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The film begins with the premise that is somewhat derivative, a post-apocalyptic Earth, Tom Cruise as a droid repairman, some eye candy for him and an ominous older woman who gives them order via screens and is obviously not trustworthy. Due to the story relying heavily on it's surprises there is little that I can give away, just know that it has a little more to it then you may expect. Tom Cruise is his usual action hero that we are all perfectly used to seeing at this point. The sci-fi technology and vehicles are unimaginative and forgettable with nothing to make them stand out and are completely interchangeable with anything else from similar modern sci-fi features.
Whilst the film has an interesting story bland and uninterested acting take over and the story veers away from originality and back to the safety of overdone cliches. One of the most mindless of these cliches is the ending, they really have the cake and eat it too going for an abundance of action hero cliches without the balls to really go through with anything. And in the end we don't even really learn much about the world that it is set in, they leave so much up to ambiguity that the film has no character, there is no more story her, no potential for sequels as this is clearly a case of sticking Tom Cruise' name on a generic script and seeing if people buy it. Go ahead and watch it if you want some unoriginal sci-fi action but if you are a fan of the genre or looking for a quality film then there are far better features out there.
So ‘Oblivion’, Tom Cruise’s latest, some say where his career is heading fast. I disagree, back on Science Fiction form with this and Live Die Repeat. In fact I’m never quite sure what the media problem is with Cruise, other than he won’t admit his sexuality and is a scientologist, a religion/cult he clearly uses to protect his privacy rather than book a seat on a spaceship come the end of the world. I like Tom and he is a genuinely charismatic A-List star that still looks good on screen and can pretty much bring any action movie to life, celebrating his 50th birthday on set in this stylish and enjoyable Sci-Fi composite.
It’s from young and exciting director Joseph Kosinski, who arrived with the impressive looking Tron: Legacy. Cruise states that he loved the original look of that film and that he would love to work with Jo, who pushed his graphic novel Oblivion on Cruise with a passion. The producers liked Kosinski so much they awarded him a hefty $120 million budget to bring his vision to life, which hauled back $286 million to date, Tom Cruise third biggest North American release, the multiplexes having an appetite to see Cruise back in action movies once again.
Its 2077 and Earth has been ravaged by non- conventional warfare with an undisclosed alien force for the last six decades, a shattered Moon up in the sky and a desolate Earth surface evidence of. The humans declared victory after a nuclear attack and the aliens obliterated, the remaining humans evacuated to the TeT, a giant tetrahedron shaped space city orbiting high above the planet, the plan being the humans will have to colonize Saturn’s outer moon Titan as the Earth dies.
Down below giant fusion engines suck up Earth’s remaining oceans to power the TeT. These vast superstructures are supervised by engineers Jack (Tom Cruise) and partner Vika (Andrea Riseborough), who live high in the clouds in a penthouse style observation living quarters called Tower 49 to oversea the operation and maintenance of the pumps. For support TeT controller Sally (Melissa Leo) deploys military drones, activated when there is a threat to the fusion engines or to Jack and Vika.
The scavengers are a small band of hostile forces trying to blow up the drones and fusion pumps. Jack, in his small but armed air transport vehicle, stands between them and the TeTs survival. Jack and Vika must work well as a team and as a couple to sustain the security of the fusion reactors, their main job to regularly fix the drones. But with just two weeks to go until they return to the TeT, Jack has been having strange dreams about a beautiful woman about to ascend The Empire State Building with him just before the war, in the year of 2017. All humans had their memory erased so they forgot how terrible the war was for a fresh start and so how can it possibly be a memory from his past? But as the attacks on the drones increase and his dreams become more vivid he begins to question events on how he got to be here on tower 49. He knows something’s not quite right and begins to explore Earths remaining beauty by going off reservation, including the restricted nuclear zone. When a spaceship crash lands after a beacon is activated on Earth and the contents of that ship result in a run in with the Scavengers, everything is about to change and his grasp on the only reality he knows begins to slip.
