Oblivion | Varied Celluloid

Oblivion

Posted by JoshSamford On June - 23 - 2011

 

Oblivion (1994)
Director: Sam Irvin
Writers: Charles Band, John Rheaume, Greg Suddeth, Mark Goldstein and Peter David
Starring: Richard Joseph Paul, Meg Foster, Andrew Divoff, Julie Newmar, Carel Struycken and George Takei




The Plot: The year is 3031 and on a planet light years from Earth life has become quite a lot like the American old west. Dusters and cowboy hats are big sellers and if you smart off to the wrong person you may just end up with a hole in your head. When the evil reptilian creature Redeye (Andrew Divoff, of Wishmaster fame) comes waltzing back into the small town of Oblivion, this whole planet is about to be flipped upside down. Redeye quickly uses some new tricks in order to bypass the local sheriff’s force-field, which allows him to kill the lawman and take over the entire town himself. What Redeye doesn’t know is that this lawman has a son named Zack Stone (Richard Joseph Paul) who happens to be quick on the draw, but Stone isn’t the type to take advantage of his prowess. In fact, he holds a secret about himself that prevents him from doing just about any harm to any person. Will Zack manage to fight back and save the town of Oblivion, or will it simply live up to its own namesake?

 

The Review

In the year 3031… it’s cowboys and aliens, or so says the new tagline attributed to the 1994 Full Moon Picture production: Oblivion. The only thing for certain is that in the year 2011… it’s all about capitalizing on bigger Hollywood productions. Although nowhere near as dishonest as The Asylum and their ‘similarly titled’ genre films, Oblivion is certainly hoping to cash in on the success of the soon to be released Harrison Ford title Cowboys & Aliens. If one were to actually buy into the advertising, and god help anyone that did, they would no doubt discover one incredibly odd little tidbit of cinema. The would also be left quite angry, I’m sure, due to the budgetary differences between the Harrison Ford film and the Andrew Divoff title that we are discussing today. What Oblivion actually is, instead of being a CGI-filled piece of action and excitement, is a throwback science fiction tale that is quite the ingenious piece of b-movie mania.

Featuring an all-star cast of B-movie luminaries, Oblivion is the culmination of all things that made the early nineties great within the straight to video b-movie market. Directly from the mind of Charles Band and his team at Full Moon Pictures, Oblivion is a strange brew of every western cliche turned over on its head and then re-invented with a sci-fi twist. Although you might think that this concept would give the movie an incredible aura of cheese and corniness, that fact actually marks the very reason to see the movie in the first place. After five minutes of screen time, it should be quite apparent that this movie isn’t going to be entirely serious.

The best moments in Oblivion come from its general spoofing on the idea and gimmickry of the science fiction genre, but its weaker moments tend to come across when the film falls into pure slapstick. The comedy ranges from snarky and subtle, to “smash you over the head with a sledge hammer” levels of broad humor. The small twists and inventions within the genre are where it excels, such as the opening moments where we discover new twists on the old “gunslinger walking into town” when we find that the new gunslinger is an alien being. This alien, who we discover later to be Redeye, stumbles into a very cliche western saloon/brothel where we watch a group play a friendly game of poker. However, this game of poker isn’t played with cards but with strange digital square boxes that resemble overgrown calculators. Later on we see the western cliche of an arm-wrestling match played out but instead of using a rattle snake on the table, usually used in order to raise the stakes, they use a peculiar alien-like frog creature. This is a title that definitely knows the genre that it is spoofing.

When talking about the major selling points that should be capitalized upon for promoting this title, aside from the utter ridiculousness of it all, you really have to mention the insane cast. We’ve got Andrew Divoff as Redeye, who appears to be doing his best impersonation of Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen from Back to the Future 3… but with alien makeup. Meg Foster, best known for They Live, stars as our cyborg-deputy sheriff. Due to her bizarre eyes (the color of her eyes are so bright, its like they aren’t there) she has always looked a bit cybernetic to me in the first place. This movie just re-enforced my belief that she is a cyborg from the future sent back in time to star in really crazy science fiction movies. George Takei shows up in what has to be the most outrageous performance of his career. His southern accent leaves a LOT to be desired and his riff on the Star Trek line “I’m a doctor, not a [insert line here]” makes for one of the most cringe-worthy scenes in the movie. It is all in good, goofy, fun though and the movie generally tends to work for what it attempts.


The Conclusion

While I won’t try and fool anyone into thinking that this is an epic piece of science fiction or even a passable attempt at comedy (for the most part, its groan inducing when it tries too hard), but for all that it lacks it makes up for with its general ridiculousness. This is a movie I would put on if I were trying to show someone just how insane low budget movie-making had become during the early part of the nineties. It’s a brilliant example and a fun piece of “B” movie magic. I give it a high three. It’s not quite a four, but I’d still recommend checking it out.




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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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