So I managed to get myself down to our mini-maxiplex, and catch up with something I missed...
(there will be spoilers to follow. REALLY MASSIVE PLEASURE KILLING SPOILERS. You have been warned!)
So this is a film that is rather less than the sum of its parts. But what parts they are! A post-apocalyptic setting, fantastic production design, clones, spaceships, big things blowing up...
And yet I can't help feeling that many of these parts have been used better elsewhere.
The protagonist is unexpectedly a clone... Moon.
Assaulting an alien mothership with a trojan horse nuclear attack... Independence Day.
The Big Bad is a glowing red mechanical eye... 2001.
Walls and walls of cloned humans... The Matrix or Battlestar Galactica.
Apple-tastic production design... WALL-E.
Tom Cruise is a cocky prat... The Color of Money or Magnolia.
And doubtless I could go on if I had sufficient will to live. There are other problems as well: the lazy voiceover setup that implies its falsity by its very existence (and thus deflates any revelations that follow), the way that vast quantities of earth and soil have been dumped on New York yet have failed to knock down the Empire State Building, the way that highly trained astronauts devolve into helpless objects of lust and romance as soon as they start serving alongside Tom Cruise, and perhaps the worst offence for those of us who like to retain some sense of realism when it comes to space travel: the aliens came for our resources. Chiefly our water.
At this point I have to sigh with weariness. For *&!%'s sake, has this machine intelligence never heard of Trans-Neptunian Objects? The Frost Line? Oort Clouds? Comets?
(where do you think we got our water from?)
But still. I didn't actually hate the film while I was watching it. It was well-directed and very pretty. And it was trying really, really hard to be thoughtful while throwing in all the FX fun and games we've come to expect from cinematic science fiction. All the flips of understanding the protagonist went through suggest that there's a seriously creepy episode of Sapphire and Steel just begging to gasp its way to the surface.
It didn't make it, though. More's the pity.
(one last point that made me lose all sympathy: in the credits, the film claims to be based on a graphic novel. Therefore I thought for a moment that the comic might reveal what the film could have been... but no. Because the comic doesn't exist. It was a brief detour in development during the Writers' Strike. It never actually got done. And yet for some reason they claim it exists. So now I feel doubly cheated).
(and another point: did they give it a pointless, irrelevant name because they knew the title didn't have to bear the burden of interesting the potential audience due to the words 'Tom Cruise' on the poster?)