There is no doubt Oblivion is a movie to be seen rather than a puzzle to be deciphered. It doesn’t make a lot of sense towards the end and certainly open to interpretation, the directors intention. The best Sci - Fi often is. Critics complained it was pure hokum and the director making it up as he went along (Yes, like 2001: A Space Odyssey made any sense guys) and the cast tripping up in the plot holes. I, on the other hand, really don’t care that much if Sci-Fi plotting doesn’t bare close inspection as long as the film looks amazing and packed full of ideas and invention, which Oblivion is. Science Fiction is exactly that and left up to the audience inquisitive mind to figure out. It’s definitely one of those films explained better and more rewarding on a second watch when the pieces have already been put together. There are moments in the film when you are completely baffled though.
Its shot mostly in Iceland and the apocalyptic landscapes looks incredible, especially on Blue Ray, more than hint of the original Planet of the Apes here. Kosinski does cherry pick iconic moments from other great Sci-Fi movies but more in tribute than laziness, many of them improved. The Robocop drones are cool and HAL most definitely reanimated and bits of Star Wars and Blade Runner also knocking around. But guess what, George Lucas and Ridley Scott were also magpies to create their Sci-Fi worlds.
If you enjoyed Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium or the recent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes then you will enjoy this. Right from the off you are enchanted by the panoramas Cruise character patrols and the mystery he slowly unpicks engaging. You’re left guessing on many fronts and the director doesn’t try to push you either way, the deleted scenes clearly suggesting he wasn’t going to let the studio dumb down his movie. This is a good film and my first Sci-Fi recommendation on Ciao since Blomkamp’s District 9.
A rare commentary by Cruise himself as he joins the director to talk about a movie he clearly enjoyed being involved in. It’s a technical one though.
The band M83 (nope, never heard of them) did the soundtrack.
Not that many
-Promise of a New World: The Making of Oblivion-
Good solid behind the scenes stuff with five different vignettes.
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), a veteran remaining on Earth whilst machines extract its resources after a apocalyptic war, soon discovers that all may not be as it seems when he rescues Julia (Olga Kurylenko), a woman who appeared in his recurring dreams. As he breaches boundaries and questions the mission he''s been assigned to do, he unearths something about himself that will change his life. The movie opens beautifully but the pace is rather slow. Despite the intrigue, the action doesn''t come quite quickly enough and the audience is left wondering what will happen for too long. The explanation of what happened to Earth was quickly skipped over and factually questionable. Whilst there are really interesting themes such as identity, subversion and dystopian futures, a lot of it is lost in a mediocre script and filler scenes that don''t add much to the story. The scene near the end when Jack discovers the truth about himself was worth a lot more time- more like that similar scene in ''The Island'' or ''Total Recall''. As the movie climaxes, it becomes rather predictable bar one shocker and ends literally explosively, but thankfully well and satisfyingly. ~~~CAST~~~ Tom Cruise- Jack Olga Kurylenko- Julia Morgan Freeman- Beech Tom Cruise overplays these type of roles and has seemed to lost his charm. It feels like it has been done before and he does himself no favours in this. Not the Minority Report or Vanilly Sky (or even Mission Impossible), his acting lacts umph physically and emotionally. ~~~OVERALL~~~ ''Oblivion'' has a strong premise, but with a run time that is a tad overlong, poor script and a slow start, feels done before and lacks the power that it strives to achieve. That said, it boasts beautiful imagery and interesting themes of a dystopian future.
In the year 2077, Earth has been left ravaged by war with an alien race known as Scavs, a war won only by resorting to nuclear weapons after the moon was destroyed and tsunamis and earthquakes struck our planet. Relocation to space station Tet and Titan, one of Jupiter's moons, only a few were left behind on Earth on elevated base stations to repair droids which monitor and destroy any remaining Scav activity. Tech 49 Jack Harper is teamed with Vika Olsen in their shift as a droid repair team; their time is coming to an end and soon, they will be able to leave for Titan. Then Jack stumbles across some Scavs and realises that all may not be as it seems.
