Movie Review: Oblivion

I’ve been on a Tom Cruise kick lately – and 2013’s ‘Oblivion’ is about as scifi as Cruise gets.

Set in the year 2077, ‘Oblivion’ features a post-war Earth where humanity is living off-world in a giant vessel and in the process of moving to a liveable planet – one of Saturn’s moons, Titan.

 

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Humanity has escaped to ‘The Tet’ and is waiting to make the trip to Titan

 

Cruise plays a cross between a soldier and a tv repair guy, Tech 49, who’s stayed behind to maintain the mechanical drones that are protecting the giant fusion generators as they suck up the last of Earth’s water in preparation for the trip to Titan.

 

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Does Tom Cruise ever not play a soldier? I can’t think of the last time I saw him in a film where he didn’t carry a gun.

 

Along with his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) they make a very ‘effective team’ and are just two weeks away from joining the others on the trip to Titan when things go awry.

 

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Riseborough gives a great performance as Cruise’s girlfriend and plays the stable, obedient partner to Cruise’s unpredictable, risk-taker.

 

Given that the film is written and directed by Joseph Kosinski, who’s famed for his computer generated imagery and computer graphics, the film has a very slick, high-tech feel.

 

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Kosinski originally sold the film rights for his unpublished graphic novel ‘Oblivion’ to Disney – who later had to relinquish the rights because they couldn’t get below a PG-A rating.

 

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Okay, so there’s usually a gun in Tom Cruise films. But there’s also usually a motorbike, and ‘Oblivion’ is no exception. Leads me to wonder how much influence Cruise is having on his movies.

 

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Kosinski is better known for CGI-related TV commercials, but made his big screen film debut in 2010 with ‘Tron: Legacy’ (sequel to the original ‘Tron’).

 

With a great soundtrack and solid supporting cast in Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo and Olga Kurylenko, this film is visually driven and the slower narrative will frustrate those who prefer a faster-paced action film.

 

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Morgan Freeman gives a credible performance despite his somewhat ridiculous costume. Extra kudos to him for wearing his sunglasses. All the time. Does he even have eyes…?

 

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Melissa Leo is seriously creepy as the ever-present, ever-watching Mission Commander.

 

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Olga Kurylenko is true to the feel of the film – visually stunning but a little light on substance and narrative.

 

I enjoyed this film and recommend it to scifi lovers who love big stunning visuals and don’t mind a slower pace. And of course, Tom Cruise fans.

 

You can check out the official trailer here:

 

Movie Review: The Homesman

‘The Homesman’ is a 2014 western film set in the relentless grit of the 1850s Midwest.

Directed by Tommy Lee Jones, there is a strangeness to the film that has come to mark some of these newer westerns – and I found ‘The Homesman’ to be on my mind for days after I saw it.

Despite the title, the film is really about women, with Hillary Swank giving an outstanding performance as the heroic and courageous, Mary Bee Cuddy.

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The storyline centres around her journey to take three insane women through hostile territory to the nearest township where they can receive proper care.

She is joined by George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) who is a particularly unempathetic character – and who’s really the film’s only villain.

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With talented supporting actresses in the cast such as Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter, I wanted more from them and was disappointed with their lack of dialogue.

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However I enjoyed the film’s slower pace, the spectacular scenery and a woman’s perspective on survival in such an unforgiving environment. 

It’s available on Netflix and you can check out the official trailer here:

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Summer blockbuster season is here (Hooray!!) and ‘Jurassic World’ has broken North American box office records with an opening weekend of $208 million.

So why all the hype? 

First of all, dinosaurs: lots of dinosaurs. Big, small, swimming, flying, running, cute vegetarians, and scary-as-hell predators.

The animatronics, CGI and sound effects in the film are incredible. They’ve even managed to maintain the wildness of the creatures – and not overly-humanise them.

 

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As the fourth in the ‘Jurassic Park’ series, the movie itself is satisfyingly predictable – with some seriously heart-thumping moments and stunning visuals.

The cast is well-rounded with plenty of classic archetypes including the tough guy hero (Chris Pratt – looking super beefed up), the heartless corporate head (Bryce Dallas Howard – is that real hair?), the eccentric business owner (Irrfan Khan – his usual thoughtful performance), quirky tech nerds, cute lost kids (what’s with the haircuts?), evil scientists, and manipulative military dudes.

 

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With the intense volume (it gets really loud), the level of violence, suspense and dinosaur-eating gore in the film, definitely not recommended for kids or faint-of-heart.

If you love dinosaurs like I do, this film is no-brainer. Go see it on the biggest screen you can find.

 

Check out the official trailer here:

 

The critics missed the point

Spaghetti Westerns are a sub genre of Western films so called because they were mostly directed and produced by Italians. The typical team was made up of an Italian Director, Italian-Spanish technical team and cast – with the occasional fading Hollywood star and sometimes a rising one such as Clint Eastwood. The films were typically shot in cheap locations (with lots of Spanish extras) that resembled the American Southwest and between 1960 and 1975, European film companies made nearly 600 hundred Westerns!

These films were often panned by the critics for their brutality and high body counts but for me what remains long after the final credits have rolled has really got nothing to do with the bullets or bodies falling.

It’s the lonely trumpet that plays a dirge for those about to die, the piercing blue eyes of Frank as he sizes you up, the black clad specter dragging a coffin through the streets, the foreboding whistle of a mysterious stranger as he rides into town….