Sci-fi films are a dime a dozen these days. Their releases are fast becoming almost as frequent as horror movies and romantic comedies. Many have very familiar themes while some have tried to be a little more innovative. Based on the unpublished graphic novel of the same name edited by Radical Comics, director Joseph Kosinski’s “Oblivion” borrows some elements from other sci-fi films and merges them as something all his own. I am not a fan of Tom Cruise, but once again, I do have to admit that the man can pick his movies to fit his familiar style of acting.
The film takes place in 2077. Earth is a desolate world because a war between humans and alien ‘scavengers’ have rendered the land almost uninhabitable. Most of humanity have moved to Saturn’s moon “Titan” with a space station called Tet serving as communications between Earth and Titan. After the war, remnants of the scavengers and a clean up crew are all that remains in the planet. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one such ‘repair man’ as he oversees the maintenance of drones and resource extraction equipment along with his lover and communications officer Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). The two are almost done with their mission as they look forward to leaving for Titan when Jack discovers an escape pod containing a woman named Julia (Olga Kurylenko). Seems like there is a lot that Jack does not know, and this woman may be the key to it all.
Looking at the trailer, one can see the groundwork of the film. Yes, the film is pretty straight-forward, but it does have some twists and turns that serve to add some intricacies to its plot. Granted the core plot is pretty predictable and it would be easy to figure out where it was going. However, I cannot truly make statements about how the surprises come into play since this is a movie whose narrative impact would rely on its viewer not knowing much about it. To describe the plot, think “WALL-E” (I know, of all films to borrow from), “Moon” (with Sam Rockwell), “2001: A Space Odyssey” all merged into one. It all has some nods from Japanese anime tropes to drive its human themes and drama. There are hints of spirituality in its narrative, as with the definition of a soul and just how it is defined.
Yeah, the plot isn’t quite original but at least the characters do have their charms to grow into its audience. Much of the film is driven by Jack Harper, as the character becomes the main thing that drives the development of its plot. I know Cruise acts the same way as he does in every film he is in, but somehow, he fit the role of the lead protagonist. Jack was a man who lives in the past somehow, and this is trait makes him question, take chances and be curious, and this is what makes him a little interesting. It does take a little more time to get going but when it does, the film is pretty entertaining. Julia (played by human Viagra machine Olga Kurylenko) is the catalyst as to how the film goes into its more thrilling sequences. Andrea Riseborough does a good job as a supporting character as she was able to express the needed emotions as well as the enigmatic situation that they were in. Morgan Freeman plays a rather familiar character (the type that he has played in the past), but his screen time gave the film its moral and human stance.
“Oblivion” is a very handsome film. I mean, the special effects and set designs were gorgeous. It was obvious that they were carefully thought out. As with most films that deal with an apocalyptic theme, familiar landmarks are used to connect with the viewer and to give a feeling of dread. Desolate images were also present to give the viewer that feeling of a ‘civilization lost’, certain spots had touches that looked inspired by the photos of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic explosions. The film also has some great visual effects but I do have some reservations about the character designs. The Scavenger suits looked a little too familiar (notice the helmets) while the drone designs looked very “WALL-E ish”. The craft that Harper uses looked like a cross between a helicopter and a hover-craft. The designs of the big reveal in the Tet station were just a little too uninspired for my tastes. It looked the same save for one or two add-ons in its designs. Be that as it may, they were rendered well that it was hard to discern just what was real or what was CGI. From a visual standpoint, the CGI effects were real good, the sound effects also made maximum use of the Dolby Digital sound.
I guess while I found “Oblivion” to be entertaining, I thought it could’ve been better paced, and some areas of the plot just wasn’t as well defined. The film also has a huge lingering plot hole, but it was easy to be immersed in the action and visuals that it would be easy to overlook it. No, “Oblivion” is not innovative with its themes, but rather an exercise of what is familiar re-imagined and applied for its audiences. Sci-fi fans would easily discern its flaws, but I thought it was a well-made film that I did not let it bother me. It gets a Light Recommendation from me, while not excellent there are worst movies in theaters these days. It is worth a watch at least once. [3+ Out of 5 Stars]
I first saw the trailer for Oblivion back in the beginning of March. I can’t really put my finger on why but after watching the trailer I was really interested in the story of this movie. The premise sounded awesome and the film looked really good, not to mention I never miss a chance to catch the newest Sci-fi flick. Oblivion follows Jack a drone technician working on the remnants of planet earth, 60 years after a devastating alien invasion … more