There is an element of mystery to this sci-fi thriller. Large parts of the film progress rather slowly, and although this serves to build up the tension, it's not as clear cut as that as you're let wanting something more to happen a lot sooner. This may well be because I had the impression it was going to be more of an action film than it is, but sci-fi thriller is probably a better way to describe it. Cleverly written and transferred to the screen, you can see that the vision of the original creator has manifested itself onto the big screen. It helps that Joseph Kosinski, the creator of the original graphic novel upon which this is based, is also the producer and director, as well as having adapted the screenplay.
Things are bleak. Pale grey is the dominant colour, and morose acceptance the dominant mood, at least for the majority of the film. There are some surprising moments, and a few of the twists are very well delivered, but the overall feeling is one of moroseness. A lot of the basic plot is delivered through a voiceover from Harper at the beginning of the film, and the scientific nature of the film is probably a good vehicle for successful Hollywood star Tom Cruise to choose top billing. He gets a lot of flack, but I generally tend to like how he acts in films and usually like watching the films. He has been involved in some howlers, but generally gets it right. Oblivion suits him well, and his understated delivery matches the mood throughout the film. He is well supported by Andrea Riseborough as Vika, and as other characters start coming into play, they also have a generally positive impact on the film; in particular Morgan Freeman and Game of Thrones' Nicolaj Coster-Waldau.
Action does eventually come, and the fact that it arrives almost at the same time as a few revelations that flip the plot on its head mean that we virtually jump from a generic run of the mill sci-fi film to one of action and twists. It makes you sit up and watch, and although there are plenty of unbelievable moments, you do have to suspend belief when it comes to sci-fi anyway, and this is no exception and shouldn't be considered so. The film has respect for the viewer, and doesn't try to patronise by unnecessarily explaining everything; it does however ensure that enough information is given so that we're aware of the developments. We're given the chance to make our own inferences at times, which I do like as long as things are somewhat cleared up at the end, which they are.
It's a shame that the depth wasn't a bit more involved. The first part of the film does take so long to get going that it gets a bit boring. There are easy spoilers to make, so I can't go into too much detail, but Harper's occasional dreamlike flashbacks are in contrast with the security-based memory removal protocol of droid repairmen, and these flashbacks early on confuse you more than anything else. I know they're designed to make you start thinking while the slow stuff is happening, but it just confuses. Of course, all becomes clear later on, but I have to admit that it took two or three attempts at watching this before I finally made it all the way through.
It's worth a watch, and so easily could have been even more than just this. There's some sophistication at play here, and with a clear vision from the director, then you get the message loud and clear. The Hollywood ending is annoying, but I won't go into details to spoil it for you. Cruise is actually very good, and the support is well matched to his lead. I probably wouldn't watch it again by choice, but if it was on then I certainly wouldn't grumble about having to sit through it. Worth a watch.
I have had the opportunity to watch Oblivion for some time now but for one reason or another have not got round to it until now. The reason for me watching Oblivion was the fact that I went to the cinema to watch 'Elysium' recently and that sort of put me in the mood.
I knew that Oblivion starred Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman and I knew it was sci-fi based but I knew little else, which as I always say, is a bonus for me because I like to keep my knowledge of a movie before I watch it down to a minimum.; in fact I very rarely watch trailers unless I am in the cinema.
A lot of things are said about Tom Cruise, the cocky little upstart from 'All the Right Moves', the romancer from 'Cocktail' and the even cockier kid from 'The Color of Money'. Inevitably he has drawn criticism for his involvement with the Church of Scientology and his public divorce from Katie Holmes and her subsequent bad-mouthing of the church and Tom's ways. For my part, I don't give a damn about Tom Cruises private life; it is none of my business or anyone else's for that matter. I don't care what anyone says or thinks either because I like Tom Cruise in a movie. In answer to some of Cruise's critics Oblivion is his twentieth movie to gross over two hundred million so you can read into that what you will.
