Oblivion

Oblivion

Tom Cruise stars in a sci-fi tale of duplicity and deception in “Oblivion”. As a drone tech stationed on the ruined Earth, he slowly comes to discover that all is not as it seems with his assignment.

The resulting tale is one of sci-fi drama and intrigue, mixed with occasional bursts of action. It’s an enjoyable, though not entirely original, science fiction movie.

In the year 2077, Earth has been decimated by a nuclear holocaust committed in self-defense. An invading alien race that humanity tagged “The Scavengers” destroyed the moon, forcing a cataclysmic disaster. When the “scavs” landed, the world unleashed their nuclear arsenals, destroying them, but also destroying the planet. Humans abandoned Earth and headed for one of Jupiter’s moons.

The story focuses on Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), a technician stationed on the now desolate Earth in order to keep the war drones that protect the towers that harvest sea water functioning. Sea water is being used for energy on Titan, and the towers which harvest the oceans are targets for the remaining scavs which survived the war. So Jack and his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) monitor and repair the drones in order to keep the towers protected.

At least that’s what Jack believes. As part of his assignment to Earth, his memory was “wiped”. Now, as he explores his zone of responsibility, he begins to question what’s really going on. When a spacecraft crashes and Jack witnesses the drones destroying the cryosleeping survivors, Jack realizes that something is drastically different from what he’s been told. When he’s able to save a sleep pod from being shot by the drones, and the woman within (Olga Kurylenko) turns out to be a woman he’s dreamed of, Jack’s entire world view is thrown into question.

Once the leader of the scavs (Morgan Freeman) reveals himself shortly thereafter, nothing will be the same for Jack again.

“Oblivion” is a sci-fi tale that borrows heavily from several other movies within the genre. I recognized shots that pay homage to “Star Wars”, “The Matrix”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Wall-E”, “Planet of the Apes”, hell, I even recognized a moment from “Waterworld”. I’m sure there were more. The story itself has highly derivative elements, as well, though I’m loathe to reveal the film it reminded me the most of for fear of spoilers.

The main issue, for me, surrounding “Oblivion”, though, is that it revolves too heavily on the process of revealing the truth of what’s happening on the planet earth. It can’t be confused with an action movie, there’s not enough action (not to say there isn’t any). It’s more of a sci-fi mystery film. Regrettably, the “payoff” doesn’t pack enough punch to elevate the movie into the ranks of great sci-fi films. Even if the trailers hadn’t essentially spoiled the fact that Jack is on the wrong side of things, I think any intelligent viewer would have quickly discerned that for themselves, and many will make an educated guess as to what the “secret” really is.

Which isn’t to say that “Oblivion” isn’t entertaining. It is. It’s slickly produced and visually impressive. The glossy white, glass enclosed vessels and living quarters of the team contrast nicely with the dirty, dark, dank living conditions of the “scavs”. The action is light, but well done when it comes round. And of course, with a cast like this, the acting is top rate. Freeman doesn’t have the largest role ever, but Tom Cruise gamely gives it all he’s got. Andrea Riseborough was excellent as his teammate Victoria, as well. This was the first I’ve seen of her, and I thought she gave a memorable turn.

“Oblivion” was an entertaining piece of popcorn sci-fi. Nothing that will rise to the ranks of the genre’s best, but not a completely disposable effort either. It’s visually striking, well acted and entertaining, but lacks the originality and memorable storyline for me to call it great.

B+

Daniel Fogarty

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59 thoughts on “Oblivion

  1. Solid sci-fi piece, gorgeous visuals, and a lot of touches/highlights from previous well-known in the genre. Kind of a creative mash-up that made for an enjoyable cinematic experience. Fine look at this, Fogs.

    p.s., this really looks great in IMAX.

    • I imagine it would. I didn’t have that luck, though. :(

      Meanwhile, yeah, “mash-up” is kind of the operative word here, but it was fun. I didn’t dislike it. Thought it was a fair enough movie ;)

      Thanks, Mike!

  2. I can’t disagree that it is not the most original but what is these days. Great looking film I enjoyed it very much. Good review your score is right on point.

    • Thanks Issy, appreciate the support.

      I know “nothing is new under the sun”, but there are times you feel it worse than others. That was the case here, for me.

