Oblivion

oblivion-tom-cruiseThe plot is very much identical to Moon. So nothing new there. The graphics and technology design was pretty impressive and innovative. The drones looked both good and evil at the same time. The landscape was not as apocalyptic compared to other movies, and it doesn’t show the city being destroyed, like The Day After Tomorrow. It was more sad and forlorn. Tired and weighty. Most of the structures were covered under sand and soil of some sort. And it doesn’t feel creepy like zombie movies. A little detail, the boundaries set up for radiation zones that keeps Jack inside his area, reminded me of a similar concept in the movie¬†Gamer.¬†[spoilers coming up]

What is interesting is that half way through the movie, it forces you the completely change your view. At first you think the drones and the repair team are working for the humans. Then you learn that they are working for the alien force. In terms of meta-narrative, what I found most striking is that it combines a Christ figure who sacrifices himself for the sake of humanity, but at the same time puts it right next to a pseudo-reincarnation theme moderated through clones and a hint of new age spirituality, with a spark of humanity in all of us. And this all comes together at the last minute of the move. Let me explain.

The “Tet” cloned Jack and Victoria. And the surviving humans saw a trace of humanity left in clone 49. So they thought that he must be the commander. Somehow the aliens let the real one back. So the band of humans do a test by calling back the Odyssey crew to see how 49 will respond. And they decide that he is the commander. All the memories come back and he is willing to die to save everyone. Yet at the end, clone 52 comes and finds the wife, and says, “I am him.” That line is the twist. Something tells me that the original Jack is dead and that both 49 and 52 were clones. But I think what the message is that even in the clones that the aliens machine created there was a trace of humanity remaining in them. Such that when the right circumstances arise, that humanity hidden inside would surface and would show the goodness that is inside. So I think that is the only way that 52 is able to lead the rest of the surviving humans, and also say at the end that “I am him.” There is a parallel between humanity’s will to survive and the persistence of the human “soul” despite the cloning of the machines.

I wonder how much this is a sign of our time, the mixing of meta-narratives as many different ideas interact with each other.

Some things I didn’t like about the movie.

  • The alien is pretty lame. It’s just a machine. So again there is the trope of an extraterrestrial life form that’s not biotic. So there’s obviously the question, “Is robotic intelligence possible?” It also sets up the question, “Who created it?” This is not the same question as “Why is there life on earth?” It’s begs the question of “Who created it?” differently especially because our only experience of robots is created ones. We don’t have robots independently creating other robots, let alone learning how to clone. So I have to say that the “Tet” was pretty lame.
  • A loop hole is the question of where are all the other Jacks and Victorias? If there were thousands of them, where are they? Were they such perfect clones that they never left their stations? I suppose that could have been how they didn’t show up. And if the “Tet” went down, then their stations shut down and they died? And how did 52 survive?
  • I also didn’t like the creepy similarity between some of the dialogue between Jack and Julia and Inception. It was a sickening sweet condensed love story. And there is the dying together part. And growing old together part. It paints this ideal for marriage. And it also elevates marriage above other types of relationships. Not sure how to feel about that when divorce rates are so high in America.

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