So before I talk about my thoughts on the movie, let's take a look at the story.
The story follows Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), who is one of the last drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Through narration Jack tells us that it is the year 2077 and that earth was nearly destroyed sixty years ago, during a war against a race of alien invaders known as Scavengers, which are referred to as 'Scavs' in the movie.
The Scavs destroyed the moon, causing massive earthquakes and tsunamis. Large parts of the earth were left inhabitable and the survivors had little left. Many starved but some went to ground and survived under bedrock. The Scavs then launched their invasion to try and kill off the last inhabitants of our planet. They were only defeated by the use of nuclear weapons which, understandably left three quarters of the earth destroyed.
The remaining humans moved to a large space station called the "Tet," a massive space station that orbits the Earth, which is powered using energy harvested on Earth by giant ocean-borne power stations that generate fusion power from seawater. This was run by some of the remaining big-wigs and scientists. The rest of the population was moved to Titan, one of Jupiter's moons were humans made a new home.
The Tet sends out robot drones that search the land around the power stations and it is Jack's job to maintain the drones along with his partner Victoria "Vika" Olsen (Andrea Riseborough). There are still some remaining Scav bandits left on Earth who in order to live will do their utmost in destroying the power stations. Jack and ViKa receive their orders from Sally (Melissa Leo), their mission commander, who is stationed on the Tet. Jack flies recon and repair missions to the surface, while Vika supervises from Tower 49. Vika is essentially Jack's eyes when he is on the ground. Tower 49 is a huge structure that rises three thousand feet above the earth (that is taller than any building we have now on earth, including the world's tallest building. On top of the structure is the landing pad for Jack's super futuristic helicopter type aircraft and a futuristic house complete with a swimming pool with a see-through bottom that looks down on three thousand feet of air.
Vika wants everything to run smoothly as the two of them are due to leave Earth and join the other survivors on the Tet in two weeks before moving onto Titan. Jack and Vika had their memories wiped five years earlier for security reasons and to help them concentrate on the job of maintaining the drones and the security of the power stations. Jack has recurring dreams about meeting a mysterious woman at the Empire State Building before the war - which was before he was born. Jack keeps a secret retreat in a forested area he sometimes visits that is full of old vinyl records and a record player and any other things he finds of use, especially books.
Jack is eventually comes into contact with the leader of the Scavs on earth, Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman) and after a ship crashes and he finds the woman from his dreams in the wreckage he realises that all is not what it seems.
Firstly I will say that I really enjoyed this movie and I thought it was well made. I thought it was better than Elysium and even though the story has come under some criticism, I rather liked it. Sci-fi movies are sometimes accused of being too far-fetched but in my opinion anyone who thinks that shouldn't be watching a sci-fi movie in the first place. The times that I have heard someone utter the words 'Oh, that wouldn't happen', makes me cringe. Fiction is meant to be about things that can't or wouldn't happen, that's why bit is called fiction; it is fictional and therefore made up.
The story is taken from the original idea and graphic novel by Joseph Kosinski. This talented chap also wrote the screenplay, produced and directed the movie.
Direction wise I thought it was pretty crisp and flowed along nicely. The script was simple and concise and it was not hard to follow at all. I think the simplicity of it is what makes it an enjoyable experience.
I've already mentioned Tom Cruise and how he is perceived in the media but I like the bloke and thought he did another great job in this movie. I think since Cruise has grown up and matured he seems to be able to pull an audience and he knows when to underplay a scene. A lot of action or adventure movies nowadays have forgotten the art of subtlety and they each try and out-do each other with action scenes that are over-played. 'Man of Steel' is a perfect example of that and some of the fight scenes were ludicrously over-done and you couldn't tell what was going on most of the time. Tom Cruises recent films, including this one and 'Jack Reacher' have a really nice subtlety about them and the fight scenes aren't too in your face that you can't get to view them properly.
