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Non-Review Review: Oblivion

Director Joseph Kosinski wears his science-fiction interests on his sleeve. Tron: Legacy was obviously an update of an eighties science-fiction cult classic, and Oblivion feels like another form of pulpy homage. At its best, Oblivion feels like a spiritual successor to those wonderful cult science-fiction movies of the seventies and eighties, by way of classic version of The Outer Limits. Oblivion isn’t the strongest piece of science-fiction I’ve seen this year, nor the most ambitious, nor the most intelligent.

The movie is full of twists and turns, but few that any genre aficionado will fail to see coming. Instead, the movie largely works because it feels like an affectionate homage to those old-school post-apocalyptic pulpy sci-fi adventures. It’s cinematic nostalgia, but it’s lovingly crafted and skilfully rendered. Kosinski might not be the best storyteller working in the business, but he has a wonderful eye and keen sense of how to construct a beautiful scene.

On top (what remains of) the world...

On top (what remains of) the world…

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Watch! Trailer for Oblivion…

Universal just sent on this, the first trailer for Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. I’m a bit of a sucker for twisty, mind-bendy, high-concept science-fiction, and it looks like Oblivion might just deliver on that front. It’s from director Joseph Kosinski, who brought us Tron: Legacy – which is still a film I am very fond of. Anyway, have a look at the trailer and let me know what you think.

John Carter: A Disney Prince of Mars

It looks like John Carter didn’t make enough of a splash at the box office to justify a sequel. To tell the truth, I am more than a little disappointed, because I actually enjoyed the cheesy throw-back charm of a science-fantasy epic that didn’t feel the need for irony or wry self-awareness. However, it’s interesting to look at the movie as part of the Disney canon, and measured against the big Disney films released over the last couple of years (and planned through the end of this one). John Carter seems to fit alongside Tron: Legacy as part of a concentrated effort by the studio in recent years to shift away from their traditional “princess”-orientated features and to produce movies aimed at boys.

Boys are from Mars...

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That Pivotal Second Viewing…

As a film blogger, I tend to write reviews of films that I have never seen before. I occasionally take the opportunity to share my thoughts on classic films I have seen countless times, but most of my writing covers films I’ve only seen once. In some cases, that will be the first and only time that I see a movie. I have, for example, no desire to ever site through This Means War again. However, I occasionally find the second viewing of a film to be a much more enlightening and inspiring film, whether it crystalises my original opinion or perhaps even prompts a re-evaluation of my earlier thoughts. It’s interesting how different and distinct a film can appear each time you happen to watch it.

Twice the excitement...

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Farewell to Nerds: The Big Studios & Comic Con…

Last year, around this time, I was discussing how great it was to be a nerd or a geek. Hell, Comic Con in San Diego seemed like an obligatory stop-off point for the major studios promoting their latest blockbusters to an overly geeky crowd, debuting the trailer for Tron: Legacy or announcing the cast of The Avengers, not to mention footage and panels based around any number of big-screen blockbusters designed to cater towards the geeks and nerds in the movie-going audience. So it feels like a rather dramatic shift that very few of the major movie studios appear to be planning much for the iconic (or, at least, briefly iconic) Hall H in San Diego this year.

Does this mean that the era of the geek is over?

Will Stars stop Trekking to Hall H?

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How Do Studios Decide What Movies Get Sequels?

This is a question which has bothered me for quite a while now, because it seems like there should be an obvious answer, but I can’t really make a lot of decisions fit based on that. The deciding factor, one would assume, in any industry as to whether a product gets a continuation, a re-release, or a spin-off, would be that of box office. You imagine that the studio executives include an option for sequels in the contracts of any actors they want to stick around, and then wait for the box office totals to come in before they finally decide if they want to make the investment. However, this doesn’t always seem to be the case.

Should I get on my bike?

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10 out of 10: The Ten Best Movies of the Year

Contrary to popular opinion, I was actually relatively impressed with 2010 as a year in cinema. It was no 2008, with a consistent string of impressive hits (both big and small). However, it wasn’t as bitterly disappointing as 2009 was, with letdown after letdown. Sure, there weren’t that many hugely successful sequels or reboots, but the vast majority of them weren’t soul-destroying wastes of film. So I’m quite happy. This year I actually had to cut several items from the list to get it down to a perfect ten.

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