Review: Oblivion (2013)

Oblivion starring Tom Cruise hit theaters this weekend, and Infinispace braved the cinema to check it out.

In 2005 Joseph Kosinski began writing a creator-owned graphic novel entitled Oblivion.  Eight years later we get to see his speculative vision on the big screen.   Kosinski has come a long way since then, I can’t imagine that he thought he would be helming a $100 million film of his work when he first started the yet to be published graphic novel.  But a lot has changed in the past eight years.

Kosinski’s career has taken off in recent years moving from creating commercials for video games (Halo 3 and Gears of War) to becoming a  feature film director and producer.  Of course this is the exact path that Ridley Scott took (commercials to big budget features) and it turned out alright for that bloke.

Oblivion Starring Tom CruiseJack confronts Drone 166.

Kosinski’s first feature film effort was the much polarizing Tron: Legacy (I liked it) the sequel to 1982′s Tron.  Universal Studios picked up the rights to his graphic novel and the film was given the green light with Tom Cruise in the starring role.

Walking in to the theater I knew only as much about Oblivion as the trailer led on.  Meaning that Earth was devastated by a war with aliens and that Jack Harper is a repairman who works on drones.  That’s about it.  So I was pleasantly surprised with the movie that I saw.  Is it groundbreaking?  No.  Is it a movie that will appeal to everyone?  Certainly not.  The fact that it has the seemingly much reviled Cruise in it assures that.  Is Oblivion even original?  Yes…and no.

But the most important question remains:  Is it entertaining?  Yes.

Without spoilers, here’s what Oblivion is about:

[box type=”download” align=”” class=”” width=””]Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete.

Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft.  Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.[/box]

Oblivion is a little derivative when viewed with a trained eye.  It has bits and pieces from movies such as:  Wall-E, Dune, Moon, Planet of the Apes, and several others.  If you aren’t astute or well versed in science fiction many of the borrowed elements and/or themes will probably be unnoticed.  But Oblivion isn’t an outright lifting of the plot of any of these movies.  Despite this it still works as a piece of entertainment because even though most will be able to deduce the plot and stay one step ahead, it will keep viewers guessing until the very end.  And it does have a fairly satisfying resolution (in my opinion, of course) that will not lend itself to a sequel.  That in itself results in a positive ending in my book.  We are inundated with far too many sequels as it is!

Oblivion Starring Tom CruiseVictoria monitors the sector.

The part that you don’t see in the trailer is that Oblivion is not only a movie about the struggle for survival and the struggle for discovery, it’s also at its heart a romance.  Interspersed within the themes are spurts of action involving shootouts, chases, and escapes, all driven by a multitude of cool tech.

Oblivion’s cast is small.  Cruise carries almost the entire movie by himself, and he does a plausible job in depicting Jack’s attempt to investigate all the strange occurrences that are suddenly tripping up his routine, dystopian life.  Morgan Freeman’s role is very small relative to the entirety of the film.  This is a bit disappointing, as he only makes an appearance in two sections of the film.

The true star of the film are the visuals.  You’ll not find a better looking film in the theaters this year.  Oblivion is an absolute triumph of gorgeous filmmaking and industrial design.  Everything about it is seamless and breathtaking.  I’m very much looking forward to picking it up on Bluray later in the summer.

Should you go see Oblivion?  Yes.  It was the first movie I picked for my Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013.  And here’s why, other than the fact that it’s a fairly entertaining and visually masterful film.  It’s not often these days that fans of science fiction (and speculative fiction) are presented with movies like this (eg. standalone, original works).  If you don’t take the opportunity to go support them we will continue to see a deluge of superhero movies and vampire movies.

Genre:  Science Fiction
Media:  Film
Year:  2013
4 out of 5 stars

© 2013-2019, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
All images/videos cited copyright to their respective owner(s).

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