      Didnt mean I didnt enjoy it, though. As everyone is pointing out, its very good looking, and a fun flick overall!

    • Thanks Chris. I’ll put “Shadow Dancer” on my radar. Definitely checked through her filmography after seeing this and realized I hadn’t seen anything else she was in :(

      “Nothing groundbreaking but enjoyable enough” is a perfect blurb sized review for this one. ;)

  3. I am completely in love with the soundtrack, but haven’t seen the film, so I’m kinda biased, being a musician and soundtrack connoisseur ;) Still, your review sounds like what I was expecting from this thing. It is a Tom Cruise, pg-13 film after all, so uh…yeah, ’nuff said.

  4. The voice of reason…Very much in comparison with my review earlier in the week. Seen some overly favorable reviews around, that just my opinion.
    ” “Oblivion” was an entertaining piece of popcorn sci-fi. Nothing that will rise to the ranks of the genre’s best, but not a completely disposable effort either.” – AGREED.
    Many are saying that it shouldn’t be disparaged for referencing so much because…”well, that’s Sci-fi” I disagree because if that’s the case maybe we should all just give up on sci-fi now eh? Just because it’s a rich genre doesn’t mean new movies shouldn’t try, there is always room for invention no matter what the genre, and conversely, Sci fi has always had consistent, inventive movies over decades. It lost one of my stars simply for lacking originality. SPOT ON OPINION in this review Fogs, in total agreement.

    • The voice of reason? 8O That may be the first time Ive ever been called that! :D

      Thanks, Kev, now that Ive seen it and my review is up, I’ll be circling around to other folks’ reviews sometime this weekend.

      As to the necessity of being original, well, that gets harder and harder with every passing year. The trick is, how much do I feel it? And here, I felt it pretty frequently. :( Obviously that doesn’t mean I think we should give up on Sci-Fi!! :o

      • we’re on the same page and obviously would appreciate your thoughts on mine. We’re on pretty much the same page on this I think. Never give up on sci-fi! It’s rich, rewarding, worthwhile and can still be original simply because it’s fiction. The scope is vast.

  5. I think B+ is a good score. I had a really good experience with this movie and even though it did borrow from other sci-fi pictures I like the way it put them altogether. It’s not perfect. There were some issues with some minor characters and as you mentioned the visual money shot wasn’t that impressive. But I was glued to the screen thanks to the beautiful visuals and a story that I thought was pretty intriguing. I gave it four stars out of five.

    • Yeah, saw that when my subscription email came through. I think on an out of five scale, Im probably going 3.5. It’s not always a direct mathematical correlation for me when I switch between systems.

      The end was a bit of a let down, too. Not the “reveal”, mind you, though that wasn’t the greatest, but the last 15-20 minutes or so of the movie. I thought the finale was the weakest part, and that’s never really a good thing… :(

      • That’s interesting because the very and didn’t bother me. The big reveal didn’t really bother me. But there is a special effects money shot (That’s the best way to vaguely put it) that really fell short. As far as the story, the ending certainly wasn’t profound but I thought it was pretty nifty. It worked for me but in a lesser sense.

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  7. I think yours is the first review I’ve seen to actually list off the various sci-fi films this movie borrows from. Yet even so, I’m still yet to see anyone name Independence Day. That whole ending sequence came straight out of that movie, lol. But despite its unoriginality, I’ll agree that this was certainly an enjoyable flick nonetheless. Good review, Fogs. :)

    • Yeah, I probably missed that one due to the fact that ID4 isn’t amongst my faves. I’ve seen it, it was decent, it’s not one Ive revisited often since its release.

      You’re right, that’s a borrowed element, I was more caught up in some of the others. I didn’t want to spoil it in the review, but the reveal regarding the radioactive zone reminded me too much of a recent sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell 8O

  8. Good review! I am a fan of Tom Cruise so was excited about this one. Sadly it didn’t live up to my expectations. It looks beautiful and stylish but the script is a disaster….it really spoiled it for me. :(

    • I didnt think the script was a “disaster” per se… it wasn’t anything exceptional, though, I do have to cede that.

