If I were to describe the plot to Joseph Kosinski’s “Oblivion” and leave off character names and specific details of the story and its twists, you could easily name four or five of the biggest sci-fi genre films of all time that it sounded like. This is the biggest problem with the film — it boasts being one of the few original films coming out this summer that isn’t a sequel, prequel, reboot or having been based off previously established material, but it clearly has borrowed many key plot points from some amazing movies.
Having said that, “Oblivion” is beautifully shot with some awesome visuals and the landscapes in which most of the story takes place are so visually stunning it seems almost ethereal. There are a few amazing action sequences that will thrill you, but in the end, “Oblivion” feels like more of a fun popcorn flick than a truly original genre film.
There are many plot twists and turns that the audience can see coming and if you have seen the trailer to the film, you already know too much as they give away major spoilers and so I will refrain from mentioning any possible spoilers in my review.
In the not too distant future, Earth is attacked by an alien race we called “Scavengers,” or “Scavs” for short. In the ensuing war, the Earth’s moon was destroyed, which caused a cataclysmic tectonic shift that nearly obliterated the Earth. Mix in the use of nuclear bombs in a last effort to win the war and Earth has become unable to support humans. Humans have left Earth to live on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
Sixty years pass and there are just a few remaining humans left on Earth. Technician Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) remain on Earth to oversee the last resources mined from the planet and to maintain all the security drones left to protect the mining rigs. Their five-year mission is just a few weeks from ending and they will be able to finally join the others in the final ship departing for Titan. When they started their mission, they had their memories wiped to keep any information they have from falling into the hands of the enemy, and while Victoria seems perfectly happy to leave, something inside Jack is making him want to stay. He senses a deeper connection to the planet and he dreams of Earth before the attacks.
Everything would have been fine until a space pod crash lands near their outpost and when Jack goes to investigate, he finds humans in stasis pods. When he tries to rescue them, the same drones that he maintains to protect him attack, killing all but one, a charmingly beautiful woman that Jack feels he knows. Victoria is instantly jealous of Julia (Olga Kurylenko) and reports to their superiors about her. This begins a journey into the past to discover secrets long hidden and to Jack discovering who he is and what has really happened to the Earth and Julia is the key to it all. They must take a journey into the unknown and discover the truth behind who they are and what is really going on.
With so many twists and turns, it is hard to describe some of the best parts of the film without giving too much away but I will try. First, this film is beautifully shot and the visuals, along with an intense soundtrack, make for a thrilling film. As always, Tom Cruise pulls off a great action character, but we don’t get as much development for Jack as I would have liked and that is partially due to the character’s more reserved demeanor. There are many great side performances from Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, as well as others. I like how the majority of the supporting cast in the film start off being portrayed one way and by the time the film is through your original thoughts and opinions on them have changed.
As I stated earlier the story — while being an original — has taken more than just a few moments from other films but appears to be doing more then homages to them and for that reason it became far too predictable in its plots and reveals. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the movie, I just wish it would have taken far more risks and gone in a different direction at times. There are also a few plot holes that I noticed and you probably will too.
“Oblivion” is large in scope with all of the gorgeous landscapes and sets, but the action tends to be much smaller and personal than I would have expected for an IMAX release. The movie follows just Jack Harper’s journey and the action suffers because of it. There are a few really great chase and action scenes and they really do deliver, I just wish there had been more.
Joseph Kosinski has once again directed a beautiful, sleek sci-fi film (like he did with “Tron: Legacy”) that is filled with sleek sets and cool designs to the technology, but he should have focused more on the content of the film and less on the aesthetics. I would recommend this film to people looking to have a fun time at the movies, just don’t go in expecting an intense thriller or larger-than-life action film because you will be disappointed. If you’re going to see the movie in theaters, make sure you see it on the largest screen possible because the visuals and action sequences are the best part of the film.
“Oblivion” is now in theaters everywhere, as well as IMAX, and is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language and sensuality.
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