Saturday, October 6, 2012

Oblivious: "Oblivion" (1994)

After a town's marshal is killed by the local baddie, the marshal's son rides back to his old hometown. Along with his new found Native friend and an injured deputy, the marshal's son has a few run-ins with the villains (who are after the local precious metal), which leads to a showdown in the desert.

Straight-forward Western plot, right? Wrong, since the film takes place on an alien planet, the deputy is a cyborg, and the villain looks like a human snake.

This idea probably looked great on paper to the, count 'em, FIVE different writers credited on the project, but this does not work for the same reason as "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai..." did not work- the laughs just are not there. Not only is this film not funny, it is eye rollingly not funny. My preschool age son came home from daycare with funnier jokes than those here.

The cast includes some known names like Julie Newmar, Meg Foster, Carel Struycken, Isaac Hayes, and "Star Trek"'s George Takei. I hereby declare a moratorium on all former "Star Trek" cast members complaining about what an albatross being on that show was- how they were forever typecast, and how unhappy they were being on a network TV show. Takei, who was very good in "Prisoners of the Sun," plays a drunk doctor who says many of the signature "Star Trek" lines. Your college roommate doing "Star Trek" impressions was not funny, and neither is Takei. Former Catwoman Newmar acts like a cat in her opening scenes as a madame named Miss Kitty (get it? get it?), but then the writers and directors forget to tell her to continue the schtick. Foster looks stunned that her agent fooled her into this.

The script has the setting like the Wild West, but with science fiction twists that continually call attention to themselves by elbowing you in the ribs and pointing. Look, they have an ATM machine! Look, gold is worthless! Look, they have ceiling fans outside! The result is an overly cute idea that never pans out, and this is not helped by bored direction and locations. Look, the undertaker's building is shaped like a coffin!

"Oblivion" should have been a straight science fiction western, or a straight over the top comedy. Mixing all these genres makes one huge wrong and no right. And hunker down for the sequel, if you dare. (*) out of five stars.