Oblivion by Joseph Kosinski

Oblivion by Joseph Kosinski

A veteran assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.

Unlike a lot of science fiction films that often have busy mechanical designs and crowded backgrounds, there is a very distinct simplicity to Oblivion’s production designs. The empty barren Icelandic landscapes, machines and buildings built in straight clean lines and the bright daylight all help create an effective atmosphere. The film is beautifully shot and finds a natural beauty in post-apocalyptic destruction. Often I found myself just gazing upon the landscapes and felt awe watching huge robotic monolithic ships harvesting the Earth’s water. Oblivion should definitely print a production art book.

The best performance in the film is Andrea Riseborough’s. A lot of the intrigue and mystery of what’s really going on behind this world is built from Riseborough’s performance. The intrigue is built so well that the beginning section with her and Tom Cruise makes up for the more interesting portion. She plays a very fine line between someone who is concealing a secret or not wanting to know the truth. As the audience, we cannot tell which one it is.

There are little Americanisms in the film that are problematic. At the beginning, Tom Cruise’s character lands an aircraft on Earth. As he gathers his gear, he puts on a New York Yankees baseball cap. Why? Even if it were a blue-collar habitual daily routine, why wouldn’t he have put it on before flying the aircraft? Wouldn’t there be more sun in the sky than in the ground? It’s not a big deal, and it took me out of the movie a bit.

Oblivion draws upon a lot of science fiction films in the past. Example? Let’s just say Tom Cruise jogs on a treadmill that is not rectangular. For that, science fiction fans may have a harder time enjoying Oblivion as they may fall into an accidental game of ‘spot the reference’. I personally didn’t have a problem with that. It doesn’t bring anything new to the science fiction genre but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The Raid: Redemption by Gareth Evans

The Raid: Redemption by Gareth Evans

Plot Summary: A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

What The Raid: Redemption successfully achieves is it makes the onscreen violence threatening once again. There’s no joke in these fights, everybody is fighting to kill and is doing it as efficiently as they can so they can get to the next guy without a moment’s rest. It’s brutal, tough and had me cringing at many instances. It was very much a throwback to 80’s Hong Kong action cinema.

The story is simple enough to set up the action scenes but still manages to give some twists and turns.

A trope I often look forward to in martial arts/action films is the henchmen. A good characterized henchman can add a lot of dimension to story as well as build up to the final climax. There’s a real badass henchman here who’s genuinely a scary mofo. The henchman stole the show!

Iko Uwais is a charming martial arts leading man. Gareth Evans and him seem to have a good thing going, hopefully they can keep working together in future projects. Speaking of which, they’ve already planned  a sequel to this movie. I can’t help but wonder how they’ll top the fights in a second film. I look forward to it nonetheless.

Highly recommended. One of the best surprises of 2012.