Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sci-Fi Triple threat! - Oblivion, After Earth & Enders Game

Seeing as how I feel like shit today I decided to break with tradition and watch some modern, mainstream fillums.

Yeah I know, but I'm on some strong medication at the minute so it impairs my ability to think rationally.

So the first offering from Hollywoods organ is:-

Oblivion - (2013)

Hmm, this one is based on a "hugely popular graphic novel" (that I've never heard of) and stars Tom Cruise (bad sign right there), Morgan Freeman (hes roughing it), Olga Kurylenko and some other people, none of whom I have ever heard of.

Plot then..erm, well, first off the film lambasts us for causing a shitload of environmental damage but then says that at some point post the year 2017 we get attacked by ALEONZ!111!!11, whom we promptly beat by nuking the fuck out of our own planet, thus requiring the survivors to up sticks and move to Titan (umm, why not mars?, no seriously, it is the best prospect for human colonisation and its much bigger and closer than fucking Titan...*face/palm*).
So yadda yadda yadda, Tom Cruise does some hero shit and saves the day...if you wanna know the full plot go watch it....however, I do have the following criticisms, which are spoilers:-

#1 - Cliche-o-rama.
If you can think of a cliche, this film has it.
There's the obligatory implied sex scenes (in order to give the audience some level of titillation while at the same time making sure that it is suitable for teen aged audiences), theres an aerial chase scene in which the aircraft is flown into and chased along a canyon, escaping by flying through an impossibly narrow crack, there's a machine gun battle, there are drawn out "kung fu esque" fist fights, and at one point, Mr Cruise gets to ride a motorbike (like he does in nearly every film he is in)

#2 - "you will find this woman attractive".
Hollywood likes to tell the male audience who they should have sexual fantasies over, and in which order of preference they should play with themselves over the pieces of meat that are paraded on screen.
In this case, we are initially told to find Andrea Riseborough attractive, because for some reason she seems to spend most of the film being stereotypically British, as well as having seemingly permanently dialated pupils (a sign of female sexual arousal). She also spends a lot of time wearing just enough so that you  cant see any skin, but not so much as you don't get a hint of tit from time to time (although you get full on arse when she decides to go for random swim, however thanks to the miracle of airbrushing, there's no boob or pubic region on show - sowwee boys, but this is a 12a cert film).
All of this careful teasing though goes straight out the window once Olga character makes her appearance, in which case she becomes the main lust interest of the piece but operates under the same rules, no skin, "funny" accent and oddly enough but something I'm noticing a lot in modern films, "women go barefoot during emotional scenes"...yeah, keep a look out for it, every time an emotional scene/romantic scene is played out in this movie, the women are always barefoot, but during scenes where they are supposed to be relaxing or conducting business type dialogue, they suddenly remember to wear their stiletto heels. Hollywood has a foot fetish.

#3 - Heroic bloodshed.
The films two heroes gets to die a glorious death to save the human race, but one of them manages to come back (hint: its not the black guy)...yeah I know this should really be a cliche but seriously, its a cop out ending.

So all in all, I Give Oblivion a 7 out of 10, because although its a cliche ridden piece of cheese, its still somewhat entertaining and the visual effects are quite pretty to look at. Id have given it an 8/10, but the wooden acting and cliche shit put me off.

After Earth - 2013

So, this one is based on an idea by Will Smith himself, so he did what he usually does and casts himself and his son in the two lead roles.
I'm not gonna bother going into the plot for this one because simply put, there isn't anything really worth mentioning.
Suffice to say,t his entire film is a simple "why does my daddy not love me" story which didn't need to have the sci-fi element tacked on to it (the story could easilly have been told in modern times with father and son being out on a camping trip together or something), being as that the only real major plot element hinges on "Kitai" (Smith jr) getting his daddys (Smith sr) respect by overcoming his fear and killing a bear-monster in order to save his injured dad.

An awful piece of pseudo sci-fi trash which is obviously influenced in some manner by scientology, and goes on way, way too long to be interesting in any way, shape or form.

3/10 - simply for some impressive special effects.

Enders Game - 2013

Based on the popular sci-fi/moralising series of novels by Orson Scott Card, the film stars Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and some kids who ive never heard of.
Essentially a "Harry Potter in space" type affair, Enders game tells the story of a young outcast who manages to get ahead in life simply by being smarter than just about everyone  around him, although that said, his childlike naivete doesnt allow him to see when he is being manipulated.

I quite enjoyed this film, out of the three I watched tonight, it was my favourite. Although some of the scenes in the film watch like bad passages from any number of "weird school" type books (which in essence is the archetype that Enders game falls into, hence why I said "Harry Potter in space"), and the film tones down the level of violence and aggression found in the original book somewhat, the main storyline manages to survive on to film more or less intact.
Harrison Ford makes a good performance as the ruthless and pragmatic colonel Graff, and even Asa Butterfield manages to play "Ender" Wiggins very well, alternating between his naive childlike state to his ruthless and sometimes sadistic state without making it seem false or forced.

The story itself is an interesting one, which essentially boils down to a tale of a young man striving for acceptance and eventually learning to firstly accept the consequences of his actions, and secondly to take an active role in controlling his own life and destiny, rather than simply tagging along for the ride as many of his contemporaries do.
The film also takes on the subject of bullying in a fairly positive way, commending careful consideration of options before taking matters into your own hands.

Yeah, I liked this film - 9/10

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