What I Liked:
- The strength of good Sci-Fi is that it tells a poignant human story within the parameters of the world it creates. I went in thinking this was an alien invasion Sci-Fi epic with brilliant visuals, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it wasn’t that simple. There is a strong story of struggle, survival, perseverance and love at the core of all the science fiction around it. It was handled delicately and kept the film grounded instead of getting lost behind the science fiction clutter. . More importantly, I thought the twists and mystery made the film stronger and kept my jaw hitting the floor. It all connected in the end in a cohesive way and made it a heck of a lot more enjoyable.
- The special effects are other worldly. I would hazard to say that they look even better than Avatar. This is because the entire film looks painstakingly realistic. The effects do a stellar job of investing you in the world through the visuals. It’s a beautiful desolation and a very original take on a post apocalyptic world. The environments are also dazzling as you’re taken from coastlines and mountain ranges to frozen wastelands and deserts. I felt the bubbleship fight sequence was directed very well and stood out. Sometimes in effects laden film the action gets very muddy and incoherent. That’s not the case here, and it’s actually a treat to experience it in IMAX.
- Tom Cruise is fantastic as always. He looks great, acts great and at 50 is still pulling off all of his own stunts. The characters of Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko are also well done. You can sense the quiet emotions underlying their actions and they both do an admirable job. Olga does a great job of conveying the confusion of being brought into a world that has changed since she last closed her eyes. Furthermore, you understand the struggle and pain of a man whose memories of Earth and all that he loves remain “undimmed by time and unbound by death”.
- The music by M83 complements every scene and action in the movie. I’m glad that it didn’t turn out to be another Hans Zimmer-esque score where everything is bombastic. M83 created a stirring kaleidoscope that can stand on its own. Each piece is evocative and drenches each scene with a complexity and emotion that is hard to convey through the camera. I imagine the film would have suffered were it not for the score adding another layer of mellifluous beauty to the dramatics.
What I Didn’t Like
- Morgan Freeman was wasted. He was clearly collecting a paycheck.
- Dialogue wasn’t particularly great. It wasn’t atrocious and I didn’t expect it to tackle existential quandaries, but you can do better than “You look like shit”. Also, the final line that Tom Cruise delivers to the villain was just cringe worthy and really killed the immersion for me. At least people don’t say or do things completely outside the bounds of their character. I just felt that it could have been brushed up in certain places to really make an impact.
- As good as the story, script and acting are I never felt invested in the characters. This might be because the film tackles too any Sci-Fi concepts and is trying to express them all in a cogent manner. If you’re a fan of movies or Sci-Fi, then you will recognize many iconic shots resembling those from other films (e.g. entering the mother ship looked exactly like Independence Day). This isn’t really a bad thing because the film tackles them all admirably and rises above them. In particular, I appreciated the film making the aliens truly alien. Still, I felt that cutting down on a couple of them might have helped the character development to make this a truly iconic and original film.
Final Verdict 4/5