You hear Morgan Freeman before you see him of course and that silky voice fits straight into the movie. It is not a massive role but when he does appear he does well.
The two female roles are both played well. Andrea Riseborough as Victoria is both appealing and irksome at the same time, the character that is, not the actress. She plays the part so well and bounces of Cruise intelligently.
Olga Kurylenko plays Jack's wife and again is a good fit on screen with him.
The twist in the end of this tale also makes for great viewing and puts an interesting spin on developments and it is with this twist that they should have really ended the movie, but instead we had to have the favoured Hollywood ending to tie everything up in case anyone goes home and does themselves in after not being able to live with the more fitting and truthful ending.
The last five minutes of the movie is really out of sync with the rest of the story and I would've preferred the harder truth ending where everything doesn't tie up so neatly and to be honest so up-chuckingly perfect.
I would still recommend this movie if you're a fan of Cruise or indeed if you just want to watch a movie with a difference that isn't trying to be too clever and is still clever enough to provoke some thought.
I give Oblivion three stars out of five.
Opening with an information-heavy monologue detailing how basically Earth got destroyed by nasty, highly advanced aliens and that he's the only one of few people still left on the planet, it isn't difficult to see just where "Oblivion" is headed. And we fear that it's not due to end up in a happy place any time soon. As is the case with many science-fiction films, humans don't exactly fare well, in the beginning at least, and the mention of "memory-wipe" further complicates things and puts a darker spin on an already ambiguous set-up. There is a lot to take in during the first few minutes or so, but it serves a greater purpose as the film progresses so it's worth paying attention and trying to retain as much of that as possible.
Even though Joseph Kosinski's $120-million science-fiction blockbuster looks like your typical post-apocalyptic, big-budget shambles, there is a much more potent underlying background story that is happening to Tom Cruise's Jack. What he thinks he knows, his dreams, his memories, are all jumbled in his head, as he is frequently plagued by visions of a woman (Olga Kurylenko) who is not his partner. The mysterious woman and the Empire State Building make frequent appearances in his nightmarish visions, something he cannot quite piece together. In fact, Jack has been left behind on Earth with his partner Vicki (Andrea Riseborough), and the two are tasked with overseeing the final few operations left on Earth before they can safely escape to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, where the rest of humanity have escaped to.
But just why is he unsure of all the commands that is being given to him by the creepy Sally (Melissa Leo)? Why does Vicki fail to share in his curiosity? Where are these supposed "Scavs", the aliens who destroyed humanity? And just who is this woman he's seeing every day? Plus why is he being followed by someone wearing what can only be described as a poor man's version of a Darth Vader suit? All legitimate questions, all of them properly addressed to, but not without Kosinski taking his time in taking us through the harsh, barren lands of what once was our planet. It's beautiful yet unsettling at the same time, as the sweeping cinematography wonderfully captures all the details in many single long takes. We follow Cruise as he goes on many outdoor excursions on his bike or fancy helicopter, and with this we see all sorts of landscapes, and it's no doubt a visually spectacular experience.
The cast all do an excellent job in bringing to life the deep imbedded love story that is wrapped around all the science-fiction madness. Headlining the whole project, Cruise is as usual a reliable lead with a touch of instability and curiosity to make his character work. Of the two women, the one faring better is Riseborough, who ends up as a tragic heroine in this twisted tale and it's her highly effective, cold, steel-like quality that brings out the overall sadness in the narrative. And once again Leo proves she only has to open her mouth to send chills down our spine. "How are you all doing this beautiful morning?" "Are you an effective team?" both seem like harmless greeting questions, but with Leo's delivery, you can instantly tell there is something a lot more sinister happening. And it's always good to see Morgan Freeman pop up in a film to provide his voice of exposition for some calm, chilled out explanation on what the hell is going on. Kurylenko, as you might have guessed, does in fact have a larger role to play, and is a significant part of Cruise's life, and the chemistry the two of them share is a sweet one, but there is something very shallow about the way her character is dealt with overall.
