Oblivion (2013)


They Lied to You.  It’s Time to Learn the Truth.

Oblivion (2013)When I went to the theaters to catch Star Trek, I had no reservations.  Today’s movie was less so.  I had seen the commercials for this movie and had an inkling of interest in the movie, but never enough that it would be the reason for me to make the trip to the theater.  Attaching it to a movie I wanted to see more made it much more palatable.  And I think it’s odd that I had no interest in this movie because I loved the game I assume it was based on.  In fact, I’ve loved the whole Elder Scrolls series.  I don’t know why they skipped past Daggerfall and Morrowind, but I’m still suspicious of how this game could be turned into a movie.  Do they just ignore all the side quests?  Otherwise, it would be way too long.  Well, we’ll find out as I review Oblivion, based on a graphic novel by Joseph Kosinski, written for the screen by William Monahan, Karl Gajdusek, and Michael Arndt, directed by Joseph Kosinski, and starring Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, and Zoë Bell.

It’s the future so Earth is having a bad couple of days.  In 2017 the Earth was destroyed in a battle with some invading aliens when we decided to drop some nukes all over this bitch.  The surviving humans moved to a colony on Saturn’s moon Titan, with a few sticking around to repair survey drones to keep the remaining aliens (called “Scavs”) from destroying the fusion power stations that power the colony.  Two such humans are Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria “Vic” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough), Jack’s navigator who sits on her butt while he does all the work and chats with their weirdo mission Commander Sally (Melissa Leo).  Things are going smoothly and Jack and Vic are preparing to end their stay on Earth when Jack stumbles across a radio tower that summons a pre-invasion American spacecraft back to Earth, containing a sexy astronaut named Julia (Olga Kurylenko) that Jack has been having dreams about (but who hasn’t been?), as well as some secrets that will rock the foundation of Jack’s world.

My low expectations for this movie allowed it to exceed my expectations.  It didn’t blow any minds, but the story was solid, the look was great, and the performances all worked for me.  The biggest problem I had with the movie is that it had nothing to do with the game it took its name from.  No Daedra or anything!  What the movie is similar to is the Matrix, various post-apocalyptic movies, and Independence Day.  We fuck up the planet like a child breaking a toy so no one else can play with it.  Never really makes sense.  Man apparently has the resources to build a space station to escape on, but we’re so stubborn about not giving up our planet that we’ll destroy it first.  Either we win or everyone loses.  On the other hand, I could kind of see us doing that.  The story can kind of be slow going throughout, having not a whole lot going on other than watching Jack fix robots and having little hints at the larger story be revealed slowly.  I started getting bored around the halfway point, especially when it was going pretty heavy on the relationship stuff.  Julia showing up creates a love triangle between her, Jack, and Victoria that they really drained for all it was worth, and it wasn’t worth a whole lot to me.  The only thing it got out of me was a laugh at how much ‘splaining Jack was going to have to do to the two ladies.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  Then the movie turns into Independence Day because the big plan is to fly yourself into the mothership and blow up.  Not the greatest plan to be sure, but I’m sure Jack took solace in the fact that he had plenty of spares if his plan didn’t work out.  But I don’t know how that even got close to working in the first place.  Sally is a super smart computer intelligence, but she can’t figure out that something is amiss when Tech 49 rides up in Tech 52’s ship, even though they shouldn’t know each other exist?  The numbers are written on his shirt and the ship.  Infants and monkeys can tell if two things don’t match.  ::END SPOILERS::

The movie does very well with its look.  Everything is visually well-realized.  It looks dystopian while still being pretty beautiful and spectacular.  It shows a lot of imagination in the designs of everything, from the fusion plants to the ship that Jack flies to the tower he lives in.  A dystopian movie is always able to solicit a bit of a reaction by showing familiar landmarks like the Empire State Building buried up to the top floor in sand.  The action is fairly rare in the movie, but most of it is good.  I liked the fight between Jack and the Scavs in the library because the look of it reminded me of Gears of War, with 80% less raspiness.

I was not surprised by the quality of the performances in the movie so much as I was surprised by the quality of the actors they got.  I only knew one of them going into the movie, but I knew he was good.  The ones I didn’t know were in the movie were also as good as they usually are, but I didn’t know they were in it.  Tom Cruise is the only person I knew would be here, and he typically brings some quality.  I didn’t know who Andrea Riseborough was, but she was also pretty good.  I had no idea that Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, and the Kingslayer himself, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, were in this movie, but they tend to be good as well.  Kurylenko helped make it easy for me to relate to Tom Cruise in this movie because I dream of Kurylenko too.  Who wouldn’t?  Morgan Freeman’s appearance was a bit bothersome to me at first, but only because he came off as a bad guy in the movie.  I don’t like Morgan Freeman as a bad guy.  He’s a great actor with a lot of range, but he’s just so likeable.  That was one of the main problems I had with the movie Wanted.  That and it being entirely mediocre.  Melissa Leo also did a good job.  Her role didn’t seem to require much out of her as she was just vaguely robotic, but also somehow bitchy.  And she got much more bitchy by the end.  They should’ve called her HAL-E from the way she looked at the end.  That’s not a WALL-E reference, but a HAL reference, just so we’re clear.  The only performances I really took issue with were those damned surveyor drones.  Those things were ungrateful pricks.

