So I have two gold standards for judging fan-edits:
1. Does this edit improve the film, replacing it on your shelf (or at least provide an equally-good alternative take)?
2. Is this a good movie, worth having "on the shelf"; in other words: re-watchable?
While I think the answer for this edit to #1 is "yes", it makes many improvements to the film, the answer to #2 is "no", it's still not a very good movie.
I've watched a LOT of movies at this point, so I'm not looking for a film to re-invent the wheel. Very few ideas haven't been used somewhere before. The real question is if a film has something original to add to the previous use of the idea, or if it can do the idea better. One of the big problems with Oblivion is that almost all of its ideas have been used before...and better. And the spins that it tries to add to those stories, it really fails to connect in a way that makes sense.
Firstly, I should say that this director makes gorgeous films that sound great. The presentation, like with Tron: Legacy before it, is amazing. You could probably edit this into about ten short 5-7 minute music videos with no dialogue, and it would be interesting and tell a cool story. But the explanations of things just kill this film, even with this edit. No fault to the editor, this thing is seamless and looks great, there are hardly any mis-steps there. Really the only thing I'd fault is that the music in the opening scene seemed over-loud to me, and it was oddly placed, too. It's an epic track, building to a grandiose wall of sound, but we're watching establishing shots of a normal daily routine, and the characters are going about their morning very matter-of-factly. I'd change the music there and let things ramp up slowly.
The other problems with this film are all related to the story and narrative flow, so SPOILERS from here on...
The conceit of the film is that aliens broke the moon, and the ramifications from that were earthquakes, flooding, massive seismic shifts, etc. It's weird in the beginning because they lead you to believe there was a nuclear war and there's radiation everywhere, and yet we see the Radioactive Zones appear safe. I was thinking "what kind of a bomb destroys entire landscapes except for isolated significant landmarks?" Later when we learn the truth about the war, we're left to believe that the destruction of the moon and the earthquakes caused mountains of sediment to rain all over the cities and bury them, except of the tops of tall buildings. Except that doesn't make any sense. For one, you can see the remnants of the moon still in orbit around Earth. Not enough bits came into Earth's atmosphere to bury all the cities. Also, there are no meteorites in the night shots, so no bits are coming down any more. ALSO, all the buildings have vanished except traditional ones like The Empire State building, which is far from the tallest building in New York, or the most stable. It definitely wouldn't be the last one peaking up over rubble. The whole state of the Earth is just cheesy movie logic that depends on the audience being stupid.
Another example is the whole system that the aliens have set up. The conceit of the movie is built around a huge twist: our hero is actually a clone (never seen that before!) and he's actually working for the bad guys (oooh, what a twist!) Okay, I kid, but actually that could be cool. If it made any sense. You're telling me that these aliens have conquered planets all over the place, and then they come to Earth as this unstoppable force. They come to drain our resources, especially our water (never mind that there are much bigger supplies of water on moons and other planets further out in our solar system). So they send all these drones out, and then they make clones go fix them.....what did they do before they had Earth clones?! They couldn't fix their own drones?! Or they could, but somehow it's easier to do this whole brainwashing/cloning scheme...like, requires less resources? If so, how come they don't have tons of clones of other species on their ship from when they've done this before? Like everything else in the film, we have a series of images and scenes designed to make the audience go "woah!" but which don't connect in any meaningful way.
There are a lot of other plot holes, but the biggest remaining one relates to the other clone, Tech 52. As the film is ending, the setup is telegraphed from a mile away. Tech 49 left him tied up by that cave, did the editor think we forgot about him? Clearly, 49 doesn't feel bad about sacrificing himself because he knows that he's leaving his wife to start again with another version of himself. It's a set-up done better in other sci-fi (I won't say which series if you haven't seen it) but it's hollow here. I suppose cutting him out of the end of this film, we could imagine that Tech 49 got fantastically lucky and impregnated his wife on the first try, but it's just another weak plot point of convenience after so many others. (Scanners on the alien ship can't detect the Scav leader? And the dying leader somehow survived long enough to make that trip? And the scanners couldn't detect 10 power cores, but they could detect Tech 49's perspiration level was too high? etc, etc) The original film ending is set up too clearly for this to not be obviously missing in this edit, despite the added plot convenience factor.
In the end, this version of the film is streamlined and delivers the story idea as well as it can. It's just not a well thought-out idea in the first place. Cruise did another great-looking sci-fi movie that had a much better story just a couple years later, Edge of Tomorrow, or watch Altered Carbon, or Ender's Game, or Blade Runner, or Planet of the Apes, or 2001 or heck even The Maze Runner. There are just so many sci-fi films that execute these ideas better... Oblivion is pretty appropriately named because it has nothing to justify its existence.
