Any preconception I may have had about Oblivion were irrelevant. I didn’t know where it was going to go at first. It definitely offers things I didn’t expect, and yet, it simultaneously manages to borrow little things from many different movies, and therefore allowed me to se some things coming.
Hey look, it’s another big sci-fi movie with Tom Cruise in it. I’ve made my feelings clear about Tom Cruise and how I don’t like spending money on his films for obvious reasons (wacky Scientology reasons). Fortunately, I did NOT spend money on seeing this film. And yes, I feel better about that. My other feelings about Tom Crusie are simply as an actor. I think he often just seems to be playing himself all the time. He doesn’t vary enough from character to character. Let’s just say I’m really picky about his performances. Thankfully, however, in this case, Oblivion isn’t ruined by his involvement.
Oblivion involves this guy Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) who is sort of a high tech repairman that oversees and fixes an armada of defense drones that are protecting massive devices that process water on a ruined Earth. Humanity has left the planet after an alien invasion and moved to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, where the water is needed. The drones guard against “Skavs”, these dangerous alien scavengers that have remained on our vastly changed planet. As Jack travels about a virtually unrecognizeable New York, his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) stays in their habitat/base as his communications officer, keeping watch over him while contacting their mission commander in an orbital space station called the Tet. In two weeks, they will have all the water they need and Jack and Victoria will get to leave Earth and join the rest of humanity on Titan. However, one day on a routine drone repair, Jack gets new and curious information about the Skags that causes him to ask some dangerous questions about his mission.
Any preconception I may have had about Oblivion were irrelevant. I didn’t know where it was going to go at first. It definitely offers things I didn’t expect, and yet, it simultaneously manages to borrow little things from many different movies, and therefore allowed me to see some things coming. Oblivion benefits greatly from some utterly gorgeous cinematography, exceptional CG effects, and other dazzling visuals. That’s really the bottom line here: another beautiful looking science fiction film with relatively thin story development.
The performances, however, are strong across the board – yes, even by Tom Cruise, even though he still just kind of plays this like most of his other characters. This is definitley one of his better performances as he offers some subtle nuances that make this character different than say, Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible) or John Anderton (Minority Report), but I still can’t get past the fact that he’s just “Tom Cruise”. Classic case of someone being more a movie star and less an actor.
Andrea Riseborough (Victoria) is great as Jack’s sole companion and confidant on Earth during their mission of maintaining the drones. She is the counterpoint to his interest in old Earth, and a growing desire to try to save it, as she is perfectly content to leave and go to Titan. Morgan Freeman is great, as always, even though he is sometimes just playing himself as well. Olga Kurylenko is also good, and of course chock full of lovely.
Most of the film relies on Cruise, however, and he does fine. However, I can’t help but feel that, despite a more dramatic level of science fiction material here, there is some emotional connection missing. But I think that’s more due to the fact that much of this film’s story is pulled from elements of other films rather than all Cruise’s fault. Luckily, there are a few surprises here and there to keep you watching, and as I said, the whole film is just plain gorgeous to look at.
Oblivion is definitely a more dramatic film rather than a big sci-fi actioner. There are a few scenes of cool action, but most of this is more thoughful, and focuses on Jack’s story, which is primarily a suspense mystery. The film reveals its’ secrets a little at a time which is one of the strong points.
Oblivion is directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) based on his and Arvin Nelson’s graphic novel. Screenplay is by Kosinski, Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Star Wars 7) and Karl Gajdusek (Dead Like Me). It is generally well written, minus the derivative aspects..
Nevertheless, Oblivion is fairly entertaining, if not at least a visual feast. For that alone, it’s a great big screen film. I’d have to give a solid three kittenhands, though I think I would have given it more if they had cast someone else in the role of Jack, which may have helped me connect more emotionally with the material. However, even as it stands, it’s a decent science fiction film and deserves some kind of big screen viewing.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, not interested in anyone having a problem with my perfectly justifiable Tom Cruise problem. Deal with it.