Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Filmwatch - Oblivion


We actually watched this one on Friday so it's taken a little while for me to think of stuff to put in the post. I was thinking about posting it yesterday but I held off due to what was happening in Boston. Hope they catch the culprit.

There's two things to review actually, the film and how we watched it. A criticism I have of the Vue iPhone app is that it doesn't break down film times by the screening type. So when we picked the 5.10pm showing, it happened to be a Vue Xtreme showing. What's that I hear you ask ? It's claiming to be better definition and better sound. More on that later.

How was the film ?

Love him or hate him and I know a tonne of people hate him for his off screen antics, Tom Cruise does get picked for a lot of very good movies. If you've not seen Knight and Day yet, you've missed out on a good one. This one is pretty decent too.

And that's coming from a engineer scifi geek. There has to be a lot of boxes ticked for it to get the approval of the engineer geek. Things have to look right. Designs have to look as if they serve a purpose and can perform their function. A centrepiece of this movie is the podcopter they fly around in. It's quite insect like in design, with thin stalks connecting a glass cockpit, 2 engine pods and a stabiliser at the back. The design just feels right. The engine pods are in the right place and they didn't clobber us over the head too much with how the design of things like the cockpit and the guns just worked.

Yep. Happy scifi engineer geek. The drones were suitably menacing too.

I'm staying quiet about the potential of growing food out of sight of the sky, undetected for 70 years. And I did turn around to CK about 2 minutes in as the scenario was being set up and say "Bullshit". Yep. Some of the backstory was contrived but overall, it made sense and didn't get in the way.

Yep. In a certain other movie I was foaming at the mouth at a starship being built on the ground. Grr. Good movie, big plot holes. The plot holes are more cunningly disguised this time.

I liked Oblivion. It kept the action going, the interest was maintained, it wasn't too unsubtle with telling its story. That's where a lot of modern storytelling falls down, it assumes idiocy on the part of the viewer/reader and dumbs it down way too much.

I won't say too much more because there's great potential for spoilers. It'll be a good one to watch the second time around to see how much is subtly set up for later.

That's enough about the movie, how about the cinema ?

Vue Xtreme is sold on better clarity of picture and better sound. However, instead of getting in on a £4.50 voucher, it cost me £10.55. That's a huge premium and is around the kind of price I will want to pay for the bluray eventually. Is it worth it ? No. I heartily do not recommend gimmicks like Vue Xtreme.

Better clarity in movies - is good.
Better sound in movies - is awesome.

However, cinema are rarely set up to allow the viewer to exploit that betterness. You are rarely in the sweet spot for getting anything from the surround sound and the distance of eye from screen means you lose some of the detail. That said, the picture followed the action well, whereas other Vue Cribbs projectors turn action to mush as they're too old to keep up with the frame rate. The sound was also too loud and was distorting.

The best bits on soundtracks are not the loud bits. It's the quiet bits that set up the atmosphere for the loud bits to make you jump. I watched the Das Boot directors cut off bluray last night and the biggest gain that bluray has is the sound quality. Things like hearing the clangs of spanners or hushed voices build suspense. Especially in something that depends on sound like a submarine thriller.

So - higher quality in movies ?
Cinema - save your cash. The distances involve conspire against getting anything out of the experience.
Home movies - huge benefit. Das Boot above and I'd cite Book Of Eli too for having sound that feels like the action is going through you.

You have to applaud them for effort though, cinemas need to keep the people coming through the doors in a time when things like movie channels on tv and movie services on the internet are taking the business away.

Gotta wonder how long the cinema will exist as an entity ? I like going to the cinema for the watching of movies with friends thing. But ... home cinema is a far superior viewing and listening experience.

When the amplifier plays nice that is. I'll leave it there before I launch into something about unreliable Onkyo amplifiers !

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