If you somehow were able to do a mash up of Top Gun, Vanilla Sky and Minority Report and through in a sci fi theme then you would have Joseph Kosinski’s (Tron: Legacy) film Oblivion. Tom Cruise’s latest tent pole film has that underlying feeling of something you have seen before. I would even go as far as throwing in Total Recall into the mix. Kinda like James Cameron’s Avatar had little bits from different films yet still was deemed entertaining by millions I think Oblivion uses that same formula, but I doubt it will have a similar success. Though the film is a total Tom Cruise film (there are very few scenes in the film in which Cruise is not onscreen) and a rehashing of films that he has done in the past it certainly is not a groundbreaker in any definition of the word. In other words, Oblivion is entertaining enough as you watch it, but as you think about and dissect it later it will not stand up so well.
It is the year 2070 and Earth is now an inhabitable planet for humans. Aliens known as Scavs, who were Jonesing for our natural resources, have attacked our planet and destroyed the Moon, which in turn caused every natural disaster you can think (tsunamis, etc) of to wreck our planet. A war was declared that humans ended up winning, but the victors still had to flee their home planet as it was too dangerous to live there.
All human survivors now live on a giant spaceship called Tet. Tet has a course plotted for Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a drone repairman and as such he travels down to the Earth’s surface to repair the machines that seek out and destroy any Scavs that might remain there. Victoria (Andrea Riseborough – W.E., Made in Dagenham) is his partner. She remains inside a cloud-house to keep track of him and co-ordinate the missions.
As the story goes on we see that Jack and Victoria are lovers though Jack often flashes back to memories with another woman named Julia (Olga Kurylenko – Quantum of Solace, Hitman). This is strange because Jack, like other humans, has had his memory wiped. While on his next mission Jack tells Victoria he is going to do a perimeter check, but what he is really doing is visiting his secret home. While there he sees objects being dropped out of the sky. When he goes to investigate he realizes that they were not objects rather humans in delta sleep.
One of the humans is the woman from his flashes of memory, Julia. He decides that he is going to protect her despite the risks. After Julia’s arrival things begin to happen that make Jack call into question everything he believed about the human-Scavs war. More than this it now seems like the fate of all humans is now in the drone repairman’s hands.
The visuals in this film are certainly its strongest points. It is a film that must be seen on a big screen. It will suffer watching it on a television no matter how big or sharp the picture is. The visual aspect is reason enough to see and enjoy the film.
Though I am in no way a sci fi film expert Oblivion has the total look of a film of that genre. Desolate landscapes – check. Lots of high tech gun battles – check. Cool gadgets – check. As you would expect from the director of the very glossy Tron: Legacy the film is a treat for the eyes. Though at certain points while watching it I felt it was a little too forced. Like he had compiled a list of traits of a sci fi film and was determined to check each one off. When I get the feeling of tick all the boxes it really diminishes the organic or realistic potential of a film.
I was caught up in the unraveling of the plot twists. There were several and the film depends (for better or worse) on them. Some are easy to predict while others are more difficult or unexpected. The journey into the unknown is fun.
What was enjoyable and somewhat unexpected about the film was the lack of gratuitous scenes. What I mean by that is that the blood and gore and sex are kept to a minimum. While there are plenty of battles there is very little over the top blood and guts. There is blood in some scenes though I would classify it as bloodish. Even the one sex scene is short and not much is seen.
Like many films today I believe Oblivion could have done with some editing. It felt too long and dragged at times. The story would have benefited from some tightening up.
Tom Cruise’s latest film is targeted towards 14-24 year old males and doesn’t hide its going for that target audience. I watched the film with a couple of middle aged women and they really were not impressed with Oblivion. Which is to be expected as they are outside the target audience.
-Feature Commentary with Tom Cruise and Director/Story Writer Joseph Kosinski