How many science fiction films have you seen? I don’t mean just the “pew-pew” Star Wars kind of science fiction, I mean real science fiction like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Wall-E, Silent Running, The Clonus Horror, Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Westworld, Solaris, Sunshine, Moon, etc. I’m sorry, is that list too long for you? Don’t worry, you can see all of them at once by watching Oblivion. Plot:
“A veteran (Tom Cruise) assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.”
Identity and memory issues are a common theme in almost all science fiction stories. The exploration of the external inevitably leads to an epiphany of the internal. It’s an idea that recycles again and again throughout this genre, like a track set on repeat. Fine, I can handle being in familiar territory, but Oblivion doesn’t even make a minimal effort to distinguish itself. If you have any knowledge of sci-fi films from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, it will likely bore you.
That being said, it’s quite a pretty movie. The landscape shots, backdrops, costumes, and general production design look like they were all created by Apple. The fluffy lightness of Tom Cruise’s day-to-day technology contrasted with the rusty barren wasteland he is exploring makes for a great visual, but again…it ain’t new! The visual effects are as good as any recent film I can think of, and I have it on good authority that the sound design is “amazing”. Personally I couldn’t distinguish the loud droning crashes and hums from any of the Transformers sequels or recent Star Wars abortions, but maybe the sound-tech savvy person I saw it with knows something that I don’t. The M83 musical score suits the budget, grand and sweeping, and the cast generally impresses. I wasn’t disappointed with the acting from Mr. Cruise or indeed anyone else. It’s nice to see Andrea Riseborough in a big film, and truth be told she’s probably the most impressive thing on screen. Her character’s unrequited infatuation for Tom Cruise reaches a sad peak at one point in the film, and almost makes you care.
By the way, Cruise plays a character called Jack Harper mere seconds after inhabiting Jack Reacher. I look forward to his next preformance as…Jack Jumper, followed by Jack Archer, Jack Scratcher, Jack Offer, and Jack Shit. Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I’m here all week!
The final sin this movie commits is, whilst being utterly predictable and unoriginal, it also somehow manages the impressive feat of being completely confusing. Once the plot began to take a few twists, I sat back and waited for a moment of necessary exposition that never graced my ears. There seems to have been a scene in this movie where someone stood up and explained what the underlying conspiracy was…but it was cut out. That’s the best explanation I can come up with. The only other option is that I was too dumb to understand it, and we all know that can’t be it. Right? Right?
In the end it all becomes clear, but only right at the end. Expect a lot of “Ey?”, “Huh?”, and “What?”s along the way.
Oblivion has a fitting title, engaging musical score, decent performances, and typical ideas. It is a collage of cliched moments. Only the blissfully ignorant will fully enjoy it.
– Rant Over!