Oblivion Movie Review
After decades of war between humans and alien invaders called Scavs, the earth is rendered nearly useless. Earth won the war but the use of nukes and military warfare has destroyed the world to unsafe standards. After evacuating earth’s people to a more inhabitable place on one of Saturn’s moons, an “effective team” of Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) is stationed in a magnificent glass home (outfitted with its own very unnecessary attached pool no less) above the clouds. Victoria runs tech support, which consists of using an oversized touch screen iPad, while Jack does the dirty work of flying around on the earth’s surface repairing guard drones. Jack must remain vigilant and armed as there are still radiation zones and leftover Scavs lurking in the darkness. When a pod of humans crash land on earth, Jack begins to learn that his mission may not be quite as it seems.
I’m only scratching the surface with my description as OBLIVION has many twists and reveals. I wouldn’t say many of those twists and reveals are all that surprising but I’ll refrain from the spoilers nonetheless. While OBLIVION creates an interesting world with a story that could go a variety of ways, the choices made lack a certain originality nor do they contain a lasting punch. The run time feels much longer than the actual two hour length as it spends far too long on the drama that quickly becomes redundant.
Director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) knows how to make a great looking picture. The grand beauty of OBLIVION is clean, crisp and effortlessly striking. However, the story unravels in a way that is a step behind the audience. While we are waiting for the next moment, the camera is lingering on the previous one. Rather than celebrate the thrilling action by quickening the film’s pace, Kosinski attempts to force an emotional connection simply by keeping the camera on scenes longer than he should.
With that said, Cruise is a great match as the curious hero, who wants to do right by finding the truth. He’s got a natural believability as a relatable protagonist who doesn’t always listen to protocol. Accompanied by at times a gripping but also intrusive musical score, the action scenes look magnificent and provide sufficient intensity, albeit one is very similar to the Rebel Alliance fighting off TIE fighters as they destroy the Death Star in STAR WARS. While these items make an enjoyable picture, none of them bring it to the next level.
Like many films in the sci-fi genre, most of the setup in OBLIVION is told through Jack’s narration. Always a key that the audience knows only what he knows, which in this case isn’t much of the truth. As a science fiction fan, I admit that I allow a little more leeway into a film that creates a new world with unusual circumstances in an almost supernatural setting even if the presentation and choices are a bit sloppy. OBLIVION tells a fairly interesting premise, but takes far too many elements from past films that have told them better. I’m all for borrowing from others but OBLIVION doesn’t incorporate enough original ideas to propel itself to a memorable stature.
I think ultimately audiences will enjoy the film, but only at surface level. While the film is pretty to look at, OBLIVION can’t quite get past the ‘swimming in treaded waters’ aspect to go beyond average.