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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Movie Review: Oblivion

Once in a while, a movie comes along that you've been waiting your whole life for. A movie that makes you feel something deep inside that you can't quite explain, all you know is that you want to share this feeling with the world. A movie that you never get tired of watching, no matter how many times you see it. A movie that you learn new things about each time, and with each time, you love it more. For me, that movie is Oblivion.

So what is it that makes this movie so special? Honestly, I'm not really sure.

Maybe it's the theme. Oblivion is crafted from the fibers of my favorite genre, Science Fiction. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world, which I love, and features a man on a mission, sent to retrieve Earth's remaining resources after a war has destroyed the planet, and along the way he discovers things that make him question himself and his purpose. And there is a splash of romance thrown in... Well, possibly more than a splash. And of course, every woman loves a little romance, whether she will admit it or not. And the way they go about the romance in this movie is uniquely moving. But there are plenty of Science Fiction movies out there, even some that are laced with romance. So, that can't be it.

Maybe it's the music. In fact, at first, it WAS the music for me. When I first watched the film, I kept turning to my husband and saying "OMG, this music is gorgeous!" and "Best soundtrack ever!" LOL. Needless to say, we ended up getting the soundtrack, which is an immaculate work of art by the amazing M83 and Joseph Trapanese. I literally spent weeks immersing myself in the musical masterpiece that is the Oblivion soundtrack. My favorite tracks are "Starwaves" (which is so breathtakingly gorgeous and moving and intense that it singlehandedly inspired what is probably the most disturbingly romantic scene in the entire Scifi saga I've been writing), "Earth 2077" (an inspiring and uplifting almost Mass Effect sounding song), "I'm Sending You Away" (sorrow and joy wrapped into one crescendo like a hurricane - it doesn't really get interesting until the half way point, but after that, it's beautiful), and of course the title track "Oblivion" featuring Susanne Sundfor (which I didn't love when I first heard it in the credits, but it quickly grew on me when I blasted it in my headphones for 3 days straight. I've never heard anything quite like it. It is amazing. I also plan to make a Dragon Age video to it someday - weird choice, I know, but for me, it works.)

Phew! This could have been a blog just about the soundtrack. Obviously it's one of the things that makes this movie (as any movie) great, but there is still more to a movie than the music, so that can't be it either.

Maybe it's the cinematography. Claudio Miranda's use of light and the color choices in this movie are brilliant, making Oblivion a feast for not just the ears, but the eyes as well. Most of the movie has a sort of grayish tone, except for certain key moments, which are ablaze with color. It connects you subconsciously to what is happening at those moments. I didn't even notice it until probably my third time watching, and I love it when a movie can pull that kind of visual subtlety off. 

Or, maybe it's the editing. As a video editor myself, I get so mad at movies when they don't change a shot or scene to the music. Sometimes lazy editing can even ruin a whole movie for me. But I didn't notice it with this movie. And again, about the third time watching it, I began to notice how fluidly and seamlessly the scenes and shots changed to the music, thanks to Richard Francis-Bruce, and how the music reflected what was happening in the scene perfectly.

But I'm getting back into music now. Ahem. Moving on... 

I know what it's not. It's not the fact that Tom Cruise stars in the movie. No offense to him or anyone that likes him, but he's never been my favorite actor. In fact, I'll often opt out of seeing a movie just because he's in it. However, I think this is probably the best role he's ever played. He was so convincing in the part that I was able to forget I was watching Tom Cruise and really believe he was the character. And the rest of the cast is amazing in this film, especially Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough. Both ladies have such emotion and believability in their faces, and even in their eyes. It really helps you connect to what their characters are going though.

But still, it's not my favorite cast. None of my favorite actors or actresses are in this film. So what is it?

Maybe it's the thought-provoking quotes throughout the film. Some of my favorites (hopefully without giving too much away) are "It's our job not to remember... Remember?" and "It's just a machine... I'm the weapon." As well as a line near the end that says "Everybody dies... The thing is to die well." And a beautiful quote from the very end of the film "If we have souls, they are made of the love we share - undimmed by time, unbound by death." 

The movie also borrows a quote from Macaulay's depiction of Horatius in "Lays of Ancient Rome" which is probably the most repeated and most popular quote from the movie - "And how can a man die better, than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods." 

All of these quotes not only make the movie gripping and believable, but get you to think about the meaning of life and why we are here. Our purpose. Both as individuals, and as a species. This movie sparked some really great conversation between my husband and myself, and when we showed my mother in law, she was still bringing it up days later. It's the kind of movie that sticks with you, and I think a large part of the reason for that is quotes like this, and the writing in general.

Speaking of the writing, this movie also has some great plot twists, which I always love in movies (it's one of many reasons Shyamalan is my favorite writer/director - and no, he didn't work on this movie - Oblivion was written and directed by Joseph Kosinski). It leaves you speechless, wondering what happened after the events of the movie, and again, contemplating the meaning of life and all that jazz. 

But as good as the writing is, it's not just that either. Maybe it's a combination of all of these elements together that makes me love this movie so much. That, and the underlying message, which I also think every good movie should have. Whether it's accessible to the average viewer's mind or not, a good film always has a message. You feel it tugging at you deep inside, urging you to live your life to the fullest, to strive for greatness, to be a better person. Oblivion does that. I personally think the underlying message has to do with the government and media trying to control us and strip us of our humanity, which if you haven't noticed yet, they are slowly but surely succeeding at. 

Some say the underlying message in this film is Scientology related, since Tom Cruise is in it, but I'm not so sure. And NO, I am not a Scientologist. Nowhere near it. I just think there is much more to this movie than that. I think that at its core, it's trying to do the exact opposite of controlling the viewer's mind. I think it's trying to open the viewer's mind to the notion that there ARE forces out there trying to control us, and I think it's urging us to take a stand against those forces and fight to keep our humanity intact.

But don't take my word for it. If you haven't yet, see it for yourself. You will either love it or hate it, but either way, you will be forever changed by Oblivion. Whether you know it or not. ;) 

Stay Frosty, 

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