Tag Archives: movies

Oblivion is a secret masterpiece

Oblivion is a secret masterpiece

The sparse wasteland of Earth, circa AD 2077.

I can’t help but think that Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion is secretly a sci-fi film masterpiece. I don’t like being too superfluous but it has single-handedly made me think, question, re-think and imagine ideas and themes in the past hour MORE than Iron Man 3 did in the past week. And I LOVE Iron Man 3.

Many reviews about Oblivion noted it gets by from combing, meshing and melting ideas, themes and visuals from the generations of Sci-Fi films that have gone before. And I definitely agree, in part. I don’t think this film simply “gets by”. I think that the sci-fi tropes, technology and themes that audiences are familiar with form the surface layer of what this film tries to achieve.

Where this film made me think was trying to identify its central purpose or question. What was making me think? Was it Jack Harper and the mysteries of the war with the Scav’s? Was it trying to find out what his fractured memories were really about?

Again more layers. I think the central tenet comes in the question that Jack himself answers in the final narration – “who am I?” As the real mystery is revealed in the opening of the final act, where Jack and Julia accidentally crash land in the radiation zone, the reality of identity is fully portrayed.

It is possibly a very clichéd concept. I think the success of this movie for me personally was that this question wasn’t very obvious. As the history of the war and Jack’s job repairing drones fades into the background, layers landing on the floor, our central conflict comes from Jack realising who he is, and what he would do to protect this and the ones he loves.

Jack and Julia; he remembers.

I love the sparse world that Kosinski creates, and his aesthetic design choices truly suit the final reveal of the alien lifeform and world that the film is set in. It’s minimalist, bare and bleak. A further reminder of the world after the war, and perhaps representative of who Jack is as we begin the film; a blank slate seeking its true purpose.

Jack’s response to Morgan Freeman’s interrogation when asked why he risked his life for Julia of “anybody would” is a hidden revelation. At the time it seemed fine, a typical response for a caring human to make. In his position I would hope to do the same. As we consider the revelation of Julia and Jake’s past relationship it’s easy to think that the memories he had were the real reason he stood in the droid’s path. However, this again would be too simple. He was convicted to protect ALL of the life pods that were devastatingly destroyed and only because of his drastic actions did he save one (the one).

No, Jack was more than the alien had planned him to be. He really was Jack Harper. Even though the memories fought to break through his spirit of character was even more powerful. He never stopped caring for Vic and even after her semi-betrayal atop Tower 49 he asked her one more time (this time at Tower 52) to join him on the surface of Earth. He wanted to give her a chance but she was so part of Tet’s program that she could only deny him.

I’ve tried to dance around some of the mysteries and reveals here while still giving my reasons for enjoying it. Finally, Kosinski really gets the senses of the audience. He feasts/starves our eyes in varying measures and does the same for our ears. The melodies and rhythms played off my earbuds and through my chest and I couldn’t help but place some thoughts back to Daft Punk’s sterling soundtrack to Kosinski’s previous sci-fi Tron: Legacy.

If you haven’t seen Oblivion and enjoy sci-fi, you should definitely give it a go. And perhaps if you have seen the film then I’m glad to have shared the experience with you, no matter what we each thought of it.

That’s what makes us who we are.

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Weekly Highlights – THINGS GO BOOM!

This week there has been some awesome comics releases, trailer reveals and music announcements! So many things rocking in my world!

 

Let’s start with the movies:

Movie #1: Regarding superheroes I’m typically a Marvel guy, but I do have some fond childhood memories watching some Superman stories on VHS and I also loved the All Star Superman comic DC released a couple of years ago. Mostly I enjoyed Smallville’s take on Clark Kent growing up and realising his destiny.

So this week the “Man of Steel” main trailer was released and I loved it. The gravitas and tone set by the music and narration really sets this up as a step for Superman to enter the current generation of moviegoers that are well-versed in Comic Superheroes on screen. There’s a lot of power and impact that is teased at in the trailer as well. If you haven’t seen it – here’s my friendly link #1.

 

Movie #2: Pacific Rim is a giant monster vs robot film from one of my favorite directors, Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth). The trailer only really hints at a lot of the scale and fun that this film will be – but it totally brings out all my memories with Neon Genesis Evangelion, Godzilla and Transformers. With Del Toro helming this with the freedom to make the movie he wants, this is gonna rock – check it out here link #2.

 

Now my favorite part of the week – this week’s comics! RiD 12

I had a lovely LOOOONG drive down to my local comic shop this week but it was worth it. A bunch of comics to pick up and some real gems. Two Transformers comics in particular – Robots in Disguise #12 and a return of the Spotlight brand focusing on Orion Pax (pre-Optimus Prime). Robots in Disguise is a comic that i’ve been engrossed in all year (still working on that essay…) and it even got to the top of the “Buy Pile” at ComicBookResources. The “Underbase” podcasting team did a great review of it too – link #3.

