Posted by: pop-break | April 23, 2013

Film Review: Oblivion

daniel cohen is in cruise control …

oblivion-movie-poster-tom-cruise-joseph-kosinski-featured-630x430

Plot: Earth has been left barren after being invaded by an alien race known as the Scavengers. While Earth was victorious, the human race was forced to leave the planet, and await their new home on one of the moons of Saturn. As the humans wait in a space station above Earth known as Tet, two humans remain on Earth to protect valuable resources that are needed for their new home. With two weeks remaining on their mission, technician Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) discovers they may not be the only humans currently left on Earth.

Oblivion_0...110331

Robot Drones. Sleek futuristic outfits. Barren Earth. Aliens. Touch screen technology. Tom Cruise. Yup … sounds like a sci-fi movie. And this is a sci-fi movie in the purest sense. The genre is practically oozing out of the screen. And while this is far from a perfect film, it’s a solid little sci-fi romp with good characters, nice visuals, and a weird looking Morgan Freeman.

With any Tom Cruise movie, we’ve always got to start with him. He doesn’t really have to stretch his wings here as Jack Harper, the quintessential likable hero. Cruise proves once again he can carry a movie in his sleep. What I like about Cruise’s character is he basically plays that old man we all know from our childhood who opens every conversation with, ‘Well, in my day…’ But Harper isn’t an old man, more like the one kid who actually listened to the elderly as they told their boring stories.This film takes place in 2077, yet Harper still talks about Super Bowls that were played in 2017, and listens to Led Zeppelin records in his abandoned cabin. His disdain for the technological drones he is forced to repair, and his reluctance to leave Earth is the most relatable aspect of the character. What also works well are the two female leads who play very well off of Cruise’s character.

morgan-freeman-in-oblivion-2013-movie-image-2

Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) is Jack’s team member, and girlfriend. She’s the perfect foil for Jack, as she is desperate to finish this job, and join the other humans on the Tet station, constantly rejecting Jack’s fascination with Earth, and a life with limited technology. While the film clearly wants you to side with Jack, Riseborough does a good job of not playing the character too cold. You understand her actions as someone who knows they have a job to do, but still indulges Jack when she can. You buy their relationship, even though there is clear friction from the start.

The other female lead is Julia, played by Olga Kurylenko. Without giving too much away, Julia is basically thrust into this new wasteland of Earth, and doesn’t know what the hell is going on. Kurylenko does a great job of looking scared, angry, determined, and calm, all at the same time. As her and Jack’s relationship starts to grow, she becomes increasingly more interesting as her back story unfolds.

But aside from the solid characters, all sci-fi movies need good visuals, and Oblivion is
right up there with the best of them. The contrast of all this advanced technology surrounded by a desolate earth looks fantastic. The film is gorgeous: crisp special effects, and CG that isn’t abused, and blends in well with the environment. The sound is also very pristine. I especially love the flying drones that roam around the earth, and love listening to them beep and bloop. It’s like an advanced R2-D2.

Unknown

The action is solid all around, in particular Harper’s transport ship which looks especially sleek in battle. The problem is there isn’t enough action. I appreciate all the quiet character moments, but the film does drag. The actors are doing a good job, but these characters aren’t that interesting to carry those types of moments.

And when a film drags, it makes it harder to pay attention to the plot, which is made even worse in Oblivion as many plot points are poorly explained. I never want to be spoon fed anything in film, but it seemed like Oblivion went out of it’s way to make things confusing. For example, there’s a NASA mission the film keeps referring back to that was very clunky. I know this was important at the end, but the director (Joseph Kosinski) needed to edit this a little better, as it’s kind of a mess. There are so many big moments like this one where you just have to take the movie’s word for it.

What also pissed me off was how skittish the movie was. Every time something massive got introduced in the story, the film just decides to abandon it for a while, and goes on to something else. There’s a huge revelation that comes into the middle of the film, but instead of getting into it deeper, Harper and Julia go to the cabin to reflect and talk … what?! Uh, could we get back to this big thing you just discovered, we don’t have time to listen to your Pink Floyd records. They also do this when Morgan Freeman’s character comes into play. We barely get to know anything about him as Harper and Julia go do other things, rather than ask him some more questions. Freeman’s character desperately needed more screen time for how crucial he was in the movie.

Tom-Cruise-in-Oblivion

The film is also painfully predictable. As much as I liked Melissa Leo’s small role as Sally (Jack and Victoria’s supervisor from Tet), you could just tell by the mood and tone of the character where this was going. I was able to predict a lot of things early on, and in typical sci-fi fashion, they open the movie with a hazy memory that the protagonist doesn’t fully remember yet, so they throw a mystery in your face right from the start.

If you’re a fan of sci-fi, this is right up your alley — good characters, good visuals, and a strong score. And because you are so invested in the characters, even though the plot is a little messy, the ending is still impactful. Oblivion is a solid sci-fi entry, but could have been great if it was cleaned up in a few more spots.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: