Amazon’s “Bliss” is ignorant towards its many flaws as a sci-fi drama

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‘Bliss’ ignorantly believes that it’s smarter than it actual is – Photo Source Amazon Prime Studios.

Joseph Ferrer, Arts & Entertainment Editor

When done properly, stories with science fiction settings can be used to explore concepts and themes in engaging ways that captivate audiences into their worlds. Amazon Prime Video’s “Bliss” desperately believes that it’s accomplishing this and offering a unique take on the simulated world concept. Instead, it ignorantly portrays an unoriginal, incoherent mess of a film that has little of actual worth to say.  

 

Directed by Mike Cahill, the film follows Greg (Owen Wilson), a disrespected office worker living in a seemingly depraved society before he meets Isabel (Salma Hayek), a telekinetic who tries to convince him that the world that they live in isn’t real. Rather than trying to break free from the supposed simulation, the two then become lovers and greedily take advantage of the world with their newfound powers.  

 

Bliss’s premise is unbearably unoriginal as it wears its inspirations from films like “The Matrix” and “Inception” on its sleeve. Right from the start of the film, it’s painfully obvious that the world isn’t as it seems which creates no suspense or mystery behind what actually happens in the world. The explanations of how the technology of the film works and the truth behind the world are also incredibly confusing and underwhelming. The film gives viewers new information through characters giving random exposition dumps whenever it feels like it’s convenient to do so instead of naturally leading up to it.  The film so poorly communicates information to the viewer that its themes and messaging are wildly incoherent.  

Both of the main characters are incredibly unlikeable with Greg turning into a bumbling deadbeat due to Isabel’s constant manipulation of him. Isabel is particularly aggravating as she’s the only source of meaningful information in the film and instead of continuously progressing the plot, she manipulates Greg and turns him into her lover. The film seems to revel in the two characters’ obsessive debauchery and because the film doesn’t use it to properly highlight any themes or provide meaningful commentary, it becomes uncomfortable to witness.  

 

What makes the interactions even worse, however, is the ham-fisted dialogue of the script and the poor acting. Characters behave and talk in completely nonsensical ways and at times it feels like characters have to say their motivations and thoughts out loud repeatedly as if the audience was not smart enough to actually piece together what they’re feeling and going through.   

 

“Bliss” also has several garish flaws from a filmmaking perspective as well. There are certain scenes in the film that clearly cut between multiple different takes of the same shot with the camera angle not changing which gives the film an amusingly bad sense of shoddiness. There are also scenes where the camera jarringly cuts several times within a mere few seconds which makes it incredibly hard to discern what’s actually happening. These issues become increasingly prevalent as the film goes on with the last 30 minutes in particular having some of the worst editing in a recent film.  

 

“Bliss” could potentially be amusing due to its bad qualities but the nearly two-hour runtime makes it incredibly hard to sit through. The entire film is a confused mess of ideas that tries to tell a new message with a tried and true sci-fi formula but ends up not saying anything meaningful in the process.