially the storyline-oriented games) are on a loop. Once you beat it, there are no more surprises but each time you play you have to go through the same cut scenes. Except Cruise’s character doesn’t have the “skip cutscenes” button option. Poor bastard.

    For that matter how EOT starts, Cruise doesn’t know dick about using his robot suit/weapons as newbies playing a new game are quite useless initially. Then after trial and error, they get the hang of it. Once you know the beats of a level, you can beat it through repetition and gamer determination. But Drew McWeeny made a good observation that sometimes there is a level or game that pisses you off because you can’t beat it* and you just quit for awhile. This is what Cruise does at one point. Then back to the game!

    Then you can get bored of a game and you experiment, if you will in sadism. Since video games aren’t real, especially the characters, there is a lapse in moralism since if you fail to save them or you just let them die, there is no consequences. I’m reminded of STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT where I failed the Endor mission countless times because I kept killing my Ewok allies. Hell some games have even tried to experiment on such variation. There was those INFAMOUS games (first two anyway, not played the new one) where you can take your protagonist make decisions that make him either a superhero or a super villain.

    Hell even Emily Blunt’s cartoonishly huge blade looks like a prop loaned from the FINAL FANTASY games.

    *=Ah, NINJA GAIDEN you evil bitch.

  24. “first two anyway, not played the new one”

    I have and it’s fucking gorgeous

    from a gameplay standpoint it’s solid but nothing life changing, but man is it fun to look at

  25. I played NINJA GAIDEN on the Xbox and it was a tough game, but the reason I gave up on it was because of how repetitive it became in the end when you had to fight the bosses you already beat earlier but then do it all over again. That felt like some GROUNDHOG DAY shit to me.

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