Friday, 1 August 2014

COMPETING FILM SHOWDOWN - Oblivion vs After Earth

Looking at film and television. Sometimes two very similar films come out close together, let's see which one is better...

Abandoned Earth Showdown

Oblivion (April) & After Earth (June) 2013... which is better?

Wil Smith was inspired by an episode of I Shouldn't Be Alive but moved the story into a future setting becoming After Earth.  Oblivion was an idea which was delayed by the 2007-2008 writer's strike and then advertised as an upcoming comic to showcase the concept art and allow work to continue.  Coincidence.

Round 1
"Everybody dies, Sally.  The thing is to die well." ~ Jack (Oblivion).

After Earth is a pretty generic title (the AE in Titan AE is also After Earth).  And only the flashbacks at the beginning are after Earth, the rest is mostly on Earth.

Oblivion is a completely generic title, with about 7 other feature and short films sharing the title.


Round 2
"I can't shake the feeling, that earth, inspite of all that's happened, earth is still my home." ~ Jack (Oblivion).

Two people are the last people on an Earth inhabited by aliens out to kill humans, one travelling the other, the other in constant contact.

After Earth:  A "Ranger" and his son crash on an abandoned Earth.  The son heads out to find a distress beacon while his injured father monitors from their crashed craft.  It's just a simple wilderness survival story in a sci-fi setting with an annoying father/son & coming of age story grafted on.

Oblivion:  A couple is assigned to oversee the mining of resources on an abandoned Earth.  Heads out to locate and repair security pods while the female monitors from their base.  A sci-fi thriller full of pretty obvious twists.


Round 3
"I've heard stories of Earth. A paradise. Until we destroyed it." ~ Kitai (After Earth)

After Earth:  The Earth, abandoned due to environmental damage has re-vegetated and life has evolved much like an episode of The Future is Wild.  It actually looks quite nice if it wasn't for the cold snaps and everything wasn't trying to kill you.

Oblivion:  The Earth has been ravaged by war and drained of resources.  It is most desert and ruins.  The landscape feels hostile, the sheer number of obvious surviving landmarks makes it a little laughable, but adds to the beauty and grandeur.


Round 4
"I wonder, if I come to you, at night - in dreams, in the day - as memories. Do I haunt your hours the way you haunted mine?" ~ Jack (Oblivion).

After Earth:  Spends most of the first 20 mins getting back to the first moments of the film, over 40 to get to the moments following it.  Because it is at the beginning of the film, it covers new material.  It also flashes back a number of times during the film.

This Is The End:  Long annoying, but pretty flashback near the end of the film which pretty much reiterates the big twist that's already been revealed and makes a film that was already dragging a lot even longer.


Round 5
"I want to work with mom." ~ Kitia.
"Me too." ~ Cypher (After Earth)

After Earth - Will Smith isn't a wise-cracking hero, he's the stoic support character to his son as the teen angst hero.

Oblivion - Tom Cruise a charming maverick who likes to pointless jump things on a motorbike, looks good with his shirt off and slides around and leaps away from explosions and falls much further than he should be able to survive unhurt.  Everything you expect from a Tom Cruise film.  And as the film points out.  Tom Cruise's characters are pretty interchangeable.


Round 6
"The third and least likely is that it is out. We will proceed, however, in anticipation of the worst-case scenario.." Cypher (Oblivion)

After Earth:  The two survivors of the crash are father and son.  An old Earth actual book copy of Moby Dick features but isn't a coincidence.

Oblivion:  The sole survivor of the crash is the girl Jack has been dreaming of.  Jack finds a book and the exact page he reads becomes important.

Both hinge on an unbelievable coincidence, Oblivion's is somehow more annoying.


Round 7
"Only two more weeks, Jack, and we can finally leave and join the others. Please, don't take any chances..." ~ Victoria (Oblivion).

After Earth:  There's no twist here, which is often commented on as director M. Night Shyamalan rose to fame making films with twist endings and although he doesn't anymore people won't let it go.  The film is really pretty obvious from start to finish, but that's the type of film it is.  Doesn't try to be smarter than it is (although probably tries to be deeper than it is.)

Oblivion:  There's a major twist and a couple of minor twists.  None of them are as shocking as they hope to be and most are pretty obvious.  The films thinks it is smarter than it turns out to be.

Just because obvious twists are more annoying than no twists...


Round 8
"Earth, before the war. New York, before I was born. A place I've only seen pictures of." ~ Jack (Oblivion).

After Earth:  Mostly on almost convincing future animals and monsters.

Oblivion:  Cool pods and stuff, beautiful but unbelievably but convincing ruins and terrain.


Round 9
"The questions I wonder about, she doesn't.  The things I wonder about, she won't." ~ Jack (Oblivion).

BECHDEL TEST:  Two named females talk to each other about something other than a male.
After Earth:  There are 2 named females the wife/mother Faia and daughter/sister Senshe.  They are seen together in the father's flashbacks, but speak to him, not to them.  Almost justifiable in that almost no characters except the father and son talk to each other, although at least seeing the Rangers are more gender mixed would have been nice.  Still a Fail.
Oblivion:  Even with only a few characters named females get to talk.  We'll discount Sally who talks a lot to Victoria about the mission, Victoria and Julia have a few conversations about things other than Jack.  Pass.

RACIAL BECHDEL:  Two named people of colour talk to each other about something other than a white man.
After Earth:  The father and son are people of colour, so it easily passes.  Pass.
Oblivion:  There's really just Morgan Freeman's character.  Fail.

THE MAKO MORI TEST:  At least one main character who gets her own narrative arc and is not about supporting a man's story.
After Earth:  Senshe's story is only told in flashback from the POV of her father or her brother (or as a dream).  Her story is there as the tension in the relationship between the men.  Fail.
Oblivion:  Victoria and Julia are both in the story to support Jack's arc and have no real arc of their own.  Fail.

Round 10
"Get them flying by sundown and I'll buy you two a round of drinks when you get up to the TET" ~ Sally (Oblivion)

Worldwide Gross (Box Office Mojo):

Budget (Box Office Mojo):
  • After Earth:  $130 million. (made 188%).
  • Oblivion:  $120 million (made 238%)


Round 11 
"That sucked." ~ Kitia.
"That is correct." ~ Cypher (After Earth)

IMDb user rating:
Rotten Tomatoes - Tomatometer
Rotten Tomatoes - Audience (Liked It)

Metacritic (critics)

Metacritic (users)

Round 12
"Our job is not to remember, remember." ~ Victoria (Oblivion)

Online Reviews


Round 13
"Are you and Jack an effective team?"  Sally (Oblivion)

Even if you haven't seen both films, do the reader's poll.
"I'll show you something." ~ Victoria (Oblivion)

AFTER EARTH:  4.5 (4 wins, 1 tie)

OBLIVION:  7.5 (7 wins, 1 tie)

Oblivion is a pointless flashy blockbuster film which is OK if that's what you want, however it is over long.  After Earth is a kid's or a young adult film trying to be a pointless flashy blockbuster film.
~ DUG.
Do the current poll for the next Showdown.

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