Oblivion was a fine enough movie, but perhaps not fine enough to inspire me to recommend that you see it in theaters.  The story was okay, but nothing spectacular and a little slow moving.  But the visual style and the performances were all impressive.  I could get behind recommending this movie as a rental eventually, but for the time being you can do without.  Oblivion gets “We won the war, but they destroyed half the planet” out of “Classic game.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

Django Unchained (2012)


Kill White People and Get Paid for it? What’s Not to Like?

Django Unchained (2012)It’s a heavy spoiler for this review that today’s movie made it into my top films of 2012, but I still feel obligated to give it the full review it never received. Near the end of the year, I was trying so hard to review as many movies from 2012 as I could that I pushed this one off so much that I didn’t feel like the memory was fresh enough to still write the review for it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I got around to reviewing it because there was no way that I wouldn’t be picking it up on BluRay the day it released. Well the time finally came that I could present you with my review of Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, James Remar, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, and Jonah Hill.

A group of slaves is being driven by the Speck Brothers until they’re stopped by a German dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who stops them looking to purchase one of their slaves named Django (Jamie Foxx). When the Speck Brothers decline, Schultz guns them down. Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers, who Schultz has a bounty for. After dealing with the Brittle Brothers, Django reveals that he’s been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz decides to help reunite them, taking Django on as an apprentice bounty hunter until they get a chance to free Broomhilda from the slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

This movie is awesome, but I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that it’s Tarantino’s best movie to date. And that is a huge compliment. When your movie is potentially coming in third to Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, you know you’re doing alright in your career. And Django does not disappoint Tarantino fans, at least not this one. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a movie about slavery to be. Tarantino takes what could be a really heavy premise and injects it with his particular brand of humor, which you can see all over the place, such as Don Johnson’s character telling one of his slaves to not be so hasty when jumping to the conclusion that she should treat Django like a white man when he suggested to treat him better than she’d treat other slaves. Even though the scene could’ve technically been left out of the movie, I also enjoyed the scene where the racists were preparing to lynch Django and got into a discussion about the eyeholes on their hoods because it was pretty damned funny. Of course, Tarantino usually writes some funny and/or compelling dialogue, my favorite in this movie being between Django and Schultz more often than not. I guess the dialogue did seem a bit off in their unrealistically low use of the N-word for a movie taking place in the South, but I’ll let that slide as well. The only thing I took issue with in the whole story was the plan to rescue Broomhilda. They determined that they couldn’t just offer to buy her, and they also couldn’t offer to buy one of Candie’s fighters unless they came at him with a ridiculous sum of money, so they had to come up with this big ploy to offer the money and ask to take Broomhilda as a signing bonus. I don’t know why they didn’t just offer a crazy sum of money for Broomhilda in the first place. I suppose part of their idea was to only pay $2,000 for her and act like they’d come back with the rest later, but if they’d just offered $5,000, Django would’ve been good for it. It’s not like he didn’t help him raise at least that much money, thusly earning it for himself. And it’s not like he had anything else he wanted, so he could drop all that money to get his wife back. It’s a major point in the story, but a minor qualm from me. I got over it.

The action in this movie was over the top, but always in a fun way. It was like the Expendables in that when someone gets shot, they are sent flying in an explosion of red mist. But unlike the Expendables, this movie was good. And watching Django go into Candieland and fuck shit up was fantastic. The only real problem I had with the look in the movie was having to see someone’s hairy black nutsack, up close and personal.

The biggest sell of this movie had to be the performances. Everyone in this movie put on a clinic for amazing performances. Jamie Foxx started off pretty meek, but quickly turned into a badass. We already knew he had the comedy chops, but I don’t really recall seeing him as a badass action hero that often in the past. He wears it well. Christoph Waltz cannot seem to go wrong when pairing up with Tarantino. Waltz is great in everything I’ve seen him do, but he’s magic with Tarantino. My mom tried to get me to describe what it is about him that makes everyone talk about him with such reverence. I don’t really have the words. After more than 450 reviews, I still don’t know how to put what I think of Waltz into words. But I also can’t tell my mom to watch the movies to see him in action because my mom can’t handle violence, and his two best performances that I’ve seen were in movies lousy with violence. I think you just haveta see him to believe him. Leonardo DiCaprio is also fantastic in this movie, playing Candie as very charming but believably sadistic. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie as well as the racist asshole slave, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen Jackson allow himself to look closer to his age. He’s 64 years old! Black don’t crack. Speaking of racist things, Walton Goggins is also in this movie. I’m not saying he’s actually a racist, but he does give good racism. He’s really good at saying the N-word. Speaking of which, I think that must be tough for all non-racist white people in this movie, as I’m sure all of them were. If I were in this movie and I had to sling the N-word around like that, I’d be ruining every take by yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, everybody! Alright, back into the scene.”

Django Unchained is awesome. Excellent story with great –and often hilarious – dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. The action is lots of fun and every performance in the movie is what other actors should study for their own betterment. This movie is easily in Tarantino’s top three best movies, which is the best compliment I can give with an already illustrious career. This is a movie you should’ve seen when it was in theaters, but if that time is passed then you should go buy it right now. Django Unchained gets “Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic” out of “I like the way you die, boy.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE! YouTube OTHER JOKES HERE! Twitter BE A FAN HERE! Facebook If you like these reviews so much, spread the word. Keep me motivated! Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!