Top notch edit which takes a fine movie and makes it really good, in my opinion. I bought Oblivion when it first came out on Google, started watching it twice, fell asleep (there may or may not have been adult beverages involved) and then forgot it existed for a long time. I downloaded Beezo's edit a while back and finally gave it a whirl. I'm really glad I did; I can recommend this edit to just about anyone into sci-fi. This is now a pretty good movie. I went back and watched the theatrical after and enjoyed it far less. A bunch of minor annoyances add up to a far worse experience.
A/V Quality: 10 - Looks fantastic and crisp. This is really a gorgeous movie and the edit looks great.
Visual Editing: 10 - Great work, cuts were seamless.
Audio Editing: 9 - Nothing jarring, seamless work. The score did occasionally overwhelm but it sounded pretty similar in the theatrical (though I had to watch it on my tablet so it's hard to compare).
Narrative: 9 - Original would be a 6. By removing unnecessary information and nipping and tucking little moments galore Beezo has made for a much stronger narrative. The viewer is genuinely surprised at some plot points which are pretty much telegraphed in the opening voiceover. The plot isn't hard to follow, it's more showing than telling (rewatching the original made my head hurt how they overexplained everything to death with lots of superfluous, bad dialogue. By reducing some Tom Cruisey moments (which admittedly, I love but belong more in different movies - looking at you motorbike jump) and reducing his inner dialogue we are left with the actor doing some great pensive acting. It shines through here instead of feeling dumb with his inner voice. Looking back on the voiceover parts, sure, you can see it as visuals that look like a voiceover is happening. But without that knowledge, its' just a great sweeping intro to the world, and thoughtful finale. I'm only giving it a 9 because of a couple extremely minor plot things which I never would have noticed if Beezo hadn't pointed them all out in his audio commentary. :)
Enjoyment: 9 - Damn good movie, this edit will completely replace the theatrical for me. Great job.
Minor quibble: The blu-ray menu is mapped oddly. Instead of up and down going up and down between the two options, down is down and then right or left is back up. From there, the other direction goes back down. Easy to get past without issue but thought I'd mention it (there was a similar thing on the Blade Runner blu-ray menu IIRC).
EDIT: Forgot to mention the commentary track, which was a real delight to listen to. Beezo explains his intentions behind each cut, and explains his process behind each and every cut (which was a ton more than I would have thought but all the nips and tucks really add up to a significantly improved experience). I would highly recommend listening to everyone interested in fanediting or who is already editing.
Do you recommend this edit?
Thanks for such a great review! Checks in the mail. :P
I have not seen the original version of this film. Since I had little interest in seeing the movie in cinemas, I thought it would be interesting to see Oblivion as a fanedit before seeing the theatrical cut. The AV quality seems flawless, and only one or two cuts are noticeable (placement of characters from shot to shot in one or two scenes). The narrative was mostly easy to follow, I found the first half of the film to be intriguing, exciting, and enjoyable. After a certain point, the film seems to draw inspiration from (or flat out copy) other sci-fi concepts from previous films (i.e. 2001, Moon, Independence Day).
That being said, those issues are with the film itself, and not the edit. I enjoyed the ambiguity of some scenes (and the overall tone of the film), and I really appreciated the lack of any sort of 'beat-you-over-the-head" VO that explains everything flat to the audience (apparently there was one in the original, based on the reviews here). A bit too much may have been cut concerning some dialogue: I did find myself having to skip back a few times to catch an important line that I missed.
The pacing of the film was great, the run time was a bit too long, and each scene flowed together really well. I think if I watch the edit again, I'll get more out of it, so I'll keep it for future use. Nice work!
Thank you for un-dumbing this movie. I don't know why studios insist on inflicting the SciFi audience with lazy storytelling cliches like a VO narration. Blade Runner didn't need it, Dune didn't need it, yet it persists. I've watched my Oblivion Blu-ray about half a dozen times now and I always skip over the beginning because I detest the narration.
I liked the opening montage and didn't miss the VO one whit. I don't know how someone who had never seen this movie before might react, but I knew right away this was a post-apocalyptic Earth tale. If that wasn't enough, you have the (re)telling of the story by Jack to Julia and all of the other references about going to Titan, etc.
Visually, this Fanedit looks even better than my Oblivion Blu-ray when viewed on a large plasma display, if that's possible. I did find the audio to be cranked up a bit in spots and had to use a db cut to my subwoofer to keep peace in the neighborhood. However the soundtrack and sound editing were very good and added to my enjoyment of the movie.
Of course opinions are going to vary about the alternative ending, but I'm glad you made some choices there. Its yet another reason why I would watch this Fanedit as opposed to another repeat viewing of the original. The result is a more immersive and thought provoking movie experience.