By: Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie
Directed By: Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy)
Starring: Tom Cruise (Top Gun), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), Olga Kurylenko (To the Wonder) and Andrea Riseborough (Welcome to the Punch)
The world is in trouble? Someone get me Tom Cruise.
In Oblivion which opens April 19th, nothing is quite what it seems but, it seems like earth has been attacked by aliens called Scavs (Scavengers) who came here to steal our resources. The earth responded with nuclear missiles and in the process a moon was destroyed, earth was left uninhabitable and all the humans are now in a spaceship looking for a new home. But…. we did win the war. It just left us with a planet we couldn’t survive on anymore.
Jack (Cruise) and his work partner and lover (because the mighty Tom Cruise doesn’t get left alone on earth with a beautiful woman and not get her) Victoria (Riseborough) are the only two humans on earth. They were sent from our ships above to stay on earth for a while and perform maintenance on drones left to gather resources and take out what’s left of the Scavs running around our old planet. For reasons unknown at the start of Oblivion humans have had their memories erased by Control, the entity running the show now. Jack however keeps having flashbacks to his old life. He begins to think that maybe he’s not meant to ever leave earth despite the wishes of Victoria and orders from Mission Control.
Oblivion is a Science Fiction film set in a (basically) Post Apocalyptic future. It’s pretty strange to see all these futuristic and fancy high tech weapons and vehicles roaming around our destroyed earth but it all only adds to the amazing settings in Oblivion. The film has very distinctive cinematography and an original look to it’s entire landscape that looks glorious even with CGI. But despite what you may be expecting….this is no Summer spectacle of constant explosions and graphics. This is a story driven Science Fiction movie.
Oblivion leaves itself with a lot to explain right from the start. We are dropped into this whole new world with only Jack to explain to us how things got so bad. The second half of the movie throws twists and turns out constantly and we are left to figure out things as Jack does. This can make for some confusion and have us thinking that we missed something or that Oblivion has gaping plot holes. The film however will ultimately pay off our patience and come back around to pick you up if you are paying close attention.With a story like this they could have made the film a three hour epic and explained the situations a lot better but they give us just enough so that the audience can grasp the situation. The plot twists and discoveries are tightly woven just enough to make for a great story even if they do take away from the action from time to time.
Aside from a bit of confusion every now and then in the plot and back story, the only real gripe I have with this film is the lack of a great villain. It’s impossible to say too much on this without giving away spoilers but with so much story to tell in Oblivion there just wasn’t enough time to really get into specifics or show us a lot about about the threats we were actually facing. What villains we did end up seeing Jack physically face off against just don’t seem all that daunting. The same can be said for a few of the characters, mainly the one played by Morgan Freeman. He doesn’t have much screen time in the film and it would have served us well to see more of his characters origins. Especially in a film with so few humans in it, it would have been nice to know more about him. It would have been better served cutting out some of the time spent on Jack’s romances and instead focus on more important issues as they related to the film.
The action takes a backseat to storytelling for most of the film but we are treated a few battles, one in particular in the sky with Cruise facing off against his adversaries via flying space vehicle (That’s the best I’ve got…. it’s the future okay?). This is the best action scene of the film as they fly through the awesome scenery of Oblivion in thrilling fashion. It’s a neat throw-back to see cruise in the cockpit and is a reminder of the good ole’ Top Gun days.
Speaking of Mr. Cruise, he powers through Oblivion as the main human in the film and does so with just the right amount grace. For the most part he lets the scenery and story take the front seat and for a film like this that works wonders. He is just as confused as the audience when things get weird and shows just the right amount of nostalgia for what earth used to be without bumming us out. It’s hard to imagine a movie being terrible when Tom Cruise is on the screen and regardless of how you feel about the guy personally? He gets the job done just about every single time. He pulls off the tough task in Oblivion of bringing a human element to a film with so few humans. He carries the weight of this seamlessly and it doesn’t seem like he’s even breaking a sweat. You care about what happens to him, he’s easy to relate to and fun to root for.
Oblivion isn’t typical Summer movie block buster fair in the vein of or big budget action films like Independence Day which is why it’s coming out now and not a month down the road. It’s the kind of film and world that you could easily spend the time watching, enjoying and talking to your friends about afterwards. It may not be groundbreaking or win film of the year but Oblivion is still packed with the things that make movies fun. It’s great to look at, has an absolutely amazing score (So far my favorite of the year in a landslide), Tom Cruise and a little bit of originality to boot. In a way, my only complaint is that I wish they had more time to explore all the exciting places Oblivion could have taken us.