GEEK OUT! OBLIVION [REVIEW]

Truth be told, I was excited when I saw the first trailer for sci-fi Tom Cruise action movie vehicle Oblivion. It looked intriguing. Of course, a trailer really does not tell you anything about the movie itself. I was also excited by the fact that Oblivion was an original premise (based on a story co-authored by director Joe Kosinski) and perhaps was hoping that it would be as good as District 9, Moon or Inception.

It isn’t.

Ultimately, Oblivion is a huge disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is a visual treat throughout. For most of the first thirty minutes or so, Oblivion comes across like Wall-E meets I Am Legend (the Will Smith remake), updated with cool gadgets, weaponized drones, sexy encounters between Jack Harper (Cruise) and his colleague Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and menacing ones with alien beings called ‘scavengers’. The setting is a dystopian future (2077) where the earth is dying after a war with aliens (which humans won, it seems) and humans are about the leave the planet and start a new life on Titan.

However, things are not as they seem (when are they ever?) – Harper has memories of another woman (strange, as his former memories have been removed), he meets this woman when her ship crash lands on earth and Harper is captured by the ‘scavengers’ and discovers the truth.

From then on to the hackneyed resolution, the movie degenerates into a sequence of cliches, with planet-sized plot holes and pedestrian acting – Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones‘ Jamie Lannister) and even poor old Morgan Freeman – and by the time the ending comes, the promise of ‘original’ sci-fi movie genre is utterly lost. Apparently, director Kosinski himself stated that Oblivion pays homage to science fiction films of the 1970s. Seriously? Well, perhaps superficially but whilst Oblivions certainly borrows heavily from the dystopian worldview of movies like Omega Man, Soylent Green, Zardoz, Logan’s Run, Silent Running and the Planet of the Apes series, it has none of the imagination, gravitas or even consistent writing that was a hallmark of the decade.

Oblivion is now showing in the cinemas.

 

GHOST CHILD [REVIEW]

Ghost Child is a made in Singapore horror film, inspired by the “Toyol” or “Kwee Kia” of South-East Asian mythology. At its Facebook page, the plot is described thus –

Struggling to accept the death of her mother, Kim suddenly has to deal with a new mother in her life. Her dad, Choon, brings home a woman one day and announces his decision to marry her. A series of mysterious incidents start to occur soon after.

Once again, director Gilbert Chan takes on a horror film with local flavour and like 23:59 before, largely succeeds in connecting with its target audience (i.e. teenagers). The film manages to be effective in terms of delivering scares (without almost any gore whatsoever) due to dynamic editing and an excellent sound design. In addition, the lead actors (Chen Han Wei 陈汉玮, Jayley Woo Jiaqi 胡佳琪, Carmen Soo 苏慧敏) have done enough to establish sympathy so that their horror is shared with the audience.

Story-wise, much is unexplained – which is either puzzling or mysterious, depending on your perspective – but at least there are no lulls in the narrative whatsoever as any excess is trimmed to a minimum to keep the action moving. On that score, the film succeeds.

Check out the trailer below.

Ghost Child opens in cinemas on March 7th.

GEEK OUT! JACK THE GIANT SLAYER [TRAILER]

Originally entitled Jack the Giant Killer, this latest Hollywood foray into the classic fairy tale update (Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel) looks like it might actually be worth the trouble. Directed by Bryan Singer – whose last two movies Superman Returns and Valkyrie were decidedly less than stellar – the movie tells the familiar story of a young farmhand (Jack) who must rescue a princess from a race of giants after inadvertently opening a gateway to their world.

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