22 questions about “Oblivion”

Saturday night, I took Melissa to see Oblivion. The trailers looked interesting, I had heard good things about it, and read some decent reviews online from non-mainstream movie critics (Filmdrunk gave it a B+, for instance). So when we got a date night, I suggested we go check it out.

Not a good movie. There were a few scenes that were likable, and the drones in the film that Tom Cruise’s character is on Earth to repair are pretty cool (Tom Cruise has a pretty cool helicopter-like vehicle, too). But overall the movie is not good at all. Rather than explain why, I am just going to repeat the list of questions that I asked myself after it was over in my attempt to figure it out. The more questions I asked, the worse the movie became.

In no particular order…

  • if the aliens have the technology to build enormous universe-traversing spaceships, build and deploy hundreds of enormous factories from that ship that are capable of draining energy from out oceans over the course of decades, and deploy hundreds of nigh-bulletproof drones armed with laser cannons to protect them, why in the hell did they need an army of Tom Cruises (TC) and Emily Riseboroughs (ER)?
  • what happened to the other at-least-50 Tom Cruises and at-least-51 Emily Rossboroughs?
  • when Tom Cruise 49 went to Tom Cruise 52’s house, why didn’t Emily Riseborough 52 notice the big-ass “49” on TC49’s uniform?
  • and why did ER52 not at least ask him what had happened that caused his face to get all beat up?
  • why did the aliens put their clone tanks in their mother ship’s hangar bay?
  • why did the aliens give the TCs a vehicle capable of space flight, when visiting the mother ship would absolutely give away their ruse?
  • why does TC’s helicopter vehicle thing have seating for two since his partner is supposed to absolutely refuse to go to the surface under any circumstances, and he isn’t supposed to encounter anyone on the surface?
  • how did Olga Kurylenko (OK) know that the Tet being examined by the Odyssey was the object in Earth orbit, since she was in hibernation when they found it?
  • how did Morgan Freeman discover the Odyssey was in orbit above Earth? The entire movie depends on Odyssey returning to Earth, but given the tech available to MF’s rebels it is difficult to imagine that they had any means to detect it.
  • and, given that the aliens’ mission involves the extermination of humanity, why would they allow a pod full of humans to remain on orbit around the Earth for six decades?
  • if the aliens have zillions of TC clones, why would they give a crap if the drones occasionally kill one/some of them? The drones’ inability to kill TC was the only thing that allowed OK to live, and yet there was absolutely no reason for the drone to choose TC over the human it was sent to kill. OK was an enemy and TC could be replaced in minutes.
  • how did TC and ER live in their home for however long they lived there and not know there was a secret drone in their basement?
  • why were the secret drones in the basement, which seemingly existed only to exterminate drone repair teams when the need raised, so much bigger and more bad-ass than the drones that were out hunting people?
  • when the aliens found the people they knew were the enemy, why did they attack them with only three drones?
  • and why did they never deploy any of the heavy assassin drones to do anything other than kill one lady who had never been out of her house?
  • the TC and ER clones have had awareness for only around five years or so. They have never had any other human contact. They cannot possibly have any concept of religion. So why would the alien central mind try to appeal to fear of a creator by telling TC “I am your God” before TC destroys the ship? How would TC even know what that means?
  • why in the hell, three years later, was TC52 still wearing his Tet uniform and not the same kind of clothes the other human are wearing?
  • how did the drones not find, and destroy, Tom Cruises’s cabin? Why was an area of vegetation not in a “radiation zone” so TC49 could find it to begin with?
  • why do the clones need think they are on Earth? Why couldn’t the clones just think they are part of an occupying force on an alien world and there for a mission? There really is no reason for the aliens to set the ruse up the way they have. It would’ve been far easier to set up a situation where they wouldn’t have to put so much effort into keeping a secret. Even so, any time a clone discovered the truth it could easily be assassinated and replaced anyway. So, really, the entire central plot point exists only so the aliens can fail.
  • how would Morgan Freeman possibly know that the aliens were traveling the universe, destroying planets and then moving on to the next planet? How would he know anything about the aliens at all since his only contact with them has been via TC clones and killer robots?
  • who shot the cable TC49 was using to escape from the library, and why would they do that? The fall could have killed him, and they just as easily could have captured him on the surface.
  • what was TC49 fighting in the library? They weren’t drones; they couldn’t have possibly been people… So what were they?
  • why do the TCs have numbers, anyway? Wouldn’t it be easier to just let the clones think they are alone on the planet, since if the alien plot is to succeed the clones cannot possibly meet anyway? Why even bother with “sure, there are literally dozens of other people down there doing this. But, no, of course you can never meet them.”

I really could go on all night. The more I work on this list the more I think to add to it

The shootout in the library sure was cool though…

So, Saturday was a pretty solid day.

I originally wrote this Saturday night, lost my draft in some weird software mishap, then rewrote it yesterday and forgot to post it. So, two days late, my Saturday was pretty good. Just pretend “today” means “Saturday” when you read this. Or something.

Today was a pretty good day – family things together, time with each kid, the works. Today was a pretty good day.

We started by making our way to the third annual indoor garage sale at Sanford Center; Helen loves going to this thing, and I’m a fan of garage sales, so this event is always fun. It’s like a treasure hunt; and there are enough booths there that it’s hard to imagine not finding at least one thing to come home with. We didn’t get much this year, but what we did get was fun.

