All written content (c) 2013 Mike Pascale. Visuals are copyright their respective owners.
First, let me get the important stuff out of the way. My heartfelt condolences and sympathies to anyone affected directly or indirectly by the tragedy in the Boston area. That includes everything from losing a loved one to getting shut out of the Boston Comic con after travelling and/or waiting in line to set up. To that point, I urge you to visit the We Win Con, a non-profit setup to help the artists most affected by the convention’s postponement. Check it out and please share with your own social networks. They have a web site and Facebook page. Thanks.
Now to the movies!
I saw Tom Curise’s new sci-fi epic, OBLIVION and learned a few things:
1), it’s based on a graphic novel.
2), that graphic novel was co-written by the director/producer/co-writer of the film, Joseph Kosinksi.
And 3), according to Wikipedia, that graphic novel was not published by Radical Comics.
So how does an unpublished GN become involved in a Hollywood studio bidding war and get made into a multi-million dollar film? I have no idea. I don’t even know if a single page was ever penciled or if it was just a script. But the fact that Kosinksi also directed (and co-wrote?) TRON: LEGACY may have something to do with it. Otherwise, I can see a horde of small-press comics writers descending upon Hollywood to shove their scripts in execs’ faces.
Regarding the film itself, here are the bullet points:
–Visually stunning landscapes and sets. Props to cinematographer Claudio Miranda. Shooting apocalyptic landscapes in Iceland may not be as unique and special as it was a couple years ago (PROMETHEUS really made major use of the location) and will soon be as recognizable to film goers as Monument Valley is to western fans. But there was a delightful contrast between the black volcanic rockscapes and lush greenery in this film. Some parts reminded me of Yosemite National Park.
–The ship and building designs are equally awesome. Sure enough, the vehicles were designed by Daniel Simon, the genius behind the vehicles and tech in TRON: LEGACY. Love the way the ships move. The Drones—circular flying robots assigned to take out alien invaders—were suitably scary and formidable.
–While I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise the person, Tom Cruise the actor still knows how to pull the part off well. Very believable here and refreshingly understated. (Some may think too much so.) Morgan Freeman is always nice to watch, even when it’s phoned in. Then again, there wasn’t much to his character to begin with. I thought Andrea Riseborough was more convincing than Olga Kurylenko.
–An intelligent script. You have to pay attention to the storyline here. (My wife asked me to explain parts of it to her afterwards; once she “got it”, she appreciated it more.) This is much more than just stuff blowing up. A “con” for some, I’m sure. But there’s a major twist about halfway thru which I did not see coming. And the explanation made sense. (It took four guys to write/re-write the script, which usually makes me leary. But overall it works.) Normally I’d expect critics and film goers to trash anything they have to think about, but many loved INCEPTION and this is easier to grasp than that, so we’ll see.
–There’s a series of back-and-forth flashback/present scenes toward the end, and the only major visual to really distinguish them is the cut on Tom’s nose. I wish the filmmakers had used some visual techniques to make the storytelling clearer.
–The previews with Morgan Freeman tend to give a bit too much away.
–Without giving anything away, there’s a scene where a female character holds up her hand and suddenly realizes it’s covered with blood and that she’s hurt. How did it happen? We’re never told. She either got shot or was hurt in a crash landing. If the latter, who the hell gets shot in the abdomen and doesn’t feel it? Especially a potentially-fatal direct hit. (We’re talking a skinny model-type woman.) If the former, who gets up from the wreckage and runs a dozen yards without realizing they have a major wound? Doesn’t work – could have been handled much better.
–A little long. Some parts seemed padded.
OVERALL RATING: See it. I saw it in DFX (a “baby IMAX”) and really enjoyed it more. The scenery and sets really draw the viewer in. Depending on the special features, I may “own it” when the DVD comes out. Would love to see more of the “how”.
What did you think?
P.S.: If you’d like your own commission of science fiction original art, or any other genre, I’m your guy. Just contact Craig.