Full of great performances, and, sometimes, is amazingly compelling.
-Willie Waffle, WaffleMovies.com
an R-rated, steroid-fueled Looney Tunes cartoon
-Pete Hammond, 7M Pictures
This is the first movie directed by Michael Bay to not feature giant killer robots since 2005’s The Island. In fact, Pain & Gain is so different from Bay’s recent work that it has a total of just one explosion. Even though it still suffers from the disease of Cool Guys Don’t Look At Explosions, it’s probably a new personal record for him.
If we are to believe the tagline, Pain & Gain isn’t just based on a true story, it IS a true story. That’s most likely a huge exaggeration but the movie is a lot of fun regardless. Castoonishly violent and mean-spirited, none of the brutality is taken too seriously here. It’s essentially a really slick and dark comedy about bad people doing bad things to other bad people in Miami.
Easily the smallest-scale film of Bay’s career, Pain & Gain doesn’t lack his typical sleazy style and expensive film-making technique. Still enamored with slow motion, Bay uses it to great comedic effect here, often hovering uncomfortably long on gnarled facial expressions or random scenes of brutal violence. Another one of Bay’s signature moves is to let the camera linger on pretty things like the excesses of luxury or beautifully toned bodies. As one can imagine, he has an absolute field day with a movie about body builders set on Miami Beach.
Nothing too consequential, Pain & Gain offers quite a few laughs and some decent action sequences. Michael Bay has a great eye for these types of films and it’s good to see him temporarily move on from the Transformers franchise. With a runtime of 2 hours and 10 minutes, it is on the long side and eventually becomes tiresome but if action movies are your thing, it’s worth a watch.
Not all of Oblivion’s big ideas stick – in fact some of them threaten to send the film spiralling into its namesake – but at its best, the film achieves something that is highly elusive in modern film: it is completely and utterly engrossing.
-Adam Ross, The Aristocrat
Extraordinary, if a little hard to follow at times. A jaw-dropping, exciting and the most visually stunning and innovative science-fiction thriller to hit the screen since ‘Blade Runner’ . Cruise delivers one of the best performances of his career.
-Pete Hammond, Movieline
This spring movie season has been brutal. There have been a few hidden gems among the mess, but very few and far between. Side Effects and Spring Breakers come to mine as some of the standouts, but it’s tough to be satisfied with 2 quality films in a 4 month stretch. So, it’s quite a relief to be nearing summer movie season once again. This summer looks to have some exciting films in store. If not as hyped as last years disappointing Summer of the Superhero Sequel, they will at least be interesting to talk about. Which brings us to Oblivion, The first notable release of summer 2013.
This is Joseph Kasinski’s 2nd turn as director after Tron: Legacy a few years ago. Although a lot of people were disappointed in that film, I was very impressed with it’s style and visual flair. Fortunately, Kosinski does the same great work with Oblivion. It is absolutely gorgeous.
Oblivion follows some pretty conventional and familiar sci-fi tropes; but it doesn’t hinder the film as much as you would think. Of course, you have a steady dose of grungy future environments, outcasts dressed in steam-punk garb and other tired elements of this recent wave of sci-fi.
But don’t worry, it’s not just another sci-fi retread set in a post-apocalyptic Earth. One would think that a film set on an empty planet would be a chore to watch, but Oblivion actually makes incredible use of it’s surroundings. So many beautiful sprawling shots of the scorched landscape, crumbling rock formations, ruined landmarks, etc. But what elevates this movie above more recent offerings in the genre is the completely original story that makes up the backbone of all the beautiful imagery. After a full summer of sequels, prequels and superhero blockbusters last year, Oblivion is a really refreshing summer action film.
An interesting thing about this film – despite it’s originality, it completely respects all great sci-fi that has come before it. It borrows here and there from one film or another and an important sequence at the end appears to be a tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The presence of everyman Tom Cruise may irk some, but you have to admit he does a great job in this type of role. He’s played this character before but he’s good at it. He brings a gravitas and sense of respect to the role that a lesser actor wouldn’t have been able to accomplish.
Oblivion is a ton of fun and a great way to start out this summer movie season. It’s probably not a masterpiece, but you could do a lot worse than spending a few hours at the theater with spaceman Tom Cruise and steam-punk Morgan Freeman. The only major negative: the lack of a soothing voiceover from the angelic Mr. Freeman.