Just watched Oblivion (2013), starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Jamie Lannister. It was a collection of tropes strung together.
Sweeping, desolate landscapes intercalated with sleek metallic machines. Lots of smoke and vapour. Use of spartan colour palette. Another example: Arrival.
Music like it’s by Vangelis but dressed up for the 21st century, raw, poverty of tones. Another example: Blade Runner 2049.
A fascist dystopia at work, post-Earth, protagonist a member of a hierarchical organisation, made to repeat catchphrase as symbol of compliance. Another example: 1984.
Pre-war souvenirs stowed away in secret lockers together with personal memorabilia. Memories are taboo. Another example: Equilibrium.
Why do people go to war with classic rock tracks playing? Why does no one remember electronic music? Another example: Star Trek: Beyond.
Unexpected interlopers disrupt a life thought peaceful and perfect, introduce chaos, restore memories and demand you switch sides. Another example: Captain Marvel.
Why you? Because you’re curious, you ask questions. You’re The One chosen to lead the people to victory. Another example: I, Robot.
The world is dangerous, you’re told. Repeatedly. But you walk past all warning signs and enter the radiation zone. It isn’t deadly at all. Another example: Portal 2.
Retaliation begins, often at the rebel stronghold and spreading outwards. There are painful skirmishes. Another example: Man of Steel.
But the rebels are secretly working on a Trojan horse, a powerful weapon that can be used only once. Another example: Armageddon.
The sleight of hand works and enemy stronghold is blown to bits from within, but a hero + inspiring-speech-guy perish. Another example: Prometheus.
The thing is, Oblivion was entertaining to watch because it didn’t pretend it was trying to escape any of these tropes, instead diving headlong into them.
It didn’t even avoid the ultra-Freudian finale; this isn’t to say I enjoyed the implied violence, only that Oblivion was happy to be unoriginal except in style. To quote from the review on RogerEbert.com:
If nothing else, “Oblivion” will go down in film history as the movie where Tom Cruise pilots a white, sperm-shaped craft into a giant space uterus. The scene is more interesting to describe than it is to watch. Cruise’s sperm-ship enters through an airlock that resembles a geometrized vulva. He arrives inside a massive chamber lined with egg-like glass bubbles. At the center of the chamber is a pulsating, sentient triangle that is also supposed to be some kind of mother figure. Cruise must destroy the mother triangle and her space uterus in order to save the Earth.