Monday, August 12, 2013

Movie Review: Oblivion

Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?  These questions, known as the five W's are the core of story telling.  A well constructed story will make the reader/viewer/listener (because this is a movie review we'll just call them viewers) ask all of these questions.  It will also answer all of these questions in one way or another.  Often times, a simply constructed story can be well done by creating and answering 5W questions.  For instance, the simplest way to include these questions may be as such:

-Who is the protagonist?
-What is he/she trying to accomplish?
-When does the story take place?
-Where does the story take place?
-Why do the events in the story happen?

To dive a little deeper, let's see what a more complex blueprint might look like based around those same questions:

-Who is the protagonist?  Who is the antagonist?  Who are the allies to each side?  Who are the factions involved?
-What is the conflict?  What fuels the conflict?  What is the plan to solve it?
-When does this story happen?  When will it finish?  If there is a time limit, when does it end?  When did it start?
-Where does this story take place?  Where are the characters from?  Where are they going?
-Why is there conflict?  Why are the characters here in the story?  Why did they make that choice?

As you can see, things can get very specific very quickly.  Of course some of these questions; specifically "why" and "what" can come up more often.  "Why did he let him live?"  "Why did she not push the button?"  "What is this thing?"  "What is that thing?"

As story telling techniques have adapted over the years, we have been getting more adventurous with mixing up these questions, therefore "who" has become a more popular question, and more of a mysterious one at that.  Of course mystery is something that adds to the thrill of the story and the payoff at the end when all of the viewer's questions are answered (or at least the important ones.  Some questions are best left either to the imagination, or unanswered entirely).  "Who is this new character being introduced 55 minutes into the movie?  I can't wait to find out!"

Now you're asking, "When are you going to get to reviewing the movie you said you were going to?"  Well the answer to that is, I have been indirectly criticizing Oblivion throughout this whole thing thus far.  How?  Here's how:

Oblivion starts out completely top notch. There is an immediate intrigue: Who are these two characters?  What are they doing here?  What year is it (when)?  Where are they?  And eventually, why are they doing what they are doing?

We soon find out who the two characters in the beginning are, but are soon introduced to a seemingly familiar face through a dream, but we don't know who it is.  We later find out where they are and the year.  Questions are being answered left and right, soon we even find out what they are doing and the reason why.  Great, all questions answered before the movie is half way done, what now?  Well now comes the twist.

A chunk of the way through the movie, we are introduced to a bunch of new characters, a few new settings, and even a new plot line.  Suddenly we have all new questions which we eagerly await the answers to.  As we receive a few convoluted answers to a few of these questions, the end draws near.

We have reached the final ascent on the plot line.  The tides have turned, the teams have changed, as have the stakes.  Preparations have been made and the plan to end the conflict once and for all has been set into motion.  The audience sits on the edge of their seats as they await a final and epic climax where our fearless hero is about to come face to face with the true villain of this tale.  However when finally the end arrives, we are left with only more questions:

The enemy was not who we expected, and its origin is unknown.  Its motivations are unknown.  Its very essence is unknown.  Although in the end, the hero fulfills his mission and the resolution is a happy one as demonstrated in the aftermath of his actions, we are still left wondering.

-Who?  Who was the enemy after all?
-What?  What did that enemy really want?
-When?  When did the enemy arrive?
-Where?  Where did the enemy come from?
-Why did the enemy even bother with any of this?

We can speculate, but we may never know.  Are we meant to know?  I don't know if we are meant to know, but as a viewer if I do not know if I am meant to know, then I feel like I am meant to know and simply do not.  Where does that leave me?  Awaiting a sequel?  Maybe, but I would more accurately describe it as unfulfilled and a little disappointed.

Should you buy Oblivion?  Sure, if you're looking for an exciting futuristic movie and have the coin to drop, do it!  Should you buy it on blu-ray?  Well it looks pretty dang good on blu-ray and you get that nifty digital copy with it, so if you want to drop the extra six-eight or so dollars/pounds, yes you should.  Should you rent Oblivion?  Absolutely.  The visuals are stunning and the soundtrack is brilliant (if you like the Mass Effect-esqu, futuristic style of music), so yes, at least rent it for a night, you will still enjoy it.

I could get into the details like acting and visuals but come on, it's a Hollywood movie, of course everything is darn near perfect it the technical department.  Plus, if you've made it all the way to here, you're probably sick of reading.

So there you have it:  Oblivion.

Thanks for reading this far if you did.  If you didn't, well you're not reading this so you don't get a thank you.  Check back here periodically for more of these reviews (seems to be what this blog has become) and some other fun stuff!

Until next time, keep watching movies, keep playing video games, and keep breathing (that's an important one).  Cheers guys.

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