Saturday, April 27, 2013


Oblivion is the new Tom Cruise movie in which his character's name is Jack and in which he gets it on with not one, but two supermodel types, because he is not gay.  Also notable about the movie is his dick-and-balls shaped flying machine.

Tom plays a sort of mechanic in an apocalyptic future earth where aliens or some shit have destroyed civilization.  Humans won out in the end though, but have to live off-planet in a giant space pyramid.  This is because Earth is uninhabitable, even though Tom and his hot babes can live there without getting radiation sickness or sprouting extra heads.  He works on these big, flying, heavily-armed orbs that swoop around some giant water-sucking machines in the ocean, protecting the machines from enemies of some sort.

Tom and his hot babe partner, we are innocently informed by a voice over, undergo "mandatory memory wipes" every 6 years, so he is puzzled when a ship carrying sleeping humans crashes and the big orbs show up and start blasting them.  He manages to save one of the humans, a supermodel who, naturally, turns out to be a geologist.  This is hot babe number two, to whom Tom occasionally screams, "WHO ARE YOU?"  They get chased by some mean looking beings in black masks who are actually humans in disguise, led by Morgan Freeman.  This shit is mostly shown in the commercials, so I'm not giving much away, in case you're getting pissed off about spoilers.

Anyway, a bunch of special effects happen, then there's a big space explosion.  The movie's denouement, once considered, would lead to a very strange polygamous relationship.  I'd tell you why, but that would be spoiling.  I'll just say, I would rather have seen that movie than Oblivion.

See, Oblivion has a lot of style and little substance.  Its story is bullshit sci fi that could have been written by a kid in middle school.  I dug some of the computer effects, of course, and there were a handful of nice, quiet "cinematic" moments, but it's lightweight stuff pretending to be heavy.  This ain't 2001, or even 2010.  Well, maybe 2010.

Ah, no it isn't.

Numerically smaller, we have 42.  This is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black guy to play in major league baseball.  Jackie gets hired by a huffing and puffing elderly Harrison Ford, who is finally playing characters his own age after years onscreen romancing women 30 years younger.  Harrison's character is the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He realizes there's a lot of money to be made from black people, who are either too intimidated to come to games by all the white assholes, or who just don't give a shit because there are no blacks playing.  I'm not sure why they weren't coming.  Anyway, he chooses Jackie for this experiment which leads to the inevitable threats of violence, racial epithet hurling by team members, opposing team members, coaches, trainers, cops, and both adult and child baseball fans.

Robinson is played by an actor named Chadwick Boseman.  Chadwick, for god's sake.  He's cool headed, good lookin' and smoldering, and has a devoted wife, with whom there are many, many scenes with exchanges that might read something like this in the screenplay:

       Jackie:  I love you.
       Wife:  Baby I believe in you.
       Jackie:  I couldn't do it without you baby.
       (they fuck)

Chadwick is charismatic enough, but I think it's a pretty muted performance.  It has little humor.  He's "resolved," persevering through outrage, humiliation and physical abuse, but the only other part of him we see is in the interminable scenes with the wife.  He's a devoted husband, we get it, but there is more to a person than that.  If you're making a biopic, show us a human being.

This is an extremely limited take on both a historical figure and the larger issue of racism and the introduction of blacks into baseball.  SPOILER  The movie focuses solely on Jackie's first year in the pros.  You see a bunch of drama, he hits a home run and runs in slo-mo around the bases while triumphant music plays, and that's it.  It's a wasted opportunity.  A more interesting flick would have shown his first season, with the persecution and suffering, then followed the rest of his career while showing how bringing in more black players affected the game and also the culture as a whole.  This movie doesn't even tell you if Jackie is alive or dead now.  It wants us to admire its hero because...he's a HERO god damn it!

Another thing that bugged me about this flick is its lack of serious profanity.  There is a panoply of racial slurs, naturally, but nary another cuss word.  When you have heavy duty stuff going on, especially dealing with SPORTS figures, there should be a symphony of foul language because that's how they will talk.  Yes, I understand it's because the kids have to be able to see it.

Too bad Oliver Stone wasn't hired to make this movie.  It could have been a scorcher.

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