Old 04-10-2013, 11:05 PM


Watching Oblivion it’s evident very early on that director Joseph Kosinski (‘Tron: Legacy’) had envisioned a science-fiction entry that would be heralded as ground breaking. With the heavy promotion surrounding the film amping up its action angle, it comes as a surprise to see the final product much more sombre and looking to bank on the intelligence of its audience over their need for predictable action. Indeed you have to hand it to Kosinski for his pure ambition, but finally, Oblivion lacks any true originality as far superior genre entrants (and saying which ones will spoil the twists of the film) spring to mind during its lengthy course.

As we learn from the narration provided by Tom Cruise’s commanding officer Jack Harper, a heated war between mankind and extraterrestrials has been fought, sixty years on Earth has been decimated, and the remaining inhabitants have been evacuated to one of Saturn’s moons. “We won the war, but lost the planet” as Harper states it, and along with his companion Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough), he remains one of the few humans still on Earth, employed as a technician whose mission is to travel out and maintain the drones that protect the larger machines extracting what is left of the planet’s resources. Keeping an eye on their progress is Mission Control, also known as Sally (Melissa Leo), a cheerful but unyielding leader who is constantly seeking confirmation on whether or not Jack and Victoria remain an ‘effective team’, something that is clearly a necessity in their line of work.

There’s an imminent sense of danger looming as the number of crippled drones being discovered with their nuclear fuel cells removed is spiking, and due to this act seemingly being the degenerate work of the alien race known as Scavengers, Jack is naturally curious and suspects there is more to these doings than what’s on the surface. His suspicions are confirmed when a rogue spacecraft known as Odyssey comes crashing down to Earth, carrying with it a handful of astronauts suspended in a state of deep sleep, one of whom Jack seems to have an instant connection with. Her name is Julia Rusakova (Olga Kurylenko), and somehow she appears frequently in a series of haunting visions Jack has been experiencing where he visualizes himself on the streets of a distant, yet familiar New York City and eventually the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
As hard as Kosinski and his screenwriters Karl Gajdusek and Michael Arndt try to keep their cards close to their chest, it soon becomes quite obvious where ‘Oblivion’ is planning on going; the very nature of Jack’s being, and his relationship with Julia in his previous life proving unsurprising in their revelations. Then there’s the introduction of Morgan Freeman as Malcolm Beech, a resistance leader who himself urges Jack to look beyond the obvious in an almost ironic case of what we’re expecting is exactly what is going to happen.

However once it is accepted that the film isn’t going to be as grand as it wants to be, its strengths start to shine through, starting most notably with Kosinski’s visual style. As he demonstrated with ‘Tron: Legacy’, the director has a distinct way of transporting his audience to a world full of striking detail and rich imagination, and due to the fact that he’s working with a stronger script than that of ‘Tron’, he’s been able to display a true sense of maturity as a filmmaker, easily balancing the larger, more action filled moments with scenes of soft intimacy.

Complementing the restrained tone of the film is the surprisingly subtle performance of Cruise who, despite treading familiar ground in terms of his stoic character Jack Harper, is still able to carry a film off his name and despite all the personal drama surrounding the actor, he is still arguably one of the strongest industry players in terms of cinematic consistency. The scenes he shares with Freeman aren’t as great as they should be, and surprisingly Freeman’s turn feels more like an extended cameo than anything else, but they hold more spark when playing off Riseborough and Kurylenko. This doesn’t come as a fault to either actress though as they are both notable in their respective turns as the women in Jack’s life, but moreso due to the internal heartache experienced by Riseborough’s Victoria and the slight uncertainty in Kurylenko’s Julia towards Jack.

Whilst Oblivion is likely to disappoint genre fiends looking for their next sci-fi masterpiece, and as the action movie it’s presenting itself as it will find harsh criticism, it is by no means a waste of time as it proudly boasts the work of a filmmaker who is in tune with the sensibilities of the genre. He may be guilty of recycling familiar elements, but there is still something intriguing here at the end of the day, and if nothing else there’s a gorgeous display of visuals that make this futuristic leap worth the trip.

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Old 04-11-2013, 12:36 AM
You make it sound very tempting to see but I'm wary of Cruise and the fact his action films can be similar. I expect he survives and saves the day? course he does.

It does look visually striking but that's all so far for me.
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Old 04-11-2013, 11:33 AM
I'm really excited for this myself. Can't wait!
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Old 04-12-2013, 11:39 AM
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