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Beautiful film, slightly less beautiful plot.
Oblivion takes place in a future where Earth is a desolate wasteland, essentially destroyed by mysterious alien forces. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) – not to be mistaken with Jack Reacher – is a former veteran who has been tasked with farming Earth for it's remaining resources with the 'help' of Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) – that 'help' being staring woefully at a screen.
From there, the plot get's pretty damn complicated. Rather than spoiling the story by trying to explain it, it's probably just better to warn you that a headache is waiting for those who are planning on attempting to follow what the hell is going on (and not even the good kind of headache – or the Memento headache, if you will.) It's probably a film that is better the second time around.
The performances are competent, nothing really to shout home about. Risebourough is probably the weakest of the pack, giving a performance that would sit a lot better in a Bond film. Morgan Freeman performs his 'Mysterious man with a voice that could cool lava' act with all the usual finesse – although honestly it's a bit of a con him being on the poster, since he only has about 10 minutes of screen time overall.
The most notable thing about the film is just how beautiful it is. It really is one of the best looking films in recent years – right up there with Prometheus (Which honestly is the only thing you'd want to have in common with Prometheus.)
The film has a fantastic score to go with the brilliant visuals, which makes for a truly epic experience. If you don't feel your pulse raising the damn roof during the ending sequence, then you're probably dead – Killed by a heart attack that was brought on by the sheer intensity of the scene. Either that or you just don't get excited easily. Which is fair enough.
The issue here, is that it seems that Kosinki focused too hard on making it look good, rather than making it feel good.
The film is 2 hours, which is a fair length, but at times it can feel slow. Really slow. It probably didn't need to be as long as it is, because a lot of the content feels like artificial padding. The first half of the film is basically Cruise farting around on Earth, getting scanned by flying robots and falling down holes.
Also, the general story just feels overly-contrived. It's hard to crucify it like it really needs to be without spoiling it, but really it just comes down to the film just trying to do to much. It's spread thinner than a jam sandwich made by someone with a crippling fear of spreading jam. The one good thing to come from it is that we get to see Tom Cruise fist fight himself which is always fun.
In all honesty, setting aside the 'quite stupid but still complicated as hell' plot, the film is actually quite good. It's no masterpiece, but it's exciting, thought-provoking, and of course - insanely good looking. So if you're the kind of person who cracks one out to The Tree of Life, then this film is a must-see. If you care more about content, it's still a good film to check out, but it's not going to awe you in any way. Watch with caution though, because this film may be the one that brings to light your extremely debilitating fetish for beautiful cinematography.
Entertaining Sci-Fi, Let down by bad script and acting.
Let me start by saying that I am not a die hard Alien/Ridley fan, so I like to believe that I'm giving a relatively open-minded review that views this movie as a film in it's own right and not a pre-cursor to the classic movie Alien.
Many people were disappointed by this, because of it's legacy, and it's promise. It was a prequel to a great film, by a great director, and it had some great marketing, but the film itself just was not that great. If you compare this to Alien, it falls short big time, and thus I will not compare them - It's only fair to examine this film as a film in it's own right as well as an accessory.
Anyway, the one thing you instantly notice from the get-go is just how beautiful this film is. I mean really, the opening 5 minutes are truly astounding. The cinematography and editing for the most part are picture perfect - really enjoyable for camera and film buffs like myself.
As the film progresses, we meet the crew, who all seem to be airlifted straight out of 'sci-fi cliché's 101'. We've got the cold, takes no sh*t female captain, The cocky overzealous 'all guns blazing' badass, The nerdy Asian co-pilot, The cheeky sarcastic android, The beefy black guy with an attitude. And really, apart from David the android, the characters are all pretty dull and un-developed. You really get no insight into any of the characters at all, and they are generally all portrayed less than brilliantly by their respective actors.
For the most part this can be blamed on the script - it's generally solid enough, but there is some real half-assed writing going on in there. Many of the characters lines are predictable and corny, and it all feels very unnatural. The conversations don't really flow, and there is surprisingly little exposition, considering the film had a lot of information to convey.
However, if you can look past the B-level writing an acting, there is a very solid movie underneath. It's not ground breaking by any means, but it's certainly entertaining from start to finish, has plenty of action and plenty of intrigue. Some parts of the film are a little OTT, and the film seems to have trouble building any kind of tension, but overall I did enjoy watching Prometheus, and will definitely watch it again in the future. Definitely not a timeless classic, but certainly a film worth checking out if you're into sci-fi.
Black Mirror (2011)
Really interesting and well-written satire
After watching the first episode, I was shocked about the negative reviews it received. I'm going to be honest, it wasn't what I expected but that doesn't make it bad. It was very dark, and very shocking; Had me completely on the edge of my seat throughout. You will have to watch it with an open mind as it is somewhat distasteful and well... extremely far-fetched (Which is pretty absurd for a satire, but I digress.) I did thoroughly enjoy it however, it hit all the right notes.
After watching the second episode, I was left in shock about the jarring contrast from the first episode. It's so different than the prior, it's set in an alternate reality and is just.. unusual. Still dark, still intriguing, but didn't quite capture my imagination the way the first one did.
The third and final instalment was probably my favourite of the 3. It was again, completely unrelated from the previous 2, but it had a really interesting concept and narrative, and was executed phenomenally.
All in all, the series as a whole is very interesting, if somewhat inconsistent.
Regardless of what anyone says, the reason this film is good is Tom Hardy. He truly has outdone himself with this performance, not one second do you doubt the deranged psychopath you are seeing.
From start to finish, this film had me on edge. This guy is a truly remarkable and unpredictable character - I made a game out of guessing who Bronson wasn't going to bust up next.
The film has many scenes that are not for the faint of heart, but what do you expect? Despite it's gritty style, it feels very artistic; The narration in particular is very unique and fits Hardy's interpretation of Bronson perfectly.
It is filled with entertaining fights and conversations. The level of Bronson's lunacy is somewhat funny if you are willing to take it with a pinch of salt. The films weak point is lack of characters with any depth or likability. Besides Bronson, they don't really bother characterising anyone - most of the cast come off like a cardboard cut out.
All in all, it's a solid drama/thriller about Charles Bronson, which is likely to entertain those who are not offended by violence or crime etc. If violence or blood makes you uncomfortable - it's probably okay to give this one a miss. 8/10.
Source Code (2011)
Incredibly Entertaining, Great Concept.
When I first heard of this film, I assumed it was going to be another weak, Hollywood blockbuster strung together with hundreds of mindless action sequences building up to a disappointing end. It seems that lately, Hollywood has realised the potential of mind-twisting concepts and is trying it's hardest to recreate Inception.
This film, however, has surpassed all of my expectations and has turned out to be... incredible. Well, Very good at least. The concept is solid - well thought out and intriguing and doesn't try to hard to confuse the audience for the sake of depth. It knows it's a Hollywood action film and doesn't pretend to be anything else. That's not saying it doesn't have any depth whatsoever - it just doesn't overwhelm the audience with irrelevant, or redundant information - It tells you what you need to know.
Combining with the incredible visuals and superb acting from Jake Gyllenhaal, this film is truly a film to see - it will have you hooked from start to finish. 8/10.