Oblivion (2013)

OblivionWith just two weeks remaining until they ship out to the Tet, a satellite orbiting the planet and a way-station between Earth and humanity’s new home: Titan, robot-repairman Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his communications officer Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are continuing to maintain the drones designed to hold back the surviving agents of a past alien invasion that all but destroyed the planet. When a spaceship crash-lands and a woman (Olga Kurylenko) Jack recognises from an impossible dream is pulled from the wreckage, however, doubt is cast on everything he presumes to know about the war.

From Joseph Kosinski, director of 2010’s Tron: Legacy, Oblivion takes its premise from the filmmaker’s unpublished graphic novel of the same name. Initially won by Disney, the rights were later sold to Universal when the story failed to lend itself to the former’s family-friendly image. The studio then commissioned another pass at the script, this time by Michael Arndt, which it deemed “One of the most beautiful scripts we’ve ever come across.”

High praise indeed, and unfortunately a promise that the film fails to deliver. While there is undoubtedly beauty to behold in the finished product, it is–as was the case with Kosinski’s belated Tron sequel–the director’s eye for a striking visual that is most likely to impress. Be it the shattered moon streaking the morning sky, the sight of a partially submerged Empire State Building or simply the futuristic feng sui of Harper’s tower, cinematographer Claudio Miranda frames his director’s vision exquisitely.

As for its plot, Oblivion is far less remarkable. Essentially Wall.E with splashes of I Am Legend, the opening hour could easily have played out in silence. Instead, Cruise is fed an awkward voice-over, while Riseborough is left to parrot the trailer’s “we are an effective team” at each and every opportunity, at least until Kurlyenko’s character shows up and she is able to throw in an extra word. Not even Morgan Freeman has anything of interest to add, as the characters are too busy jumping plot holes and navigating twisty turns to do much with the dialogue.

Undoubtedly Oblivion‘s biggest failing is that it doesn’t know quite what it wants to be. “Homaging” everything from Moon to The Matrix, the film is at once too busy to have the former’s impact and too vacant to carry the weight of the latter; as a character study it wastes too much time on its poorly-drawn supporting cast, while the stakes are never high enough for the story to feel epic or important.  The story is so uninvolving that you end up pulling the story apart for something to do: Does anyone in Hollywood, for that matter, know how the human memory works?

Although not without its moments (give Tom Cruise a gun and a ship and you can never truly be bored), Oblivion is a confused and ultimately meaningless ode to 70s science fiction. It’s a fine spectacle, but one that feels like a poor imitation rather than a worthy contribution.

2.5-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

2 Responses to Oblivion (2013)

  1. I would have give this film a suckage rating if not for Tom Cruise’s sky-bike sequences where he’s been chased by those drones! Damn, I miss “Top Gun.” Set pieces are mighty good, too. Great review, Steven!

  2. Erik says:

    Excellent review! I was really disappointed by this. Visually it is stunning but the story fails to deliver. It is just a mix of other much better films.

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