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Based on the Trailer: Oblivion

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Why do aliens always have to wreck our stuff?  Why can’t they just stay on their own planets and live happy, peaceful lives with their families?  But no, they’ve always got to come blow up the White House or graffiti our cornfields or stick our heads on the bodies of Chihuahuas.  And sometimes they make such a mess that we don’t even feel like picking up after them.  And that’s where this movie comes in.

Oblivion shows us a future in which Earth is rendered uninhabitable in the wake of a war with aliens.  In the midst of that apocalyptic future, one man searches for the truth behind the war and his own past.  But is this film a masterpiece in the making or just a waste of our time?  Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out.  (To follow along, go to YouTube and look up “Oblivion Official Trailer #1 Tom Cruise Sci-Fi Movie HD.”)

The star of this movie is Tom Cruise, one of Hollywood’s best known actors whose previous films include the Mission Impossible franchise, Top Gun, Minority Report, and Jerry Maguire.  He’s no stranger to fighting off aliens, either; War of the Worlds has given him plenty of experience.  Costar Morgan Freeman brings yet another big name to the movie; he has received acclaim for his roles in Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, and Se7en.  We also have relative newcomer Olga Kurylenko as Jack’s love interest.  Even though her career hasn’t been high profile, she still brings plenty of action film experience to the film with her past roles in Quantum of Solace, Hitman, and Max Payne.  We also have Andrea Riseborough, whose film career seems to consist mainly of independent films such as W.E., Happy-Go-Lucky, and Made in Dagenham.  The movie is directed by Joseph Kosinski.  His only major film to date is TRON: Legacy, which was an entertaining movie and visually impressive.  It seems safe to expect the same from this film.

The trailer opens on a devastated football stadium as Jack works to repair a drone.  Jack tells his coworker, played by Andrea Riseborough, about the last Super Bowl game, played in this very stadium.  And apparently, it was a blowout game.  Also, Jack is telling us about a football game while wearing a Yankees ball cap.  The irony is not lost on me.  Anyway, he narrates that there was a war with aliens.  Although the humans won, the planet is so devastated that it had to be evacuated, and now “nothing human remains.”  Excuse me, Jack, but aren’t you a human?  You’re remaining, even if it is only temporary.  So technically, your sentence is not true.

This is our introduction to Jack, the main character.  When he’s not playing basketball in the woods, hanging out with stray dogs, or watering his tin can garden, he works as part of a drone repair team.  And by part of the team, I mean he seems to do pretty much all the work while Andrea sits around in their headquarters.  Actually, why do they even need drones?  It’s not like they want to hold onto Earth; it’s in shambles and evacuated.  They could go find another habitable planet or build a nice space station and just live there.  Why do they need drones to hold onto a planet they’ve already lost?  I’m not sure if this is something that makes sense in the trailer, foreshadowing for the obvious twist, or just bad writing.  But anyway, in two weeks the drones will be self-sustaining or the next repair crew will come in and replace them.  Either way, Jack and Andrea get to go home as long as Jack doesn’t do anything stupid.  You know, like going alone into an underground church that’s probably full of aliens.  Which of course he does and gets caught.

But it turns out the head “alien” is actually God from Bruce Almighty, and all the other “aliens” were his secret army.  What were you saying about no humans remaining, Jack?  Anyway, God tells Jack he’s been watching him (which would make a lot more sense if he actually were an omniscient God instead of a man who should not have access to comprehensive surveillance technology on a demolished planet).  He asks what Jack is looking for in his books.  My bet is he’s looking for romantic poetry so he can ask his coworker out.  But God tells Jack not to ask too many questions, like why there are so many humans on a planet that’s been evacuated of all human life, why they’re all hiding underground, or why Morgan ever agreed to be a part of Chain Reaction.

I guess the underground army just lets Jack go, because we see him investigating a crashed ship and the coffin-like pods it contains.  One pod contains Olga, the movie’s mystery woman who somehow knows Jack’s name.  Jack wonders how that’s possible, but I think it’s just because she’s the grown up Mia Sara from Legend.  Wouldn’t that have been a twist!  But before Jack can reflect on his past film career, all those drones he fixed appear and start killing the survivors.  I bet now you wish you hadn’t put all that time into repairing drones to protect a planet you’d already lost.  He goes to his partner for answers, but Andrea locks him out of their floating condo.  I’m no expert, but I’ve got to say she’s just not that into you.

From here, we move into the trailer’s action montage as Jack searches for the truth.  Morgan tells him, “If you’re looking for the truth, that’s where you’ll find it.”  Which would actually mean something if someone had said right before that, “Tell me about this specific place,” instead of talking like the audience already knows exactly what they’re talking about.  Great editing, guys.  Also, Jack asks Olga, “Who are you?”  She’s a gorgeous Russian woman with a gun.  What more do you need to know?  But wait, the humans are firing on aliens while the drones are firing on humans?  Who were the bad guys again?  This trailer is getting confusing.  And we wrap up the trailer with Jack getting caught in the classic bear trap on a string trick.  As Maxwell Smart would say, “That’s the second time I’ve fallen for that this month.”

So based on the trailer, would I recommend this movie?  I guess so.  This movie isn’t anything new or original; stories of alien invasion, apocalypse, amnesia, and conspiracy have all been done to death.  It feels so predictable that I can almost guess major plot points.  On the other hand, the movie looks great for a film in which the primary color is grey.  The action looks pretty fun, and it’s got Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman.  So if you’re a fan of those actors or of the sci-fi genre, or if you just like a safe mix of action-violence and sweeping visuals, you’ll probably want to check this film out.  Be forewarned, though, the action looks intense, so it’s probably not for younger audience members, but for older teens and adults, I say go see it if you’re interested.  Honestly, I’m not intrigued enough to see it in theaters, but I might rent it once it comes out on DVD.

So what do you think?  Did this review turn you off of the movie or spark your interest?  Was I fair to the film, or did I miss an opportunity to make fun of it?  Let me know in the comments, and if you see the movie, by all means let me know how it was!

Oblivion is owned by Universal Pictures.

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