• A Series 1 Hex from Skylanders. This kid had a bunch of Skylanders in a basket for a dollar, all Series 1 – Helen had them all, but we bought Hex for a buck because she’s cool.

• A Lego Creator mini-plane kit for 50 cents. We already had this kit, but for 50 cents it couldn’t be passed up simply as an addition to the parts pile. Another table had a BARC Speeder for eight bucks; the girls got this kit for me for Christmas a few years back, so I passed on it. I kinda wish I would have offered them five dollars for it, again just to throw the parts into the collection.

• A KRE-O Sentinel Prime) for three bucks. This was a $40 set when it was available at retail, and we only had to raid one part out of our Legos to finish the robot mode. This was a steal. I suspect the parts we are missing are due to Helen opening the box in the car and not because the set was incomplete; it looked like the kid who owned it originally got about halfway through the first build of the alt-mode firetruck and quit on it. The stickers weren’t even all applied yet.

• Helen found a few Pokemon books and was really excited about those.

• I passed on a vintage MPC/Ertl model kit of the Hoth Rebel Base from The Empire Strikes Back. I had the Battle of Hoth companion set to this when I was a kid and remember it being pretty great. I didn’t want to pay the $25 sticker price for it, and wasn’t really in any sort of mood to negotiate a lower price (mostly because I don’t have any idea what I would’ve thought was acceptable – I’d have bought it without hesitation if it would’ve been priced at $10, but the odds of talking the table-holder down that low seemed slim). They go for about $50 on eBay, so maybe I should’ve just picked it up.

• Millie found, and was completely enamored by, a Hoberman sphere, so we picked that up for a dollar. She spent most of the afternoon starting with the sphere fully extended and saying “big,” then collapsing it a bit and saying “medium,” then fully collapsing it and saying “small” before giggling herself into a lather and repeating the process.

• Mel found a Fendi scarf and some books.

Bemidji High School fundraiser dinner prep
After the garage sale, we went and spent about 90 minutes helping get food ready for Bemidji High School’s fundraiser fish fry that will be held tomorrow night. We were on carrot duty; we probably peeled 12-15 pounds of carrots, and for awhile Mel was on chopping duty. Good stuff. Helen was an awesome helper, and Millie even helped for a bit too – although she ultimately probably stole more carrots than she peeled.

After that, Helen went swimming with a friend and Mel wanted to clean the house, so I took Millie to McDonald’s to play. After that we went to Home Depot and picked up some tool organizers for the Legos in the basement and she wanted to go look at books at Target, so we did that too. In total we were out for maybe two and a half hours.

Later in the evening, Helen and I worked on the Lego Chamber of Secrets from 2002, from the huge pile of Legos my parents found at the garage sale in Kansas a few years back and brought up for us. Making really good progress, but running into missing-part issues; I’m making a list and am hopeful that most of what we are missing can be acquired from Lego’s Pick a Brick site. We’re missing one of the tower walls, and those aren’t on Pick a Brick and are pretty expensive when they show up on eBay. I’ll keep looking…

Finally bought a light for my drawing table

Melissa went to the gym this morning, so I had some kid time out in town. We went to Rafael’s for donuts, which is always fun, and then went to return the lights we bought for the kitchen at Menard’s. They had restocked their swing-arm magnifier lights for craft tables, which I’ve wanted for a long time but have never pulled the trigger on; empowered with birthday cash from my parents (thanks, parents!) I finally picked one up. It’s not perfect — but for $40 I wasn’t really expecting perfect — but it should provide a significantly better lighting situation at the drawing table in my office. Better to the point that I might actually use the drawing table.

I like the track lights I installed in here quite a bit, but they’re seriously useless for providing lighting to work, and the six-dollar desk lamp I bought from Target to provide a close-up way to fill in the shadows I was getting from the overhead lights was barely functional.

I want to try this setup out this weekend sometime; I’m so, so, so far behind on my postcard project, and it would be really fun in May between the end of the semester and the start of summer school / getting Megan up here to get caught up on that and churn a bunch of these out for my friends. They’ve been waiting long enough…

What I’m Listening To
I started a Daft Punk station on Pandora this morning on my phone, and I’m not gonna lie it’s pretty great. I’ve never listened to much electronic music at all (really, my only experience with it has been Daft Punk’s work on the TRON: Legacy soundtrack and the tremendously great Deadmau5 concert on Netflix), but it’s proving to be excellent background music while I’m trying to get some stuff done in my office today.

What I’m Shopping For
Just for fun, I have been pricing out a wide variety of laptops at Apple’s online store — five different laptops ranging from a 13-inch Air to a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, ranging in price from $1,400 to $2,280. I’d really like to have an Air just for the insane portability (but I wonder if most of what I could do with an Air I could also do with an iPad and a quality keyboard case), but the 13-inch MacBook Pro is pretty compelling at only $1,400. I would totally love to have a tricked-out 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, though — 16 gigs of RAM, etc. Big difference between the compelling 13-inch Pro and the $2,280 I’d drop on the 15-inch Retina Pro I specced out… Ah, well. It’s only window shopping at this point!