Review: Oblivion

Oblivion-Poster

Hey, it’s been a while. But sci-fi season is starting up again in earnest, so expect a few more articles from here on in. Anyway, this is the first big budget film where Tom Criuse plays a character called Jack since his last film.

Instead of being some sort of secret agent (or am I thinking of Mission Impossible?), this time Cruise is playing the last man on Earth who is essentially a caretaker. The rest of humanity has left Earth for Titan, a moon of Saturn, after a global war fought against shadowy aliens called ‘Scavs’.

Apparently the Scavs invaded Earth after destroying the Moon (a la Despicable Me), therefore affecting the natural order of things, the world is then finished off by a mixture of earthquakes, tsunamis and the ensuing invasion, which was eventually won by the humans, but only after ruining the rest of the planet with nuclear weapons. It’s Jack’s job, along with support from his partner, Victoria (the film stealing Andrea Riseborough), to repair the drones that protect the massive fusion generators that suck up sea water and turn it into fuel for the human colony on Titan from attacks from Scavs.

What we get is actually more of a romantic drama between the two main characters, where Jack seems to have a memory from his life before the war. Everyone , apparently, had their memories wiped. He remembers a woman and a trip up the Empire State Building. Victoria, on the other hand, is much more in control of herself and seems more single-minded about the job at hand. Then a craft crashes and the sole survivor is a woman (Olga Kurylenco) who  throws Jack’s world into a spin and forces him to re-evaluate his enemy, his allegencies and his own existence.

Oblivion is an odd film. The visuals and the world created by director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) are brilliantly constructed, from the open shots of post war New York with all its landmarks buried beneath hundreds of metres of silt leaving gorges that were once streets and just the tops of buildings like the Empire State still visible, in one shot you can see the torch from the Statue of Liberty, which is clearly an homage to Planet of the Apes. Add to this the ultra modern living quarters of Jack and Victoria which is suspended in the air by long supports (like in The Jetsons)  and looks like an advert for all the most modern, minimalist home appliances, complete with an entirely glass swimming pool. The design for the transportation is pretty good too with round drones that are like massive versions of the floating droid in the Star Wars film that sedates Princess Leia, Jack’s craft is a pretty sleek an holds a foldout motorbike…handily for Cruise as he never seems to do a film unless his character gets to ride a bike.

So, as well as a film full of ideas and visuals from other sci-fi movies and cartoons (come to think of which there’s the omnipotent ‘god’ being is a giant machine with a red-eye, like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey), it also contains a lot of the tropes from Tom Cruise films. In the first 20 minutes you have Tom waking up topless, taking a shower and then riding a motorbike there’s also a bit of underwater hanky-panky thrown in there too. As the film progresses it turns into a lot of jumping in slow motion while things explode in the background, but this is a Tom Cruise film after all!

Actually I rate Cruise quite highly, as megastar action actors go he actually can act, but the script isn’t up to very much. Even Morgan Freeman seems to coast through his role despensing knowledge in a Morgan Freeman-y way. But, as I hinted at earlier, I though the strongest actor in the whole film was Andrea Riseborough who managed to convey how much she cared for her husband in both a heartfelt and, at times’ creepy way. She had quite a malevolent quality to her in some scenes.

It’s not the most original film ever made, it’s hard to be original in the sci-fi genre, but the visuals are stunning and it is a fun romp that doesn’t end with the traditional cliffhanger for possible sequels, which makes a nice change. From and acting standpoint, both Cruise and Riseborough are excellent with the latter actually out doing her megastar opposite number.

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2 Responses to “Review: Oblivion”

  1. What does Kermode make of this film? And why do cinema website synopses never tell the truth?

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