A healthy portion of the production budget seems to have been spent on building the spotless sets; all cold and silver on the edges, smooth and shiny on the exterior, so perfect in a way that makes us doubt the cleanliness of it all. Something that is far too immaculate for its own good has its eerie qualities and that is exactly what is achieved here. The penthouse pad Cruise and Riseborough live in appears to be every OCD patient's dream, and yet there is vast empty space that has an air of coldness and distance.
Fans of kinetic science-fiction action will also no doubt get their fair share as Jack pilots the aforementioned funny looking bubbly helicopter, often hunted by equally bubbly but nasty drones which have fierce speed, high fire-power and persistence. Although tasked with telling quite a dense story of many layers, there is absolutely no shortage of action sequences. Without getting too bogged down by the story, but also not having gunfights as its primary focus, Kosinski hits the right balance for maximum entertainment, as well as coherent storytelling and clear structure.
The film's main weakness comes when it has to wrap things up. Instead of taking the logical route, it forces an awkward, senseless happy ending, one that doesn't do the rest of the film justice. With so many holes punched into the plot to make this Hollywood ending fit, it undermines all the hard work and build-up the film has put together previously. I was reminded of the shockingly poor ending of "Source Code" and the modern day films' incessant need for a happy ending, no matter the negative impact it has on the rest of the story. More frustrating is the fact that there is in fact a beautiful cut-off point where the film could have been neatly finished - instead it goes on for a few more minutes, squeezing in all the corny cheese into the final mix.
Minus the final 10 minutes or so, "Oblivion" is an often thought-provoking piece, one that also makes sure everything looks perfect, as well as the right amount of fun delivered. Despite the major screw-up of its finale, it is still highly recommended.
About the film
Oblivion is a 2013 science fiction film that is based on an unpublished graphic novel of the same name. The film has a rating of 12A and a run time of 124 minutes.
Set in the year 2077, the Earth was nearly destroyed 60 years earlier due to the destruction of the moon and an invasion by aliens known as Scavs. Tech 49 Jack Harper is one of the last drone repairmen on Earth and is stationed in Tower 49 with his partner Victoria. As a team, they must send any remaining resources to a space station called Tet and keep the drones active. Jack and Victoria believe that their mission is nearly over and soon they'll be able to leave Earth, joining all fellow survivors in a colony on Titan.
Before their mission began, Jack and Victoria had their memories wiped but Jack is having flashbacks of the Empire State Building and a woman he is there with before the war ever happened. On a recon and repair mission, Jack comes across a falling vessel and is surprised to find humans inside; humans who include the woman of his dreams. The woman's appearance makes Jack question everything he has been told about his mission.
Tom Cruise as Commander Jack Harper
Andrea Riseborough as Victoria Olsen
Morgan Freeman as Malcolm Beech
Olga Kurylenko as Julia Rusakova
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Sykes
Melissa Leo as Sally
Zoë Bell as Kara
What I thought
There have been a lot of good films released already this year, and a stellar looking line up still to come. Oblivion was one of those films that I wasn't too sure about to begin with. I wanted to see it but wasn't holding out much hope about how good it was going to be.
The premise of Oblivion was good if not at all that original. Jack and Victoria are seemingly the only humans left on Earth and they're in charge of making sure the drones protecting it are in working order and nothing goes wrong. Jack and Victoria are in a romantic relationship which doesn't often show too much emotion. The characters are much like drones themselves, doing what their superior, Sally, tells them to. The relationship between Jack and Victoria was a strange one because there were questions for me about how real it was. The plot goes on to show Jack's flashbacks to another woman and New York before the war. Later, the unknown woman turns up in a ship that crashed and everything goes a little crazy after that, with Jack realising his life isn't quite what he thought it was.
