What you may have already heard about Oblivion is true. It’s highly derivative and far from the best sci-fi movie in recent years. That’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable. I had a great time watching the movie at the cinema. I just knew that it was no modern classic.
In the future, Earth has been attacked by aliens. The humans won the war, but the planet was destroyed thanks to chaos caused by the destruction of the moon and, eventually, nuclear weapons. Tom Cruise stars as Jack, a man who spends his days repairing drones that are required to protect and maintain filters removing water from Earth to send to Titan, where humans now live. Jack works and lives with Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and the two of them are just a couple of weeks away from their “tour of duty”. Jack has questions, he even seems to have memories, despite his obligatory memory wipe five years ago. Victoria doesn’t. When something lands on Earth and Jack goes to investigate he discovers something that could change everything he knows, or thinks that he knows.
If you have even a passing familiarity with the works of Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick or any other sci-fi author influenced by him (and you probably do, even if you don’t know it) then there will be many moments during Oblivion when you start to get a feeling of deja vu. And before lots of sci-fi fans start to scream out other names of writers they consider to be better and/or more influential I will just say that Bradbury and Dick are the two I know most about. And you’d be hard pushed to find any better anyway.
Director Joseph Kosinski (who co-wrote the screenplay with Karl Gajdusek and Michale Arndt, and also developed the comic book – released to coincide with the release of the film – with Arvid Nelson) seems to be the guy to go to if you want really nice visuals with little substance backing them up. That worked just fine with Tron: Legacy (which had a full movie already setting things up and developing a fanbase), but Oblivion needs something more to it.
The cast all do a decent enough job. Cruise is in his standard Cruise mode (I resisted the Cruise control pun there), Riseborough is very good, Kurylenko is just fine and Morgan Freeman enjoys acting like Morpheus Sr. I’m not sure whether that last comment is good or bad, but I’m leaning towards the latter.
Essentially, Oblivion is a film that gets all of the technical aspects right, it just lacks some real heart. It’s almost there, Cruise does his best with his main role, but it falls short. Still, visuals that are always a real treat for the eyes and some decent moments throughout manage to keep it just above average.
DIRECTOR: JOSEPH KOSINSKI
WRITER: JOSEPH KOSINSKI, KARL GAJDUSEK, MICHAEL ARNDT
STARS: TOM CRUISE, ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, OLGA KURYLENKO, MORGAN FREEMAN, NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU, MELISSA LEO, ZOE BELL
RUNTIME: 126 MINS APPROX