Release date: April 10, 2013
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Comic by: Joseph Kosinski, Arvid Nelson
Screenplay by: Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt
Cast: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Wakdau, Melissa Leo
Who knew that the TRON: Legacy director had written a comic book? I didn’t. And very much like my experience with that movie, Oblivion, to me, was a full eye-roll experience of cheese… though, it didn’t start out that way. The movie setup is actually quite well done, and the post-apocalyptic Earth setting is quite a vision. However, this setup that works as a blessing is also its undoing.
Too much exposition, not much showing. Through a narrator that we will know later as Jack (Cruise as not Reacher) we learned that there was an alien invasion that later evolved into a (nuclear) war that the humans won. The aliens that remained on Earth became known as Scavengers, while humans were transported to a station known as Tet, that would eventually transport them to Titan (the Saturn moon).
While this is being prepared with the aid of extraction machines that are recollecting the Earth’s water resources, they need people stationed in the planet to oversee the operations and to fix any problems that might arise from the “scavs” resistance who have begun getting bolder. Despite his recurring dream, Jack always wakes up for his mission alongside his communication officer Victoria, aka. Vika (Riseborough).
Spoiler alert! Moon. End of spoiler.
Though Konsinski’s resemblance is only with that point in the film, they are both different in essence, as Oblivion isn’t emotionally bleak or draining, even if it tries to move us with Jack’s life. In fact, that’s the point where it becomes PURE cheese, especially with that ending — Dude! That ending! Coincidentally, it shares that with Jones’ Source Code, which also prominently features a love story. The difference with both is that while in Source Code we spend the whole movie doing one thing and developing the relationship between characters within that moment, in here we are told about our characters’ connections through flashbacks and dreams because there’s no better way to do it. It’s cheap and a total cop-out.
The only developed relationship that Jack gets is with Vika, which is basically done through the whole setup of the film because after the inciting incident, everyone that is later introduced gets to be shoved into Jack’s life exposing much more needed information. “This and that, Jack. This and that.” More talks about the past, and how Jack is different. Oblivion gets blown after the harsh realization from Vika. Kudos to Riseborough for her scenes.
Then… there’s Tom Cruise. I think I’ve kind of defended him for Jack Reacher, but I think the Tom Cruise crazy eyes is a disservice for the emotional impact that Oblivion was trying to achieve. They may have been extra crazy because when the film started shooting, his whole personal drama began. Or maybe there was some intention for the crazy eyes because of the character. Or maybe he can just play crazy eyes characters.
If you’re a complete visual person, go for it. Visually, Oblivion is totally Björk’s Jóga [MV] on steroids. Otherwise, a cable watch might be what you’re looking for.
I haven’t seen Source Code yet, but I thought “Hello Moon!” in my head when that scene took place in Oblivion, haha. But even for a “complete visuals” person, Oblivion is overall a lot more watchable than Sucker Punch. IIRC, one of the photography dudes involved in Life of Pi worked on this film.
I agree that Riseborough was great, especially in a key scene. But I also liked Kurylenko here, and she’s hit and miss for me.
@Rodrigo, I found Kurylenko pretty boring. I thought she would do more than being Tom Cruise’s dream girl. On par with the archetype she plays on To the Wonder, but at least she had a little bit more to do on that movie. LOL
I agree that it’s more watchable than Sucker Punch due to its more linear storyline, no escapism. But SP is a lot more visual than Oblivion. I much preferred Jack Reacher to Oblivion xD
@amy, Reading comments from people who saw Oblivion, most are calling it Moon with a big budget. But the film also borrows from Wall*E, Total Recall and many other sci-fi films. Maybe the director tried to pay tribute to those films when he wrote his comic. Still, the film version feels more like borrowing ideas than paying tribute to those films, lol.
Question: Is this better than Tron Legacy? Haven’t seen that one yet.
@Rodrigo, I think this one had a better story (and acting – Riseborough trumps anyone). Tron Legacy was just silly… but it was visually more interesting. I have TL a bit higher than this, but if I knock out the extra star for visuals, Oblivion would be ahead.
The thing about sci-fi as a genre is that it should feel fresh… whether or not you borrow or pay tribute to other films or not – Take Super 8, for example, it was a tribute to all those 80s films (and it borrowed from Cloverfield and it felt like The Host), but it still had its elements. I wasn’t bothered so much with the elements that Oblivion used… it just felt a little too explanatory to me and I didn’t like the ending. There are only few instances in which I would accept Love & Procreation as an ending, I can’t come up with an example on the go, but I’ve had similar problems with other films with similar endings (Raiou, if you must know) — “It doesn’t matter that he’s no longer here because I’ve got a part of him with me.” xD The whole Moon aspect just made it all the more eye-roll worthy.