Also on comics – next week sees Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #12 coming out – which in James Roberts on words “ends with a bang.” Which little robot is gonna get it?!?

And lastly here, MY LITTLE PONY #2 should be out in a week’s time – can’t wait!

 

Last piece of news that i’m LOVING is the teaser for SEVENDUST’s new album “Black out the Sun.”

These guys are my favorite band ever. Their youtube channel has a lot of great behind the scenes videos showing their recording, hanging and antics during the recording process for this new album.

I cannot wait until it is released next March!

 

Cheers all,

Luke

Comics Vs Movies – link

Hi all,

 

between my regular reading of Transformers, TMNT and other great comics, novels and also playing the Marvel Facebook game Avengers Alliance I noticed this article posted recently about the mediums of Comics and Film.

I thought it eloquently put a great deal of the conventions of film and comics alongside each other, with a veneer of nostalgia for a loved form and it’s more flashy, bigger brother.

Ivan Brandon (who has written Avengers, Batman and others) posted this back in July and it holds true for my POV on the limitations of comic-book movies when compared to the open possibilities of comics.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Article

Sci-Fi, Maybe?

I love science fiction, and this term I’ve been lucky enough to be teaching Speculative fiction and also Sci-Fi films to my year 9 class. They’ve really dug it and we’re also gonna have a brief look at comparing Sci Fi in novels and films to gaming. Halo and Mass Effect here we come.

We’re also starting to see a renaissance of excellent Sci Fi in film. District 9 was a stand out and I cannot wait to see Blomkampt’s Elysium (with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster) next year.

Also coming next year is Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, which looks to bring all of DT’s monster mash love with a heavy dose of giant, epic robots. (How could I not love that?!?)

I just read a great post on Ain’t it cool news, and it reminded me that Sci Fi is quite special. Whether people disregard it’s ‘genre-ness’ out of ignorance or dislike, it often does something that other cinema often ignores. There are mysteries and puzzles in Sci Fi that Pirates of the Caribbean just don’t attempt. (Which is fine)

Check out the post here.

Cheers,
Luke

The Amazing Spider-Review

It was a cloudy, grey, windy day, but a beautiful day nonetheless. Having a day alone with my wife, Melissa, is a rare thing and we got to spend it in a few of our favourite ways, including seeing the brand new film “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

I always get excited for new superhero movies. Every student I talk to at my school knows to ask me the geeky questions, and it’s great to be able to geek out a bit. I don’t mind being the comic loving teacher. 😉

But this film perplexed a lot of them, and some of my friends. Older or younger, Spider-man is fresh. His films had set records and been part of the opening wave of blockbuster, entertaining, kinetic superhero films. So why was this new story coming without Raimi and Maguire? Why reboot? (The word ‘reboot’ had been thrown around a lot but I don’t really think many people had considered the inherent negative association they gave it or questioned it, they seemed to go along with the critical view of some journalists and observers online).

I don’t mind getting caught up in a bit of hype. And this year we’ve already had a bunch with the Avengers film a couple of months ago (woah!) and The Dark Knight Rises in a couple of weeks. So I followed this film and it’s production and gradually became interested and also believed that it could succeed. Because I never truly saw the Peter Parker or Spider-man in the Raimi Trilogy that I had always read in the comics.

So, now I have seen The Amazing Spider-man, and I believe it’s an amazing taste of 50 years worth of fantastic Spider-man storytelling.

I don’t want this to be spoiler filled. I want to give a chance for people that are skeptical to think afresh.

What is your idea of Spider-man? Is it the web swinging? Is it New York? Is it the motto? Or was it just the guy in the tights in a few movies?

Because Spider-Man to me has always been about adolescence smashing against power with a lot of guilt thrown in. What should he really do with his power? How can he become a true hero? These are some of the questions that are raised and answered in this film. Who is Peter Parker. Who is Spider-Man.

The cast are wonderful and the directing is deft, careful, flamboyant and at times lets you dwell in his world, as Spider-Man, just for a moment. Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary – names that form a 5-strong team that all connect with Peter, played by the amazing Andrew Garfield.

Peter/Spider-Man has a voice here that pangs of loss, guilt, exuberance, joy, cleverness, love, confusion – and it’s played in a way that lets this all work for the film.

Melissa and I both enjoyed it more than the earlier trilogy, and we don’t mind comparing. We felt the connections of the Parker parents with the origins of Spidey brought depth and meaning that was missing from the original film’s high school excursion accident. Gwen Stacy is a more rounded, powerful, interesting character that MJ was and the different family dynamics create soft, yet tense moments for a young man that has missed out on his parents for most of his life.

Seeing the birth of Spider-Man represented here again is nothing new to any seasoned comic reader. Our heroes get reborn, re-birthed, resurrected all the time. It sometimes seems like an endless cycle.

So if you’re asking “why bother rebooting?” try to move past that question, and try to ask the question once more: “Who is Spider-Man?”

I think you’ll enjoy the answer.