      I enjoyed it. Doesnt have a chance of my top ten or anything, but it was an entertaining enough film for this time of year :D

  9. I was gonna see this last night but… we were locked down. :( Probably next week then.
    I didn’t expect this to be the greatest thing ever, but it looked pretty good from the trailers. And with a pretty good cast with Freeman and Cruise made me want to see it too. Sorry it’s not exactly mind-blowing, but it should be fun and that’s basically what I thought I would get out of it. And I love looking for references so that should be fun too!

    • Locked down? Uh oh.

      It is pretty decent, I mean, I enjoyed it. I have criticism of it, it’s not perfect, and nothing I’m raving about, certainly, but it was still entertaining…

      Meanwhile, the visual borrowings were hard to miss. I probably could have thought of others, too, Mad Max, for one… but still, if you go in having fun with them, you’ll enjoy yourself more.

  10. Good review, i am glad you liked the film and you gave it a high score :D

    Personally the fact that for once I went into a film where I didn’t already know everything that was going to happen was remarkably refreshing :D

    Also I think John Kosinski is getting better at making films and I look forward to his future projects :D

    • I totally hated Tron Legacy but really enjoyed this so Kosinski has redeemed himself in my opinion. And yeah Riseborough was a stand-out for me. Good review Fogs

      • Thanks Mikey. I liked “Legacy” within reason, but I can see how it would disappoint people. Hopefully he’ll do better with the sequel… he’s already attached I believe.

    • I did like it Tim, yeah. B+ is kind of a high score for most places, around here, not so much. It was entertaining though.

      I didnt get that “not knowing what was going to happen” feeling that you did, LOL. I kind of felt as though I was able to predict what would happen next, for the most part.

      Kosinski did a decent job here as a director, it was the script that fell short for me. We’ll see how he does with the next “Tron”.

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  12. Good review. Fully agree with your final paragraph. I thoroughly enjoyed it while watching it (well, mainly the first half – before it turned totally predictable) but it’s not one I’ll ever feel the desire to re-watch.

  13. Watched Cruise’s Jack Reacher film last night and felt it was one of those disposable B-movie entries that won’t make his highlight reel at the end of the day: sounds like Oblivion is another. The trailers look gorgeous, but I’m worried by the “cobbled together from other films” comments popping up in a lot of reviews. This is disappointing.

    • Uhmmmm… Hm. Yeah, probably a notch better than Reacher? Reacher was absolutely disposable. I think this might be one step above. Indeed, checking that grade against this, I gave Reacher a B- and this a B+. (Good job by me! LOL) The difference really is about that much, I’d say Rodney.

  14. Good review, Fogs. I really enjoyed the movie, it wasn’t a standout but compared to so much of what has come out recently it was solid, entertaining fare for sure. The movie that is most comparable I feel is Prometheus. Good, but flawed.

    • I dont know. Prometheus was much more ambitious, but failed, whereas this one I think succeeded at hitting a much more modest target, It’s a subtle difference, but wound up being enough for me to give Prometheus a slightly higher grade,

      They are both visually gorgeous though, for sure. And each carries its share of flaws. :(

    • Well, cmon man, this was better than 2 stars (just snuck a peek at your review) You’re being pretty harsh on it. Even though it wasn’t very memorable, it wasn’t a BAD movie. People are going to go and enjoy themselves still…

  15. The reviews are fairly flying out on this one, man. I thought it looked great and for the most part, people were very positive on it but the more I’m reading, the more I’m hearing that it isn’t anything great. I’m still looking forward to it, though. Nice write-up Fogs.

    • It did look excellent in the trailers, Mark, but there just isnt enough subsatnce to it to really earn a raving review from me. It was slick and entertaining, but not all that memorable. :(

      Decent enough, though. Certainly wasn’t bad by any means.

  16. I really love Andrea Riseborough, she was excellent even in something as awful as W.E by Madonna :P I hope she gets better role, one of the best actresses of her generation. Shame my darling Jaime yet again doesn’t have much to do :) I’ll probably see it next week, I like good sci-fi even if it borrows from other movies.

    • Yeah, he didnt have a large enough part to warrant mention. :( I know that’s a bummer for you.

      I’ll have to keep an eye out for Riseborough, she seems very talented. NOTHING is going to make me watch Madonna’s W.E. though. LOL :D

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