Hear me now and believe me later in the week: OBLIVION is an interesting and beautiful movie that could have been classic.
Why did it flop?
Let’s look at the prime suspects:
5) Tom Cruise fatigue
This is an easy target. Cruise has gone from “Biggest Movie Star on the Planet” to “Incredibly Excited Actor Jumping on Oprah’s Couch” to “Scientologist Who Gets Divorced a Lot.”
As a huge fan of Lee Child’s Reacher novels, I have to say that Reacher is something like 6’5, 250, blond and quietly sarcastic, while Cruise is short, light, dark-haired and loudly cocky.
HOWEVER: I will give the man his due, because Cruise did a fine job of acting in this movie. The average sci-fi apocalypse movie would have a hot new 20-something actor mumble his way through the thing looking stoned while trying to seem macho. Cruise was an upgrade from the typical New Action Hunk.
You could’ve put Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling or George Clooney in this sucker and it wouldn’t solve the problem. Cruise gets a pass.
That’s the acid test for every writer: four words.
If somebody in line with you for the Largest Latte Known to Man asks what you’re working on, can you explain it in four words?
How about eight words?
Because if you can’t, you’re not really done.
And I don’t care that you’ve spent the last seven years locked away in a French monastery, slaving away 25 hours a day, eight days a week to perfect (a) The Great American Novel, Even Though It Was Written in France, (b) the movie script that will turn Hollywood on its ear and stop it from spending $250 million apiece on Michael Bay explosion-fests involving robots that transform into cars or whatever or (c) a punk-rock masterpiece with song after song with lyrics so beautiful, and rebelliously ugly, that anyone who listens to it quits working for The Man and buys an electric Fender so they can learn the only three chords you need to know to become AN INSANE ROCK GOD.
So let’s get down to it. If you haven’t already, read these posts to get all educated and such, even though it is technically cheating — because today, there is a quiz.
Well, this is different. It’s not achingly good or insanely low-budget and terrible.
The music is oddly OK, and the production values are high.
But it’s just so flipping weird.
Let’s take inventory: We’ve got (1) a skinny ex-convict or whatever who thinks he’s some kind of ninja, though (2) his albino woman keeps singing “samurai” all the time and (3) I have no idea whether this third person, the short man wearing a hoodie, is supposed to be a ninja, a samurai, a teenage mutant ninja turtle or some kind of Yoda-like wizard.
Let’s clear up the ninja vs. samurai thing real quick. Samurai = soldiers with big katanas and armor. Ninja = what every Internet Tough Guy wants to be. Pick one, not both. They are incompatible.
Also, ninjas will NOT allow Tom Cruise into their secret club, not after the whole “jumping on Oprah‘s couch and being a nutzo” thing.
Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.
If you were breathing during the ’80s, you will remember these songs and videos.
If you weren’t yet alive and walking around, you may recognize some tunes from this thing they used to call the radio, which plays random songs and ads you don’t control, no matter how many buttons you push, though you could use these things called telephones to call the DJ to request a song, win prizes or try to get on live air to say something horrible, clever or horribly clever.
The clip from Top Gun still cracks me up. How did we ever think that movie, or Tom Cruise, was cool?