The year is 2077 and Earth lies in ruins. Sixty years ago the planet was attacked by the Scavengers (also called Scavs), an alien race which destroyed Earth’s moon. As a result of this destruction the planet was racked by massive earthquakes and a series of other disasters, and then the Scavengers invaded. The humans won the ensuing war but the nuclear weapons they employed devastated what was left of the Earth. Now humanity has made an exodus to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. All that is left of humanity on Earth are a series of power plants and the Tet- a station built to manage the exodus to Titan. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a technician. He and his communications officer Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) live high above the Earth repairing drones which protect the power plants from the remnants of the Scav army. Jack is haunted by a life he shouldn’t remember, since his memory was wiped before he began repairing drones in order to protect the safety of the mission. Still, he and Victoria’s tour of duty is almost complete. Then, when the remnants of the Scav army send a message off planet, Jack is thrown into a desperate struggle for survival.
This is a stark film, constructed of harsh sweeping vistas of the devastated Earth and the clean lines and muted tones of Jack and Victoria’s living space. Many of the scenes of the film are told with only three characters- Jack, Victoria, and Sally (Melissa Leo), their liaison with the Tet. This tight focus allows acting and character to really shine and these three core actors deliver wonderful performances. There are of course other characters in the film (including appearances by Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko) and their performances, if not as top notch as the core three, are still quite good.
This film exists in the vein of classic sci-fi. The plot twists in (relatively) unexpected ways and the film explores some interesting questions. The main question posed by the film is that of self-hood. Who is Jack? He has a self, a life, and a home as a drone technician, but within him are the memories of another life. Can he ever know who he actually is, and should he want to? Also explored (although more briefly) are the nature of history, and the nature of god.
I am not a Tom Cruise fan personally and therefore I was ready to dislike this movie because of him. Instead I enjoyed it immensely. Cruise’s style of acting is perfectly suited to the character of Jack Harper and the best parts of the film are the raw character scenes between him and Victoria. Ultimately this is a great film and I would recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi. Even if you don’t normally like Tom Cruise, you’ll like this movie.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a high quality piece of campy action. The movie never tries to take itself too seriously and still manages to have quality action and some touching moments.
Jeromy Renner and Gemma Arterton play a grown up Hansel and Gretel who have developed a reputation as witch hunters. As children they were left in the woods to die by their parents, and almost eaten by a witch who imprisoned them in her gingerbread house. After being force fed candy for a while, the children got fed up and killed the witch in the very oven in which she planned to cook them. Hansel has since then developed what is ostensibly diabetes from the candy he was made to eat and has to take injections from an oversized syringe. The siblings gain a penchant for slaying witches and have been on a (pun-intended) witch hunt ever since. The siblings are called to investigate the disappearances of eleven children in a village and are sucked into a large adventure.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the use of ridiculously out of place/advanced weapons and devices al la “Van Helsing”. I’m pretty sure at one point someone is using an oversized pirate cannon looking minigun. Another aspect I like is the character development. Both Hansel and Gretel are equally badass and have a great rapport with each other. The dialogue in this movie is at times over the top and funny, sometimes it’s short and amusingly to the point; a stand-out line is when Gretel says, “The Curse of Hunger for Crawling Things. I fucking hate that one.” Trolls, good witches, bad witches, and evil townsfolk round this movie out and make it one of my ridiculous top all-time 50 movies.
I heartily recommend this movie- what could go wrong with lots of attractive people, witty dialogue, and completely over the top action? Be warned: it's silly, but it's not kid-appropriate silly!
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