Tom Cruise is really back on top form in Oblivion. While some of his more recent roles have been questionable, I really think that this was a good role for Cruise. Maybe this was because there isn't a lot needed for the role other than for him to be the action hero. I don't think Cruise does too well in roles that require a whole lot of emotion as he is pretty stiff and mechanical. However, he does do the action hero role well, as proven in Mission Impossible etc. Cruise gets to run around a deserted New York, shoot loads of guns and look like, well, a hero. The small amount of emotion needed for this role Cruise carries off well though. He is thoughtful and inquisitive and also shocked when things take a strange turn. I have been a big fan of Cruise in the past (mostly his 90s films) and I think as long as he doesn't take roles which ask for too much, he does just fine.
The rest of the cast was a strange mix. Victoria is played by Andrea Riseborough. The character doesn't appear to have a mind of her own and likes to follow rules. Because of this, the character comes across as quite bland and boring. Even her clothes make her blend in far too much, so much so that I wondered why she was in the film to begin with. Character number three in this strange love triangle is Julia who is played by Olga Kurylenko. Luckily, she does make the film a whole lot more interesting. Julia is someone from Jack's past who he is not supposed to remember. She helps to bring out a more emotional side of Jack and also does very well herself.
One cast member I was extremely disappointed with however was Morgan Freeman. By having a supporting role, his talents are incredibly wasted. While his character, survivor Malcolm Beech is one that adds depth and interest to the plot, he isn't around long enough and he doesn't do enough. The reasons for his being around are explained well although again, not used to the full. This aspect of the film could have been done in a much better way if time had been taken away from Cruise riding around on a motorbike or flying a funky looking ship type thing. I wanted character depth and development but Freeman gets neither of these things. Instead, he is a good idea that was wasted.
The setting of this film is visually stunning though. The tower in which Jack and Victoria live is where New York used to be. Instead of the busy and bustling streets, there is a wasteland where nothing grows. These scenes contrast greatly from the flashbacks which Jack has of New York. The world during 2077 is a wasteland made up of large deserts and ruins without much actually growing there. There are scenes of dark, abandoned buildings with the small remains of human life showing through but in contrast, there are also wonderful lakes and forests which are thought to have been destroyed. The dark colours compared to the bright and colourful greens and blue are wonderful to see and it really shows how different some places are.
As much as I seem to have slated to cast and characters, I did really enjoy this film. The plot was interesting even though it wasn't anything new. The whole film was pretty exciting and interesting, as new things are discovered over the course of the film. Oblivion has a mysterious element to it where you are never quite sure where the plot is going to go. Although the big twist was a big shock to me, many others did think it was quite obvious. I thought the plot could have gone in a number of directions but I did like the one that was chosen.
All in all, this isn't the greatest film ever made but it was certainly entertaining to me.
Having failed to audiences as Jack Reacher, Tiny Tom (Cruise) returns to science fiction (where he has previously enjoyed success with War of the Worlds and Minority Report). When I handed over my cash at the cinema, it looked a promising enough proposition: The trailer seemed decent, the cast reasonable and the plot interesting. Oh, how wrong you can be.
Years ago, Earth was invaded and its Moon destroyed. To defeat the alien threat, Earth's governments were forced to launch a nuclear assault so that, whilst the war was won, the planet was more or less lost. Earth's surviving population colonised Titan, a moon of Saturn and now only Jack, a technician and Victoria, his flight control are left behind to maintain the giant machines that harvest Earth's dwindling resources for use back on Titan. Of course, nothing is ever quite what it seems.
As I said, Oblivion looked promising. With a starry cast (Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman), reasonable trailer and graphic novel roots, it looked like a decent enough science fiction film. Unfortunately, despite the odd moment of promise, it never really fully delivers on its potential.
