The only major release this week is Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise. This post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie is beautiful, but your opinion of it all depends on how much you’re willing to forgive it for over-referencing revered films in its genre. Oblivion takes every novel idea from these films and becomes science fiction casserole.
It has been 60 years since alien Scavs have attacked the Earth. We fought back with nukes and drove them away, though in turn, the entire planet was destroyed and deemed unfit to live on. The remaining humans are in an orbiting ship called the Tet and are waiting to be shipped off to one of Saturn’s moons. The clean-up crew is comprised of Jack Harper (Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). Their task is to survey the Earth and repair drones that wipe out any remaining Scavs on the planet.
Victoria stays on their elevated house above the clouds and can’t wait till their job is finished so they can join everyone else on the Tet. Jack, on the other hand, can’t get enough of Earth. He spends as much time as possible on the surface where he is haunted by mysterious visions of life before the war.
His mission gets complicated when he finds a group of human survivors led by Morgan Freeman. These survivors live in a compound built into a mountain. Woah, wait a minute… Early on in the movie, we are told that Tsunamis destroyed much of the world, then all of a sudden Morgan Freeman and his followers are found in a secure shelter! Is this the unintentional sequel to Deep Impact?! So the meteor was really an alien attack! Where is Elijah Wood?
Okay, I’m done…
As Tom Cruise finds out more clues about the war and his past, he is no longer part of an “effective team” and tries to stay one step ahead of his superiors.
Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) directed this movie and it definitely has his signature all over it. He absolutely knows how to get the right feel for the score, which is performed by M83. The problem with Tron: Legacy was the lack of a story, whereas the problem with Oblivion is way too much story crammed into 2 hours and it still feels long.
There are so many plot twists in this movie that it gets distracting. There is one notable one especially, ripped from a far better movie, that feels tacked on to shock people who have never seen the original source of the twist. (I have to be vague here. Just by saying the title of the movie would ruin it).
The first third of the movie is mesmerizing as you follow Harper on a barren planet. The visuals are fantastic. The middle of the movie is quite slow and you just want it to get to the climax. Oblivion won me back with the final third. Yes, it is rife with elements from better sci-fi movies, but it had my attention.
This movie really is like a Science Fiction Greatest Hits CD. It’s nice to have several cool moments compiled into one place, but the moments/songs fit better where they belong on the original movie/album.
Once again, Cruise does not get enough credit. He single-handedly carries this movie. Yes, he’s never not Tom Cruise, but he knows how to carry an audience from scene to scene. Andrea Riseborough as Victoria, Harper’s assistant, was great. I hope to see more of her in upcoming films. Well, not “more of her,” but more roles….you know what I mean. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Olga Kurylenko, who Harper wakes from an orbital slumber (good name for a band). Her appearance in the films definitely shakes things up.
Is this movie worth seeing? If you’re looking for a visually pleasing movie, then yes. Just know now, that it won’t knock your socks off. It won’t be remembered as one of the science fiction greats. It’s a really good dollar theater movie.
A tagline for Oblivion reads, “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before!” Sadly, because it borrows from better movies, it’s like everything you’ve seen before.