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Oblivion

The longer I think about it, the more utterly furious this movie makes me.

(SPOILERS, duh.)

Though I will say, Oblivion is an incredibly pretty movie. (Though is it me, or does all the tech look like it could have come straight out of Aperture Science?) It’s just gorgeous. The landscapes Tom Cruise flies over as Jack Harper left me absolutely breathless as a geologist (even while, as a geologist, my brain was screaming THAT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE). It’s beautiful. It’s stylish.

It makes no fucking sense.

I could go on and on about the ridiculous science (the moon blows up so there are earthquakes and tsunamis what) but frankly at this point, expecting a movie to have even a passing handshake relationship with science is really an invitation to just never enjoy another scifi film again. So fine, Oblivion, I will give you your ridiculous MacGuffins, and well may you enjoy them.

It’s the plot that does it. The plot is one where, if you can thread your suspension of disbelief along, it almost scans. And then something happens and WHAM you’re left wondering what kind of incoherent dartboard of ideas was used to produce this story. To be honest, I cannot even describe to you in detail what major plot holes really tripped me up. The plot has completely slipped from my mind, not because I wasn’t paying attention, but because the lack of internal logic honestly made it hard for me to parse the events when considering them later, while at the time it all superficially made sense. This is a movie that desperately wants to be a mind screw, and it almost succeeds as long as you clap your hands hard enough and believe in fairies. The reveals were shocking, until five minutes later my brain caught up and thought Now wait one damn minute

But no. The thing that has me breathing fire right now is the fact that of the three main characters in the movie, two were women, and there was not even a sliver of agency between the two of them. The only “female” character that got to be anything but a passive vehicle for Tom Cruise’s soulful or nutty looks was Sally, and I put female in quotation marks because she was, in fact, and evil alien computer thing that just happened to sound like a Southern belle.

And then he blew her up so. Oh well. He destroyed the only female that wasn’t a passive receptacle. Parse that how you will.

So much about this just chaps my ass. If nothing else, a giant point is made in the movie that Jack Harper was an astronaut, and thus one of the best the Earth had to offer. Well, both Victoria and Julia were astronauts on the same goddamn mission, and they were both utterly useless. Victoria existed only to mindlessly adhere to rules and regulations and then, in what I’m sure is complete adherence to the intelligence, determination, and curiosity inherent to being an astronaut, betrays Jack because she’s upset he likes another woman better than her. She doesn’t stop to ask why shit that makes no sense keeps happening. And then she gets blown up by a drone like a sad little foot note, having acted as the agent of her own death.

And Julia? A million times worse. She seems to exist only for Jack to save her repeatedly (four times, by my count) and then help him regain his memories by pointing out that she’s his wife. Oh, and get knocked up. The one meaningful decision she makes in the entire goddamn movie, which is to sacrifice herself with Jack to save humanity, is disregarded by him in one of the more obvious plot holes (where did they get another sleep chamber? how did they transfer her? why bother to put her in the sleep chamber at all except as deus ex machina?) in a way that I’m sure is supposed to be about twue wuv but really just highlights the fact that nothing a female character in this movie does has any goddamn meaning.

Argh. ARGH. I don’t know what makes me angrier, that I sat through two hours of beautiful wasted potential where the plot shit on me at every turn, or that this movie made me actually hope it would be good scifi.

Originally published at katsudon.net. You can comment here or there.

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