Oblivion's major problem is that it feels so unoriginal and derivative. It borrows from pretty much every major science fiction film of the last 40 years. The ruined earth setting is recycled from Planet of the Ape; the idea of humans leaving Earth to escape alien attack is pure Battlestar Galactica; some elements are taken from sci-fi Indie hit Moon; whilst the ending is pure Independence Day. Throw in ideas borrowed from Alien, Star Wars, The Island and many other films and you start to get some idea of the scale of Oblivion's lack of imagination.
Probably due to its magpie nature, the plot is absolutely riddled with holes (particularly the patently ludicrous ending). It's a mish-mash of ideas that never really come together. It tries to be complex and baffling, but sci-fi aficionados will have little trouble working out what is going on. The plot is a melting pot of ideas (some work; others don't) which leads to a confusing, unsatisfactory mess that never really settles down into a coherent story until it is too late.
In practical terms, this leads to a feeling of disinterest and disengagement. I got about 50 minutes into the film and suddenly thought "Hang on; I'm just not interested in any of this." When you've just shelled out to go and watch a film at the (increasingly expensive) cinema, that's not a good thought to have.
It's a shame because Oblivion shows promise and with a little more attention to its storyline and a touch more originality, it could have been so much better. There are a lot of promising touches which show the film's potential. The setting is powerful, with the ravaged Earth convincingly portrayed. Everything is reduced to little more than desert and sea with just the odd ruined building breaking up the landscape. Weather patterns have changed so that the Earth's surface is now deeply inhospitable, either unremittingly barren or victim to raging storms. Frequent glimpses of familiar, but ruined landmarks (the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building) help to cement the idea that this is the fate of Earth. Of course, you expect decent special effects from a Hollywood blockbuster, but these were still quite impressive.
Also impressive are the droids which Tom Cruise's character has to repair and maintain. Although essentially little more than solid, round balls, they are nevertheless full of character and there are a number of scenes in which they are made to look genuinely menacing; whilst they never speak, the whirrs, clicks and other robotic noises sound far more threatening. They reminded me of a rather malevolent version of the round robot in Disney's The Black Hole (yet another example of the film's lack of originality!) and were actually quite scary.
Yet even here, potentially good things give way to more negative impressions. Although visually spectacular, the film actually feels cold. Cruise's sky-base is all gleaming white metal and glass, looking like something out of an Ikea Catalogue; whilst the endless desert leaves you with no affinity for this broken Earth. The sterile feel means you never really engage with the setting, the plot or the characters. I genuinely think that if the whole planet had blown up part way through and the film ended abruptly, I would have felt nothing.
The cast don't really help matters. For all his star power, it feels like Cruise is phoning in the performance. Pretty much every scene consists of him: a) frowning, b) smiling, c) smiling then frowning or d) frowning then smiling. The lack of any convincing emotions from the lead character again leads to a disconnect between the viewer and events. The same is true of Morgan Freeman. It goes without saying that Freeman his presence and distinctive voice adds a certain gravitas to even the silliest of lines, but as with all too many of his recent performances, you get the impression that his heart isn't really in it.
Oblivion pretty much banks everything it has on the box office appeal of this pair. As such, the ladies don't really get a look in. Olga Kurylenko appears too late to stop the boredom and isn't given much to do even when she arrives, whilst Andrea Riseborough as Cruise's partner Victoria looks pretty, but doesn't make much of an impression beyond that.
Oblivion tries hard to be good, but it strews so many obstacles in the path of the viewer that it's hard to like. A derivative, lacklustre plot, uninspiring acting and cold, sterile feel all create barriers for the viewer. There might be a few decent special effects and the odd reasonable piece of action, but it's not enough. With a bit more care and imagination, it could have been decent; as it stands, it's an inferior amalgamation of several other science fiction films.
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Running time: approx. 124 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013